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Post OL play back in the spotlight

Tuesday November 20, 2007

I usually don’t dwell too much on the previous game when we get into Tech Week, but one of Georgia’s low points in the last game leads to some thoughts about the Tech game.

Kentucky was the first game in a while where the offensive line was a problem. As Coach Richt left the field for halftime, he admitted that Georgia was getting its butt kicked on both sides of the line. Before the season we expected many such games where the line would struggle, but they’ve played so well recently that we’ve forgotten how thin the margin for error is up there.

Problems showed up in both the running and passing attacks. Penetration into the backfield led to Knowshon Moreno’s fumble on the second play. While Matthew Stafford made his share of mistakes against Kentucky, pressure was a factor in several poor throws and decisions. The footwork to which coaches pay so much attention suffered, and it’s no surprise that two interceptions came of it. Certainly the injury to Sturdivant didn’t help, but fortunately he should be fine.

If you watched the Lincoln Financial broadcast, they showed Richt and Coach Searels having a little chat with the offense and the line in particular before Georgia’s final drive of the first half. Richt stated that he reminded the line that it starts up front, and they responded. Georgia’s offense finally got on the scoreboard, and they looked much better in the second half. The difference wasn’t exactly night and day. Mistakes and turnovers continued throughout the game, but the effort improved enough to hold off a good Kentucky team.

Stafford and the offensive line will be front and center in this weekend’s game in Atlanta. Georgia Tech features an aggressive defense with an athletic front seven and an attacking scheme that can bring pressure from a number of places.

Stafford can make the throws that Matt Ryan and Sean Glennon did against the Jackets, but they’ll require better accuracy and form from him as well as adequate protection up front. Last year Stafford was a barely-adequate 16-of-29 for 171 yards, much of which came later in the game. Georgia didn’t manage a point on offense until the gamewinning drive. If Stafford can open things up a bit, Georgia behind Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown should be able to improve on the meager 2.3 yards per carry that Georgia had against Tech last year.

2 Responses to 'OL play back in the spotlight'

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  • And here I was feeling good about this weekend’s game verus Tech. Now I’m nervous again. :-\

  • I think we’ll see a lot of the screens to Moreno and dumps over the line to Chandler early, to force Tech to back off on the blitzes. Then we’ll open it up.

    The unsung success of the offense this year is that there’s really not a method of advancing the ball that has totally failed them this year. Against Florida, we bombed them more than any team had this year. Against Ole Miss and Kentucky, we ran them into the ground between the tackles. Against Troy and Auburn, we threw a lot of screens and toss sweeps to avoid their D-line. This kind of flexibility is incredibly rare, especially in programs as young as ours. Think about those same opponents and you’ll realize that they are, in their own ways, typecast (Auburn – short passes and the run; Kentucky – pass first, last, and always; Florida — Tebow left, Tebow right, &c). Georgia? Not so much.

    That gives us immense flexibility to respond to the pressure, wherever it comes from. I’ll take Richt’s staff and their ability to adapt to what it’s seeing every day over Gailey’s group.