Dogs Gameday: Georgia’s defense vs. Kellen Moore is key

The Bulldogs walk around the Georgia Dome field two hours before the game.

The Bulldogs walk around the Georgia Dome field two hours before the game.

Hello. And now the college football season really starts.

I’ve taken some heat from the Georgia faithful for picking Boise State to win this game tonight. Just to reiterate something I’ve said and written before: Making a prediction doesn’t mean I have a vested interest, unless I’ve got money on the game, which of course would never happen. (Pause for effect.).

I just look at the two teams and believe that, yes, even with Boise State holding out three players for eligibility concerns — including starting strong safety Cedric Febis — the Broncos are a better team. At the very least, they’re a more proven team.

The biggest reason I like Boise State: the quarterback. Georgia’s Aaron Murray is very good, probably the best quarterback in the SEC. But Kellen Moore is a senior, a fourth-year starter, a Heisman Trophy candidate and really smart. He had 35 touchdown passes and only six interceptions with a 71.3 percent completion rate last season. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. My confidence level in the Georgia defense and Todd Grantham is not yet at the point that I see the Dogs stopping Moore.

Could it happen? Sure. But if Georgia wins this game, it’s not going to be because of a relative home field advantage in the Georgia Dome (Boise has played on this stage before) or because the game is “bigger” for the Dogs (if anything, it’s bigger for the Broncos because if they go on a run the rest of the schedule, they’re potentially in the BCS title game). The Dogs simply have to prove they can play smart, tough and with some resiliency, particularly against a ranked opponent. That’s something we haven’t seen much of lately.

Just a few things before I turn it over to you:

• Note to Utah State: Auburn is going to onside kick. (Still can’t believe the Tigers came back to win that game today. But that should supply sufficient evidence that a school from that part of the country can play with an SEC team.)

• Still no confirmation that safety Bacarri Rambo is playing. Or not playing. There has been speculation in the media that Rambo has been suspended but coach Mark Richt all week has issued the standard none denial/denials: “There’s nothing to report right now.” Rambo is listed second on the depth chart at free safety behind Sanders Cummings. If and when there’s an update, I’ll try to post it here.

• Whether freshman Isaiah Crowell gets the first carry or not for Georgia, his importance and that of the running game can’t be overstated. But the onus is largely on the offensive line, which has been an underachieving unit the last two years. The Dogs must be physical up front to win this game and handle a very good Boise State front seven.

• Not that the guys in Las Vegas necessarily know more than we do. But despite Boise State holding out three players, the point spread hasn’t budged. The Dogs are three-point underdogs.

• Watch Malcolm Mitchell. Murray has two great targets in Tavarres King and tight end Orson Charles, but I’m very interested to say what the freshman wide receiver can bring to the team this season. The Dogs will need a playmaker to step up with A.J. Green gone.

That’s it for now. Going outside to get a look at the scene.

Kickoff is 8 p.m. What’s your level of confidence as we get closer to the game?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

393 comments Add your comment

dawgcrzy

September 3rd, 2011
4:04 pm

dawgcrzy

September 3rd, 2011
4:07 pm

first and i even read the article, and for what it is worth i don’t believe Boise can last 4 quarters, win the 4th.Go Dawgs

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
4:07 pm

Auburn got LUCKY I don’t think UGA will get lucky

jrmdvm1

September 3rd, 2011
4:09 pm

I am slow roasting your crow, Jeff. I think you are right that our defense is the key, but, I think that the defense is up to the challenge.

JDawg1785

September 3rd, 2011
4:09 pm

If the Dawgs show up, they can win this game. The D will definitely be key. It’s time for CTG to step up and earn that paycheck. Go Dawgs!

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
4:19 pm

Thanks Jeff! What is the scene outside and at Centennial Park with the concert? I bet it is crazy!

Ted M

September 3rd, 2011
4:20 pm

Jeff – I’m picking UGA but I must say I think its hilarious people think your only reason for picking BS is hatred for Ga. Pretty funny stuff.

athens dawg

September 3rd, 2011
4:21 pm

The defense can definately get the job done. I don’t know why everybody is doubting us but maybe it’s just not for me to understand. Crowell and Samuel should have big nights because our O-line will shock a few folks tonight. On defense, Geathers should have a big night maybe not statistically but his impact will be huge. Same for Jenkins. Having two fresh nose guards going up against the same center will wear the center out and once you take out the center, the entire O-line starts to break down. I’m also excited to see the secondary which has the potential to lockdown the Boise receivers. Boykin, Smith, Commings, and Williams will have big nights in the 2nd year under the 3-4 and the coaching of Lakatos. Should be fun. GO DAWGS!

Can it be true?

September 3rd, 2011
4:21 pm

Georgia has to STOP the run. Boise RB is the key to the game. If they can move the ball we are in trouble. Bottle him up and make them on dimensional and we are in good shape. I think we can move the ball enough to win even though they have a great D with a solid D line. The weather will not be a factor this time. But I’m hoping the hype of the game gives the DAWGS and edge.

