ATHENS — Challenging, yes, but “daunting,” no.
Georgia safety J.R. Reed draws the line when it comes to assessing the mood and feel of how his teammates are approaching their biggest game of the year.
The Bulldogs’ senior captain and Thorpe Award finalist gives LSU’s offense its due respect, but Reed makes it clear he believes in his teammates, too.
“We’ve worked very hard this year, it shows, it has paid off,” Reed said on the SEC Championship Game teleconference this week.
“We’ve done some amazing things as a defense in this regular season. We’ve got our work cut out for us this game, and it’s going to be a great challenge.”
The No. 2-ranked Tigers (12-0) are a touchdown favorite over No. 4 Georgia (11-1) in what has been billed as a battle of the Bayou Bengals’ record-breaking offense against the Bulldogs’ league-leading defense.
Georgia completed a rare “grand slam” by leading the SEC in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense during the regular season.
This, despite a non-conference slate that featured Notre Dame and a schedule glitch that led to a stretch of five of six opponents having a bye week before they faced the Bulldogs.
Reed is a big reason why the defense has been up to the challenge, keeping his teammates alignment and assignment sound.
The Bulldogs have not given up a play 30 yards or longer the second half of the season.
The Tigers, led by new SEC single-season passing record holder Joe Burrow, have had 18 plays go for 30 yards or more the past six games, 15 of them passes.
“Those two (LSU) receivers do a great job out there making plays and making guys miss,” Reed said, referring to 1,000-yard receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. “We have to do a good job in tackling when those guys get the ball.”
The Bulldogs’ seasoned secondary — three deep at cornerback with Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell and DJ Daniel — will not be sitting ducks.
“We have some things that we can adjust to, and we’re going to run some different things and show those guys some different looks,” Reed said.
“It’s not daunting at all, it’s just another challenge that we’ve got to face,” Reed said. “ It’s one of the things, when you play in this league, play in the SEC, you play in college football now, all the teams are just so good, able to put up points.”
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