ATHENS — Super Bowl champion and former NFL All-Pro safety Roman Harper had advice this season for teams facing Georgia, and it would certainly also seem to apply to Ohio State.
“You’re not going to run the football, all you’re doing is just wasting a down,” said Harper, a former All-SEC safety at Alabama and New Orleans Saints team captain.
“Your advantage is the quarterback, just use it, and when you don’t think you have the advantage, use it more.”
Harper was previewing the SEC title game when he shared his take on the UGA defense, but Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud seemed to be on the same page when he recently said Ohio State would have to ‘let it loose’ against Georgia.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs play the Buckeyes at 8 p.m. next Saturday in the CFP Peach Bowl Semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Georgia brings the nation’s top-ranked run defense into the action, allowing just 77 yards per game on the ground and 2.94 yards per carry.
“The Georgia defense, and you hear Kirby (Smart) say it all the time, physical football travels,” Harper “They hit people with body shots, and they don’t want to see Georgia in the fourth quarter because of the way they play and the way they hit you.”
To Harper’s points, teams are averaging just 3.8 points against Georgia in the fourth quarter, with many of those scores coming against backups or in so-called “garbage” time.
The Bulldogs have had just one game decided by single digits — a 26-22 come-from-behind win against Missouri back on Oct. 1.
The Georgia defense stiffened in that road win, holding the Tigers to just two field goals in the second half after the offense was held out of the end zone through the first three quarters.
“It’s a never-ending wave of relentless play,” Harper said, describing a reloaded Bulldogs’ defense that lost eight starters from last season to the NFL including five first-round picks.
“The way they play physical football and take away what you like to do, they are smart, physical and tough,” he said. “And if my son was of age, I would send him to Georgia.”