What Georgia Can Learn from LSU's Game Plan vs. Alabama
Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE
Maybe Alabama is beatable after all.
The Crimson Tide needed a last-minute drive at the end of the last weekend's game against LSU to escape Baton Rouge with a 21-17 win and exited Death Valley with more questions than they entered it with.
So what can Georgia learn from LSU's game plan versus Alabama?
With both teams needing just one SEC win to clinch their respective division titles, and Auburn remaining on the schedule for both teams, Nick Saban's crew is on a collision course with Georgia to meet in the SEC Championship Game.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was the primary reason that LSU nearly sprung the upset on Saturday night. The junior signal-caller for the Tigers was calm under pressure, made smart decisions and several NFL-caliber throws, bringing his team to within two minutes of a monumental upset.
Staying calm under pressure was his biggest asset.
With Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Mettenberger recognized the pressure and got the ball in the vacated area, creating several big plays (0:50, 1:57, 2:38, 4:58 and 5:54 marks).
Georgia will need the same kind of performance from quarterback Aaron Murray.
That's easier said than done, though. Murray has been sacked 17 times this season, including five times last week against Ole Miss, some of which were avoidable. Much like LSU's was earlier in the season, Georgia's offensive line has been inconsistent at times this season, and keeping pressure out of Murray's face will be key.
If that pressure does get there, Murray can learn a lot by watching Mettenberger stand in and deliver the ball to the vacated holes in the Alabama defense.
The Bulldog offensive line will have to create running lanes for tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Establishing the run will be imperative, as was the case last weekend when LSU running back Jeremy Hill became the first player to top the century mark on the ground against the Crimson Tide all year.
Much like LSU, Georgia's offense is predicated on a consistent running game that opens up passing lanes. The first step toward establishing the run is an offensive line that can open up holes, similar to the one in the highlight above.
Unlike LSU, Georgia will have to get creative bringing pressure and force Alabama into uncharacteristic mistakes. That's where things get dicey.
Alabama's offensive line is widely regarded as one of the best units in the nation, despite allowing 18 sacks on the season.
That puts pressure on linebacker Jarvis Jones, who has single-handedly taken over games for the Bulldogs in wins over Missouri and Florida, notching 22 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, one interception and four forced fumbles in those two games alone.
Will Georgia upset Alabama if they meet in the SEC Championship Game?
Not many teams can go toe-to-toe with Alabama and win, and forcing the Tide to beat themselves will certainly increase Georgia's chances.
Georgia certainly has the personnel to do it, but it has to play like it did against Ole Miss to do so. That hasn't happened often this season.
Unless something really crazy happens, Alabama and Georgia will meet for the SEC Championship on December 1 in the Georgia Dome. LSU made Alabama look beatable, and Georgia can use that to its advantage between now and then.
However, actually exploiting some of the weaknesses that LSU exposed—especially after Alabama has self-scouted—is easier said than done.
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