LSU vs. Georgia: Can Dawgs Offensive Line Handle Vaunted Tigers D?

Brian JonesContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Clemson, SC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) prior to the snap during the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It’s LSU week for the Georgia Bulldogs and it’s a critical game for them as they try to stay on top of the SEC East. However, this is also a critical game for LSU because they want to stay with Alabama on top of the SEC West.

With this game being at Sanford Stadium, the Bulldogs come to the game as a three-point favorite per Don Shapiro of Gambling911. But by the way LSU has played so far this season, the Bulldogs will have a tough task ahead of them.

The key for a Georgia victory is to make plays against a talented LSU defense, which means the offensive line has to play its best football to date. The Tigers come into the game ranked third in the conference in total defense and second in pass defense.

The reason the defense is stout against the pass is because of the play of the front seven. Linebacker Lamin Barrow leads the team with 22 tackles and also has half a sack. Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson is second on the team with 21 tackles, but he also has one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Defensive end Jordan Allen leads the Tigers with two sacks and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson has 2.5 tackles for loss.

Out of the four games the Tigers have played, only one was against an SEC opponent, which was Auburn. LSU won the game 35-21, but Auburn did record 432 yards of total offense.

Dec 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Andre Ellington (23) runs the ball past LSU Tigers linebacker Lamin Barrow (57) in the first half during the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

So can the Bulldogs offensive line handle the Tigers defense? If they can play like they did against South Carolina, then the offensive line can handle a Tigers defense that only has three returning starters from last year.

The key for the Bulldogs offensive line is to stay aggressive because, despite the inexperience on LSU’s defensive front seven, they can get after it. The starting five on the offensive line (Kenarious Gates, Dallas Lee, David Andrews, Chris Burnette and Kolton Houston) have been a big reason the Bulldogs have averaged 40 points and 573 yards per game.

Other than Houston, the offensive line is an experienced group that has played a lot of games together. But even the backups, which include Watts Dantzler, Mark Beard and John Theus, who was a Freshman All-American last season, know the system and can come in and contribute right away.

From a protection standpoint, the offensive line has improved each time they have stepped on the field. After giving up four sacks against Clemson, the offensive line gave up two against South Carolina and surrendered no sacks against North Texas. Mark Richt challenged the offensive line after the Clemson loss, and they have responded.

With that being said, the Tigers defensive line will present the Bulldogs offensive line with a different challenge. They don’t have a player like South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, but they all know how to play together under defensive coordinator John Chavis. LSU will give up yards when it comes to running the ball (136 yards per game), so if the Bulldogs offensive line can give Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley a little bit of running room, that will keep the defensive line honest and open up the passing game.

This is a very critical game for the Bulldogs. If they want some breathing room in the SEC East, they have to find a way to take down the Tigers.

And if Bulldogs offensive line continues to play like they have been the last couple of weeks, there is no reason why the team from Athens can’t come away with a win.