DAWGS 24-13

Ted M

September 3rd, 2011
4:22 pm

Notre Dame is gettin their butt kicked

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
4:29 pm

13-0 is a butt kicking???

.

September 3rd, 2011
4:37 pm

No offense, but your opinion about who wins or who is the better team carries no more weight or credibility than the kid who cuts my grass. All that matters is the game, not Jeff Schultz and your inability to prognosticate or analyze football teams. In a few hours we will find out who is for real and who is not.

Jeff Schultz

September 3rd, 2011
4:51 pm

Steve — They have a very cool fan fest area in the plaza between the Dome and the World Congress Center with a big BBQ cookoff. It looks (and smells) great.

Jeff Schultz

September 3rd, 2011
4:52 pm

Ted M — Thanks. It stems from the same old, “He has an agenda” thing. But that’s cool. Fans are passionate and you have to expect that.

Dayman

September 3rd, 2011
4:54 pm

I think its funny you people get offended because a sports writer didn’t pick your team to win, kind of ignorant. BTW Go Dawgs!

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
4:59 pm

Jeff at least you get to see a real football game tongiht in a sold out stadium unlike Thursday night! I saw that the announced attendance Thursday was 42,000 but I heard there were maybe 30,000 at Grant Field. As much as I hate Tech, I am still shocked they can’t put 50,000 in there just 6 or 7 days out of the year.

catlady

September 3rd, 2011
5:04 pm

I am confident that nothing much will have changed, but I HOPE I am wrong!

drbasic1

September 3rd, 2011
5:05 pm

Guess Vegas blew the TCU Baylor line

drbasic1

September 3rd, 2011
5:05 pm

Gonna blow another one Also!!

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:06 pm

Auburn was also favored by 24. I still feel that last year was a fluke. They were a one man team! Maybe two.

Joe

September 3rd, 2011
5:11 pm

“is a senior, a fourth-year starter, a Heisman Trophy candidate and really smart. He had 35 touchdown passes and only six interceptions with a 71.3 percent completion rate last season. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Kellen Moore also plays against a pansy schedule filled with cupcakes.

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:14 pm

Very good point Joe. Nobody talks about that. It does make me nervous though that they have won against Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, etc. They were not supposed to win those.

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Poopdawg

September 3rd, 2011
5:17 pm

Jeff. , Utah St playing Auburn tough is sufficient evidence that Boise will play the Dawgs tough? I believe Boise’s record against the few big schools its played is the only evidence. I’m glad Auburn survived. Will UGA’s defense be improved ? I sure hope so but a big question. Will Bobo have his nose in the playbook the whole game or will he occasionally look what the heck the defense is doing? Bobo will have a birds eye view maybe he watches the game and personel .

BFS

September 3rd, 2011
5:20 pm

The key to a Bulldog victory will be the ability to make Moore mobile. He is a pretty good passer from the safety of the pocket, but if you saw a few of his hiccups from last year, when you chase him out of the pocket, he will make a mistake. Dogs win 24 -20!

athens dawg

September 3rd, 2011
5:23 pm

The only really good teams that Kellen Moore has beaten is Virginia Tech and Oregon. That’s it. Oregon State isn’t good. Check this out, they beat VT 33-30, and Oregon 14-9. Both of those were close and very winnable for the other team. Boise does struggle with bigger, faster, and stronger teams and it shows. Yes they may get the win, but they struggle. This isn’t your average Louisiana Tech, or Idaho game Boise. We’re bringing the pain.

abravefan

September 3rd, 2011
5:25 pm

No one has mentioned the Dawgs kicking game which could be a major factor!

Jeff Schultz

September 3rd, 2011
5:29 pm

Steve — I still can’t figure put that game on Thurs. night without TV, although I understand concerns that Saturday could’ve been even worse attendance with students off campus for holiday weekend. I’d say the stadium was about two-thirds full. So if capacity is about 43,000, that means there were 30,000 there.

Jeff Schultz

September 3rd, 2011
5:29 pm

drbasic1 — Got that right.

KansasCityDawg

September 3rd, 2011
5:31 pm

Hoping that our coaches don’t take a timid approach to this game, or at least are firing on all cylinders and keep their mental gaffes of the last few seasons to a minimum…

Dawg Tired

September 3rd, 2011
5:36 pm

Jeff – Thanks for doing some sensible analysis instead of the “Just not feeling it” thing. I think you’re pretty much on here except I don’t think winning this game means a NCG appearance for BSU. Obviously, this is the toughest game, or at least should be the toughest game, for them all year. I fully expect BSU to win all the remaining games on their schedule, especially based on the porous defense shown by TCU last night. However, the schedule is just too weak for Boise to get up to number two for BCS purposes, IMO.

I agree that UGA’s defense is the key for tonight’s game. As it does you, that’s makes me apprehensive about the Dawgs’ chances. I am also eager to see if the o-line can run block any better than last year when it was inept in that department. Of course, the ability to give Murray time to throw is also a key to success on offense. BSU’s quickness on the edge could be a problem in that regard. I am not a big fan of 330+ pound offensive tackles trying to block DE’s with quickness. This game will show just how good (or bad) UGA is. Last year the team effort was pitiful, especially when adversity hit. Adversity always hits when playing good, or even decent, teams. It will be interesting to see how this bunch of hounds handles adversity when it comes their way tonight.

