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Post Opponent watch

Friday September 16, 2011

Two games this weekend will give Georgia a look at three of their next four opponents. One took place last night, and one will be the early game on Saturday.

The Mississippi State offense doesn’t look that different from what we saw in Starkville last year, but they did look more comfortable in what they do (as much as one can against LSU). Our challenges will be similar – stopping the option while paying attention to shots taken downfield. I doubt we can count on Georgia’s defensive front to be as disruptive as LSU’s was, but the goal is the same: get into the backfield to make the read difficult, and put the Bulldogs into longer-yardage situations where they become much more predictable and vulnerable. LSU and a few MSU injuries along the offensive line made that look a lot easier than it is.

On the other side of the ball, MSU looked tough on defense. LSU was effective in pounding the ball with a series of wrecking balls at tailback, and the MSU defense gradually softened. I don’t know that Georgia has the kind of running back that LSU used to good effect last night – Samuel is probably the closest. Crowell isn’t slight – any more than Hearst was – but he’s not going to be confused for a power back. That said, it’s not as if Crowell won’t have opportunities. MSU looked tough at home, but this was the same defense that yielded 150 yards to Michael Dyer a week ago.

LSU did provide a useful lesson in the way they used their passing game. Though much of their approach had to do with Lee’s capabilities, they were efficient, patient, and effective with short passes. Georgia found similar success against South Carolina in the second half. Those slants and screens will be there, and the tight ends will have big opportunities.

One other game worth watching, or at least following up on, this weekend is Mississippi’s trip to Vanderbilt. This is the 12:21 SEC Network game, so those of us at the Georgia game won’t be able to see much of it. Two of Georgia’s next four opponents will play their SEC opener, and we’ll get a better idea of the relative threat of these teams. Ole Miss struggled on offense in their opener, but they were in a position to beat BYU. They got a bit of a scare from FCS team Southern Illinois a week ago but avoided a repeat of the Jacksonville St. debacle of a year ago. Vandy, with a win, would move to 3-0 on the season. They’ve already notched a win over a weak UConn team.

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