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Jalen Carter (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

Georgia’s ferocious front looks to turn heat up on Mississippi State QB Will Rogers

ATHENS — Georgia’s defensive front will be looking to bring the heat on what’s forecasted to be a cold Mississippi Saturday night.

The Bulldogs front, spearheaded by preseason All-American Jalen Carter, had six sacks and more than 20 pressures against Tennessee last Saturday and will be looking for more in a 7 p.m. game in Starkville, Miss.

Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) can clinch the East Division and a return trip to the SEC Championship Game with a victory over Mississippi State (6-3, 3-3).

RELATED: Georgia star Jalen Carter disrupted Vols’ prolific attack, brought ‘energy boost’

The Maroon Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 amid the cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium, but UGA is a 16-point favorite.

The temperature at game time is expected to be 41 degrees and feel like it’s in the 30s, but that isn’t expected to deter or change up what has been a key trait of Kirby Smart-coached teams.

RELATED: Kirby Smart comments on anticipated near-freezing temperature at Mississippi State

“They all have great defensive line push,” SEC legend and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow said, asked what characteristic he has seen in defenses Smart has coached and recruited at Alabama and Georgia.

“That’s something that never changed, it’s something they did so well back in the day and now they keep reloading,” Tebow said. “They win the fight at the line of scrimmage, and then their linebackers play fast and downhill.”

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Mike Leach-coached Mississippi State teams, however, are among the best at avoiding negative plays.

Smart said the Maroon Bulldogs have averaged getting the ball out at 2.5 seconds over the past three games.

Offensive lines overseen by Leach and assistant coach Mason Miller, dating back to 2018, lead the nation in lowest tackles for loss percentage allowed (6.8) and rank fifth-best in sacks percentage allowed (3.7).

This will obviously be key as Georgia looks to put pressure on junior Will Rogers, the SEC’s leading passer this season.

Of Mississippi State’s 210 first downs this season, 137 of them have come via the passing game and the Maroon Bulldogs lead all Power 5 teams with 1,704 yards after the catch.

As much as that puts a precedent on strong coverage, it will be up to the defensive line to make Rogers get rid of the football quickly.

“Number eighty-eight (Carter), number seventy-eight (Nazir Stackhouse), number-ninety (Tramel Walthour), this defensive line is a joke, they don’t get the love they deserve,” Tebow said.

“Their linebackers, nickles and safeties can run sideline to sideline and make tackles, and then it’s the attention to detail in the secondary,” he said.

“Most corners will grab and get pass interference penalties, and they turn and get their eyes back just in time,” Tebow said. “It’s like watching practices of Kirby’s, you can almost hear him saying ‘The little points,’ because they are so well-coached, and then they have elite athletes at the same time and that makes for a great defense.”

Georgia’s defense has allowed just 17 touchdowns in the past 21 games, while the next closest defense (Iowa) has allowed 36 touchdowns during that span.

“I love the physicality of each group we’ve ever had here in terms of striking, toughness, flat-back, hat speed, use of hands,” Smart said. “I think Tray Scott does a tremendous job of developing those young men into grown men but also good football players.”

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