3 & OUT REPORT: UGA vs. CLEMSON
During game week the staff at Dawg News Daily previews the matchup between the Bulldogs and their opponent. We focus in on 3 key position matchups or players that we believe will be the difference makers in Saturdays game.
DAWG NEWS DAILY'S 3 & OUT REPORT:
1) UGA Offensive Line vs. Clemson Defensive Line:
This game is going to be determined in the trenches. Georgia's defensive line is built "beefier" as Coach Smart put it in his Monday press conference as the Clemson defensive Line is more athletic and built to rush the passer. For all the press the Bulldogs front Seven receives on defense, Clemson may be able to match them tit for tat. The Tiger defense returns nine starters from a year ago that led the nation in QB sacks (46) and boasts a very highly rated defensive line, including former highly touted prospects Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee, Xavier Thomas, and KJ Henry. The incredibly deep defensive line will give the bulldogs re-tooled offensive line all they can handle.
Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has been working on setting his 5 up front. There has been several spots in an "open competition" over the fall camp. Warren Ericson & Sedrick Van Pran have battled for the Starting Center position and it looks as if Ericson will hold off Van Pran for the time being. Ericson battled a hand injury, but was able to get back in time for the opener. Both Guard positions were thought to be open but renturing senior Justin Shaffer has solidified the Left Guard position while Tate Ratledge has been the primary at Right Guard.
At the all-important Tackle positions, It looks to be Warren McClendon on the right side while Jamaree Salyer protects the blind side. Salyer is playing out of position as he's naturally a guard, but the Coaches trust him left tackle. Smart has mentioned Amarius Mims and Broderick Jones as having good camps, but they're probably more setup for down the road. Ideally, if they were ready later in the season Salyer would slide inside.
This is a tough task to ask the Bulldog offensive line. The best way to attack pass rush is by running the ball and screens. The Dawg O-line is more equipped for running the ball, as screens involve lineman getting out in space blocking down field. If the Bulldogs can get some push up front and get some yards on the ground, that will stall the pass rush just a bit. But don't expect the Bulldogs to be able to shove it down Clemson's throat. This will be a 4 quarter game that will be a battle of attrition. If The Bulldogs aren't able to run the (DAMN) ball, It will squarely be on on the offensive line to give QB JT Daniels time and keep him clean and upright. There's a lot of Talent, just not a ton of experience.
2) UGA Defensive Backs:
While some may refer to Georgia as "RBU", one could make a case for "DBU" with the recent Bulldogs now in the NFL including four who were drafted last season (Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Richard LeCounte, and Mark Webb). To help offset these losses, Georgia landed a pair talented players via the transfer portal in All-ACC first teamer Derion Kendrick (Clemson) and All-American Tykee Smith (West Virginia). However, Smith went down with a foot injury in camp and will be out for the season opener.
Secondary coach Jahmile Addae is in his first season at Georgia after spending the last two years with the Mountaineers. He inherited a few veterans in the secondary in seniors Latavious Brini, Christopher Smith and Ameer Speed plus junior Lewis Cine. Although they are upperclassman, Only Smith and Cine have played extensive time.
Clemson knows the inexperience in the back half of the UGA defense is where they will have some opportunities to attack... One thing Clemson will look at is getting the ball out quick. Not necessarily because Georgia is a dominant pass-rushing team but because you’ve got some guys who haven’t played a ton of football in UGA secondary, and you want to make them tackle. Clemson will look to utilize Freshman Will Shipley simliarly to former running back Travis Etienne by splitting him out, flare screens, etc.
Georgia struggled in man coverage against Florida last season with crossing routes, wheel routes, and deep shots down field. Remember that was against 2-3 first rounders mentioned above. Expect Clemson to try and follow the Florida game plan to a T. Communication will be key for this young group to be successful.
3) CLEMSON OFFENSIVE LINE vs. UGA FRONT SEVEN:
If Clemson can run the ball effectively at all, Georgia’s going to have a really hard time in this game. The good news for Dawg fans is running the ball effectively against Georgia is also extremely difficult. Georgia is allowing under 3 yards a carry for the past two seasons and return the majority of their front seven. Georgia has to play well up front and pretty much decisively win that matchup if it wants to take pressure off the UGA offense because if Clemson can get Georgia blocked in pass protection and against the run, then the offense is going to have to come out and have an incredible day against a really talented Clemson defense.
The potential is there, if you look at Clemson’s offensive line from late last season, especially that game against Ohio State in the playoffs and how decisively they lost that battle up front, if Georgia is able to win that battle as close to as decisively as it was in that game, it’ll be really tough on Clemson. HC Dabo Swinney said in his weekly press conference that they could use multiple Centers on SAturday night. That has to have NG Jordan Davis salivating! If UGA is able to apply pressure up the middle that can disrupt a lot of timing plays. But if Clemson wins that matchup up front, Georgia has got a really steep uphill climb. Expect Coach Dan Lanning to initially look to get natural push from his defensive line and play more of a base defense to see what Clemson has planned, then plan to turn up the pressure if unable to get to QB DJ U.
DND's Score Prediction:
Georgia's weaknesses going into the season, play right into Clemson's strengths. Clemson is strong at wide receiver and defensive line. UGA's question marks are Offensive line and defensive back. If they are playing this game later in the year, I'd pick UGA due to giving these groups some more game experience. Georgia's defense and ability to score quick on deep balls will give them a chance and the ability to keep it close. Expect it to be a close game Clemson 28-31 (Line: Clemson -3)
FORMER DAWGS SCORE PREDICTIONS: -Former QB David Greene: 31-21 DAWGS -Former LB Jordan Jenkins: 35-28 DAWGS -Former OL Chris Burnette: 31-28 DAWGS