LSU vs. Georgia: Can Dawgs DBs Shut Down Zach Mettenberger?

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2013

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 7: Shaq Roland #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks is tackled by Tray Matthews #28, Amarlo Herrera #52 and Josh Harvey-Clemons #25 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

In one of the biggest SEC games this year, the Georgia Bulldogs face the LSU Tigers. 

LSU's best player has been quarterback Zach Mettenberger, particularly due to his improvement from 2012 to 2013. 

Zach Mettenberger
Zach MettenbergerDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Last season, Mettenberger completed just 58.8 percent of his passes and only threw for 12 touchdowns. He also had seven interceptions. 

But through four games in 2013, he's already tossed 10 touchdown passes and is completing 64.8 percent of his passes. And he only has one interception so far. 

That means if the Bulldogs want to have a shot at taking down the red-hot Tigers, the defensive backs will have to keep Mettenberger in check. 

Georgia ranks 78th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just over 245 yards passing per game. But that mediocre ranking has a lot to do with their Week 1 loss to Clemson, who of course is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Tajh Boyd. 

Boyd tossed for 270 yards and three scores against the Bulldogs. But since then, Georgia only allowed 228 yards through the air against South Carolina and 238 to North Texas. 

Furthermore, the fact that Georgia's defense hasn't gotten off to the best start is simply because it only returned three starters to that unit from a year ago, per Athlon Sports. In addition to losing Jarvis Jones, the Bulldogs also lost Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams, Branden Smith and Sanders Commings from last year's secondary. 

In 2013, the budding star in Georgia's secondary is safety Tray Matthews. After being named the most improved defensive player in the spring by the Bulldogs, according to the team's website, he currently ranks fifth on the team in tackles and second in pass breakups. 

Apr 6, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs black team defensive back Tray Matthews (28) shown in action during the Georgia Spring Day Game at Sanford Stadium. The black team defeated the red team 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that a safety has been the Bulldogs best player in the secondary bodes well for the team against LSU. According to ESPN, Mettenberger ranks fourth in the country in yards per attempt at 11.3. 

What's even more astounding is that Matthews is just a freshman. 

In fact, the entire secondary for Georgia is young. According to Rivals, there isn't a single senior on the depth chart for either safety or cornerback positions. 

And while experience is always preferred to youth, maybe having a young secondary is a good thing for the Bulldogs against the Tigers. 

This secondary has already faced one of the game's best quarterbacks on a national stage when they played Clemson. So the hype and the dynamic passing attack won't be new to them. 

But more importantly, everybody in that secondary will be looking to prove to its fanbase that Week 1 was just a fluke, and that this young defense can be just as good as last year's group.