Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A defensive look vs Georgia Southern

So the season has come down to playing two teams that are both going to give us everything they have. As you know, Georgia Tech ain’t bowling this year. Which means the annual renewal of Clean Old Fashioned Hate will be their defacto bowl game. It’s on North Ave. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You know, because everything in their eyes is being able to besmirch UGA fans year round.

But why is that what Dawg fans are talking about this week? Georgia Southern, in my humble opinion, is better equipped to pull the “upset”. Here’s why.

First, they have Matt Breida (#36). This junior running back is averaging nearly nine yards a carry. He’s fast as lightning and only needs a crease to break one open. He may be a little on the small side compared to other backs we’ve seen, but he makes the most use of the carries he gets. This Georgia Southern offense relies heavily on Breida and he has proven to be quite the weapon to challenge an opposing defense’s discipline and tackling ability. In other words, one half-hearted arm tackle and/or one missed gap and he’s putting you in his rear view.

Second, the Eagles have two quarterbacks that can gash and punish defenses up the middle and around the tackles. The Eagles have clearly settled on Cornelia Ga’s Kevin Ellison (#4) over Favian Upshaw (#13). Although neither have been able to throw the ball efficiently, Ellison is averaging over seven yards a carry leading this offense. He has good vision and makes efficient use of the blocking in front of him.

Clearly, the key will be getting Georgia Southern in third and long situations. That’s what did them in on their season opening visit to Morgantown and eventually in their loss to App State last month. Ellison won’t be able to carry the Eagle’s offense on his arm alone. However, I think we’ll see plenty of shots at our secondary through the air. Coach Fritz knows that if he can put up enough points (especially early in the game) it could put too much pressure on our own offense to support itself.

So I would look for some seam routes to try to catch the middle of the field open, aka Pruitt’s Achilles heel. The Eagles' three biggest weapons in the passing game are BJ Johnson (#12), Myles Campbell (#81), and Ryan Longoria (#31). Johnson and Campbell are averaging around 17 yards a catch. It’s just that they’ve only been targeted a handful of times a game. Longoria leads the team in receptions and can be difficult to cover, especially when Ellison is given enough time to find him open. They don’t utilize the passing game much, but this could be the game when those plays are bookmarked in the playbook in hopes of some easy yards and/or quick scores.

Later in the week I'll look into what our offense might be able to manage in this game. But all in all, I think our defense matches up well with this Georgia Southern offense. If Pruitt can minimize any damage on potential big plays it will keep the pressure off of our struggling offense. In fact, you can go ahead and mark that down as a key to the game here. The Eagles can steal this thing with a few well-timed shots. They’ve proven they’re not afraid of bigger programs against the likes of Alabama and Florida, not to mention Tech. And we’ve seen it historically in Sanford in previous meetings.

In short, for them this isn’t a trip for a paycheck. It’s a trip to add to the win column. Hopefully the Dawgs will treat it as such.

All stats via cfbstats.com