Hopefully this will at least be a competitive game. Otherwise, this is the beginning of the end for CMR in Athens. Personally, I would hate to see that happen.

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:36 pm

Good point Jeff but you would think with the metro area having close to 6 million people living in it, they could generate enough interest to fill the stadium regardless.

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:37 pm

I got the Baylor Game right.

I can’t wait until I get the Dawg game right too.

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:37 pm

If Richt gets canned, does the job go to Kirby Smart?

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:41 pm

A. Murray will be the NEXT Colt’s QB after tonight. He will wake-up with a Horse Shoe Print on the side of his head. Boise State is going to Mule Kick the Loser MURRAY out of the game. AHHAHAH. Well, I hope so.

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:43 pm

Neutered Dame is playing so BAD that GOD is crying.

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:44 pm

The PIRATE Leach will be the next UGA coach. Really maybe Lil CHUCKY the ex-Tampa coach.

phillydawg

September 3rd, 2011
5:46 pm

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:46 pm

5150 UOAD why are you on here? Quit being jealous of UGA. Not our fault Tech is always irrelavant.

Action Jackson

September 3rd, 2011
5:47 pm

We are at a private party at STATS

Awesome atmosphere in all directions around the Dome

You would think the Superbowl is in the ATL

GO DAWGS!

Action Jackson

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:48 pm

STEVE why would I not be allowed here? Jeff is not a MUTT or Mutt reporter.

Numberwang

September 3rd, 2011
5:49 pm

Jeff, start thinking Hawaii. The following is why I think UGA wins tonight:

1. Our athletes are far better conditioned than last year. If you seen the practice photos, you know what I mean.
2. Kwame Geathers – 6′6″ 350 lbs. vs Boise St. center who’s 5′11″ 288 lbs. We’re going to own the middle of the line.
3. LB’s – This set of Linebackers for Georgia is vastly superior to last years with the additions of Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.
4. Overall size and strength gap between the two teams AND the caliber of opponents is dramatically different. Boise St. just doesn’t play anybody that matches up with the top tier SEC teams we face year-in-and-year-out.
5. Brown, Mitchell, King, Bennett, Charles, Figgins, White, Wooten are solid weapons to throw to.
6. The Dome – fast track for a fast team. Boise St. is not going to be able to handle Georgia’s speed!
7. OL – I think our line will be able to open holes in the Boise St. line allowing Crowell to get 100+ yards.
8. Special Teams – If this game is close; which most predict, then it could come down to ST’s. Georgia has a huge edge in that department.
9. Kellen Moore may be a rockin QB, but if he’s got Bulldogs dragging him down to the ground all night, then it’s going to be Hawaii all over again.
10. There’s no way Richt is going to get out coached tonight. He knows this is a huge game for himself and his staff. He’ll have the Dawgs pumped and ready to play like their hairs on fire.

Jackets 2011

September 3rd, 2011
5:50 pm

I think Tech wanted to build confidence out of the spotlight because some in the fan base have developed a tendency to go negative pretty quickly.
Like some other fan base I know.
Tech’s fan base is a lot smaller than Georgia’s.
And losing nine out of ten to the arch rival cuts season tickets for sure.
BTW I’ve cut out going to the pros completely.
One out of 150 or whatever is not good enough to keep me as a fan.

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
5:50 pm

Action J……… just be a NON-DAWG and be respectful and pleasant to the fans of other teams.

dawg4u

September 3rd, 2011
5:55 pm

My prediction is UGA 31 BSU 20. I believe as others have posted that our O line and D line will wear down the Broncos as the games goes on. BSU will probably even lead some in this game but the Dawgs will prevail. I also am interested in the freshman WR Malcolm Mitchell and what kind of impact he may make. GO DAWGS!

Steve

September 3rd, 2011
5:58 pm

Jackets 2011 they should still do something or market more so that at least 50,000 show up for the 6 or 7 home games every year. There are plenty of Tech grads here. Them plus the current students and it should work. I would hate to have the marketing job!

5150 UOAD

September 3rd, 2011
6:00 pm

Jeff is a Reporter and WRITES Stories not blog crap for hits.

Jackets 2011

September 3rd, 2011
6:01 pm

If we can’t beat Uga better than one out of ten, it takes a lot of the fun out of college football.
Even the Gamecocks have turned the tables on Clemson (due to someone u know).
The 2009 loss was a huge disappointment.
Johnson doesn’t know his fan base.
They would rather beat Uga than win the ACC.

Cuz

September 3rd, 2011
6:06 pm

Jeff has a right to his opinion this isn’t Russia.

This isn’t Russia is it?

Poopdawg

September 3rd, 2011
6:08 pm

50 I say Bradley kicks your ass in the 2nd round . Schultz would kick it in round 1 . Schultz fights dirty. How is that for predictions?