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Georgia's front seven defenders will have a chance to show how much they've improved this season against Georgia Tech's triple-option.

Good Day, UGA: The ‘stop the dang run’ edition

Cy Brown

Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. In today’s edition, we look at the Georgia Tech game as a test for Georgia’s young front seven. There’s a lot to be thankful for this week. Like you sending me an angel …

Measuring stick

I’ve been surprisingly impressed at the progress Georgia’s front seven has made over the course of the year. The loss of players such as Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins at linebacker, and experienced hands such as Serling Bailey on the line, left a unit of talented sophomores and juniors without a go-to guy. While there still isn’t one player who stands out head and shoulders above the rest — although, in my book,  Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter come closest — the group works well together, especially at snuffing out the run. Georgia ranks 34th nationally in run defense, thanks to the young front seven. This weekend, we’ll get to see how far this group has truly come.

Georgia Tech and its triple-option is a different beast from anything Georgia has faced this season. On a good day, it can cripple even the best run defenses. The difficulties it presents are obvious. First off, it’s used so little that no one spends much time preparing for it. Any team will probably encounter one opponent at most that runs the triple-option. That’s only one week of preparation, plus maybe a day in spring and fall practice. All Georgia Tech needs is a team to have a bad week of practice to pounce.

For more on the triple-option, here’s Dave Wannstedt explaining some of the intricacies of the offense much better than I can:

Another detriment to Georgia: Kirby Smart has almost no practical experience against the triple-option. Seth Emerson wrote about the times Smart faced it at Alabama. You should read the whole thing, but the gist is he hasn’t played against it much, and when he did, there was such a talent disparity between Alabama and its opponent that you can glean little from the results.

One final reason for worry against Tech’s offense: youth. When you’ve been playing standard offenses all season, it’s understandable that a young player would get a bit discombobulated facing a defense so far out of left field.

“I do think that it’s tougher when you’ve got defenders who have not played against this type of offense,” said Smart, according to Emerson. “So, it’s key when you’ve got guys who have played it before, who understand how fast it really comes.”

The triple-option breaks young teams. Not only because it’s so different than what they typically face, but also because of the discipline it takes to beat it. There is no secret to stopping the triple-option: stay in your gaps and play assignment football. Oftentimes, though, an inexperienced linebacker will think he has a jump on the play and leave his assignment, only for the quarterback to option into the space he just vacated. It’s all about discipline.

Which brings me back to what I was originally saying about the front seven. Georgia Tech will be a test of how much it has improved this season. We know how talented Georgia’s defensive linemen and linebackers are, but how disciplined are they? If they can stop Tech’s run game this weekend, it’ll be a good indication that this front seven has taken the next step, from potentially good to potentially great.

Advanced stat profile

Bill Connelly, SB Nation’s college football statistician extraordinaire, released updated versions of his excellent advanced statistical profiles on Tuesday. There’s much, much more about Georgia that you should check here, but here’s a snapshot of Georgia’s season so for.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-51-20-pm

Two things jump out at right off the bat:

  1. Georgia was gotdang unlucky to lose to Vanderbilt.
  2. The Georgia Tech game is gonna be real gotdang close.

Here is how Georgia stacks up in Connelly’s “Five Factors” categories:

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-11-26-13-pm

It’s almost Thanksgiving

Thinking about everything I’m gonna eat has got me workin’ up a sweat.

Georgia hoops tops George Washington

Georgia won its first game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo., 81-73, over George Washington to advance to 3-1 on the year.  It was a tight game throughout, but while down two with a little over 10 minutes left, Georgia went on a 10-1 scoring spurt to put the Bulldogs out of range.

The Bulldogs aren’t done in Kansas City. In fact, their stay is about to get more difficult. Next up for Georgia is the tournament final against No. 5 Kansas. I don’t think Thanksgiving miracles are a thing, but Georgia should totally win this game and make it one.

ICYMI

Good dog

Yale recently got a new Handsome Dan, the spiritual forefather of Uga, and yo, look at this nugget.