ATHENS — Georgia football probably didn’t need a reminder of just how challenging its game will be against rival Georgia Tech next Saturday, but The Citadel provided it, anyway.
The Citadel, an FCS military school from Charleston, S.C., played No. 1-ranked Alabama to a 10-10 tie through the first half on Saturday in Tuscaloosa because of its disciplined option-style offense.
Alabama won the game, 50-17, but not before The Citadel had made a statement.
FIRST HALF STATS
(10-10 tie, Citadel on left, Alabama on right)
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs play host to the rival Yellow Jackets — an FBS school with bigger, better talent than The Citadel — at noon next Saturday at Sanford Stadium looking to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Georgia designates practice time each week to Georgia Tech’s option attack, but the discipline style it requires is unlike any other team the Bulldogs play.
The precise timing of the pitch and ability of defenders to handle low, sometimes dangerous cut blocks, make playing an option team a headache for most defenses.
“I don’t care what the differential is in terms of personnel, it’s schematically a problem,” said Gene Chizik, who won a national title as Auburn’s head coach (2010) and Texas’ defensive coordinator (2005). “It’s hard to duplicate in practice.
“Those defensive lineman and those perimeter safeties and corners getting cut (blocked), it’s in their head before the kickoff, they’re thinking about it.”
Georgia Tech leads the nation in rushing offense, worth noting when one considers the Georgia defensive front has been suspect at times this season.
Former Florida receiver and SEC Network Chris Doering said The Citadel’s time of possession advantage over Alabama in the first half — 19:14 to 10:46 — factors into how an offense responds.
“Time of possession problems create frustration for an offense, there’s nothing worse than having to sit on the sideline and watch a game if you’re on offense, it minimizes your possessions, and you don’t have room for errors,” Doering said.
“I think it has to do with not being familiar with this type of offense and defending it, and it creates frustrations for your defense and offense.”
Doering said he believes defensive players grow concerned with the threat of injuries against cut-blocking teams.
“I think these guys, they’re just a little bit concerned with coming out of this game healthy, and if that’s in the back of their minds, it makes you a step slow, perhaps,” Doering said.
“You can’t simulate the cuts that the offensive line will make on your edge defenders, one because they will get hurt, and two because they are not as familiar with blocking like that.”