If you have turned on the TV over the past few weeks, you have probably heard the following: The Georgia Bulldogs have not faced a real schedule. Mark Richt’s team is the product of dodging LSU, Alabama and Arkansas. They’re not even in the same zip code as LSU and Alabama.
Now, let me tell you the truth about this Bulldog football team. They have the players and coaching staff to beat any team in the nation.
I could list several reasons that the Bulldogs could upset LSU. I could speak of Aaron Murray who is not only the most efficient passer in the SEC, but also has 34 total touchdowns. I could speak of the tight ends, who are the best unit in the SEC, and the wide receivers unit, which is five deep.
However, if the Bulldogs are going to win this game, it is because of one reason—the Bulldogs have a dang good defense.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones raised some eyebrows by stating in yesterday’s press conference,
“I mean, everybody praises LSU defense, but I know we've got a pretty good defense. We're not cocky at all. We're just going to play. We do our job and get out on the field. A lot of people don't give us credit of how they play and how we play. I think we play two different styles. I think our defense is just as good as theirs if not better.”
The feed got back to Tigers wide receiver Russell Sheppard, and he replied, “Is this dude serious?”
To those who have not followed the Bulldogs closely, they will side with Sheppard and agree that Jones’ statement was absurd. However, I am inclined to agree with Jones in many ways. The defenses do have a different style of play, and Georgia’s is not playing that far off from the level of LSU.
Georgia comes into this game ranked No. 5 in the nation and total defense, and LSU comes into the game No. 2 in total defense. LSU supporters will argue that LSU has faced a tougher schedule and are statistically better, and it would be a valid point.
However, you must also consider that Georgia played without two linebackers most of the season and did not get to full strength until the second half of the Florida game. As a result, they have grown by leaps and bounds during the season.
While we can’t compare Oregon to Boise State, the Bulldogs and the Tigers have faced five common opponents: Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida and Tennessee.
- 1st downs: UGA 58 LSU 64
- Total Yards UGA 217.4 LSU 217.6
- Passing yards UGA 197.2 LSU 137.6
- Rushing Yards UGA 20.4 LSU 102.2…
- Touchdowns UGA 4 LSU 3
If you judge the two defenses based upon these comparative stats, it looks like a draw. They gave up similar yards and touchdowns. Georgia was much better against the run and LSU was better against the pass. However, it should be noted that Georgia faced both John Brantley and Tyler Bray; LSU got their backups.
The Bulldogs are big up front, led by their 350-pound nose tackles, Big John Jenkins and Kwame Geather. Both of their defensive ends are over 306 lbs as well. They love to bring pressure from the linebackers, led by Jones, who leads the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss.
Their secondary is very physical, and safety Bacarri Rambo leads the SEC in interceptions. If the opposing team does catch the ball, the other safety, Shawn Williams, leaves a lasting impression.
LSU fans might not want to admit it, but the Bulldogs front seven is as good as or better than LSU’s front seven. The Tigers do have a better secondary, but Georgia’s is not bad either.
The Bulldogs led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss and are going to force Jordan Jefferson to beat them with his arm. When this Bulldogs team is healthy, they can play with any team in college football.
When the whistle sounds, it will be the defensive units against the offensive units. However, both of these defenses are elite.