Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bobo, Chavis and turnovers

Ever since he was Georgia's starting quarterback Mike Bobo has been going up against legendary SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis. As a player, the Georgia offensive coordinator never beat Chavis' squad. As a matchup of opposing coordinators, he's had more luck with a 2-2 record.

This Saturday they renew their "rivalry" for the third time since Chavis joined Les Miles in Baton Rouge. Paschall picks up the story quite nicely here.
"I know they lost a lot of guys on defense, but they've always fielded athletes over there who can run and hit," Bobo said. "They always have big safeties and big corners, and Coach Chavis is going to do what he has done. His guys always play hard and fast, and we've got to get ready for a street fight, really, because that's what it is going to be."
The Bulldogs have struggled offensively in their last two matchups with LSU, managing 274 yards in a 20-13 loss at Athens in 2009 and 296 yards in the 42-10 humbling at the 2011 SEC championship game.
Chavis is 10-6 as a defensive coordinator against Georgia, having held that role at Tennessee from 1995 to 2008 before moving to Baton Rouge. He soon will be 57 years old and has been coaching in the SEC since 1989, giving him an "old school" label and an abundance of respect.
"When you think about it, what do most coaches say if they had a bad game or if things don't go well?" Richt said. "What are they going to go back to? They're going back to the basics and going back to fundamentals and learning how to tackle better and play with low pad level. All those things that meant something 20 or 30 years ago on defense mean something today.
"All those things that people think is old school is mandatory to having a good defense, and he's a great teacher of it."
Yes, Chavis emerged from the Fulmer firing up on Rocky Top better than anyone associated with it. LSU has always been known for a tough defense built on basic principles and the longtime assistant coach has been a great fit in Baton Rouge. In fact, LSU recently became the first school to put six defensive players in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. So SEC offensive coordinators aren't the only ones noticing what's going on down there.

But much like Georgia, Chavis is in a rebuilding project replacing many starters that are now drawing professional paychecks. One specific similarity to pay some attention to this week in getting ready is turnover margin. Both defenses are used to getting takeaways - LSU had a whopping 33 last season, Georgia had 30 of their own. But this season has seen a slow start in creating fumbles and interceptions. Georgia's been especially sluggish in this department and is on pace for just 13 on the season, while LSU has six total after forcing three against Auburn Saturday night.

Turnover margin has undoubtedly played a key role in LSU's two game winning streak over Georgia (2009's last minute Tiger touchdown in Athens and 2011's SECCG debacle). In the last meeting in Atlanta, the Bulldogs ended up -3 after a fumble that opened up the second half and then two interceptions. It was a messy performance that seemed impossible to mop up on the way to a 42-10 loss.

As usual protecting the ball will be key come Saturday 'tween the hedges. And as usual, Bobo will be looking to get the better of a longtime nemesis in that department.