3 & OUT REPORT - UGA/LSU PREVIEW - WHO ARE THE KEYS TO THE GAME?
During game week the staff at Dawg News Daily previews the matchup between the Bulldogs and their opponent. We focus in on 3 key positions or players that will be the difference makers in Saturdays game..
RECAP FROM LAST WEEK:
Georgia got back into form last Saturday against Vanderbilt. After another slow start, the Bulldogs seemed to be running on all cylinders in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. The penalties (13 for 115) are something the coaching staff needs to address. Vanderbilt did squander away a few scoring opportunities by going for it on 4th and 1 in the redzone instead of kicking a field goal which could have kept them within a punchers chance. It seemed to deflate the commodores and be a big boost of confidence for the defensive line who seem to get a bit of the injury bug (more on this below). The Bulldogs went DEEP into their bench as 3rd , 4th and 5th stringers saw playing time in the 4th quarter of the 41-13 victory. The Bulldogs are now onto 4 straight games against teams currently ranked in the top 25. First up, is a trip to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers. Lets take a look at the key potions and players that should be difference makers in the game.
DAWG NEWS DAILY'S 3 & OUT REPORT
1) Defensive Line- The trainers table is starting to fill up with Bulldogs! David Marshall, DaQuon Hawkins- Muckle, and Devonte Wyatt are the latest to join this group. All 3 are looking doubtful to play this weekend. Not good news for a group that will certainly face its biggest test of the season. LSU wants to run the ball. This helps setup the play action pass, very similar to UGA. The defensive line will need to "knuckle up" to quote Head Coach Kirby Smart this week. Winning the line of scrimmage will be important for this group. Tyler Clark has been a stud all season, especially the last 2 weeks. Look for Clark, Ledbetter, Julian Rochester, and Grad transfer Jay Hayes to play big roles. Big Man Jordan Davis will be called on to to step into Marshall's spot. Davis has looked good, but hasn't faced a team like LSU in his short time at Georgia. Also, look for Malik Herring to get some snaps here as well.
2) Mecole Hardman- Go back to the national championship game, a painful memory I know, but that night Mecole Hardman was one of the best players on the field. Hardman that night scored in the wild-dawg package and also on an 80 yard touchdown reception. The bulldogs will need to utilize Mecole's talents all across the board. In the Bulldogs first road test against South Carolina, Hardman had a season high 6 catches for 103 yards. He also had 1 carry for 30 yards. Whether its on punt return, jet sweep, or even the "wild-dawg" package. Mecole started the season with a touchdown in the 1st 4 games. He hasn't seen the end zone in the last two. We think this is a perfect time to break the drought!
3) Offensive Line- Pro Football Focus listed the Georgia Offensive line as top offensive line in the country this week. When healthy the line consists of one senior, three sophomores, and a freshman. Boy is the future bright! Year to date, the offense is performing ahead of 2017's national championship team and the O-line deserves a lot of credit. The young line has performed very well this year but has shown some issues with the blitz. Fromm has only been sacked 7 times in 2018, but haven't faced a defense like LSU yet either. LSU has a decent defensive line but relies on the blitz due to front four being unable to get a natural push upfront. If they can pick up the blitz and keep Fromm/Fields clean, they should have the advantage all game.
Georgia has yet to play a complete game. The defense hasn't seemed to gel as a group yet and the offense seems prone to slow starts. With that said UGA is 6-0 and winning by an average of 30.2 points. However, South Carolina is the only ranked team UGA has played and at the time they were ranked 24th. LSU is a tested bunch with victories over Miami & Auburn. Coming off a tough loss to an improved Florida team, LSU is at home and is basically playing to keep their playoff chances alive. We aren't reading too much into the Florida loss, Its a big rivalry game and it has been back & forth the last few years. LSU had some chances to win the game but seemingly could never get out of their own way.
If both teams play their best games, UGA wins by 2 scores. But with UGA struggling to put it all together the betting line is hanging around a touchdown. LSU plays a lot of man-to-man defense so expect UGA to run a lot of RPO which could be a big plus for the Justin Fields packages. We don't think LSU's offense can keep up with UGA as LSU's QB Joe Burrow is more of a poor man's Jake Fromm and we don't see him leading the Tigers over 21 points. LSU never changed their game plan last week against Florida and this is where Kirby and staff may be the best in the nation with halftime adjustments. As the coaching staff have done all season, expect them to put Justin Fields in favorable situations on the field. We expect a lot of run game from UGA and for them to pull away from the Tigers in the 2nd half. If UGA can keep their emotions and not turn the ball over. UGA pulls away and overwhelms LSU at home.