Keys to a UGA win over Sun Devils

A.J. Green scores against Arizona State last year. (AJC staff)

A.J. Green scores against Arizona State last year. (AJC staff)

Arizona State comes into Saturday’s return match with Georgia leading the country in several categories.

The Sun Devils rank No. 1 in total defense, having allowed 17 points in eight quarters. ASU also is first in the nation in turnover margin, having forced eight (six interceptions and two fumbles) and committed none. (Georgia’s near the other end of the rankings in that category, of course.) And Dennis Erickson’s team leads the nation in kickoff returns.

The caveat about those rankings is that the Sun Devils have only played two games so far and both were against weak competition — Idaho State and Louisiana-Monroe.

Still, the Sun Devils’ defense is expected to be improved from what Georgia faced last year, when A.J. Green had his national coming out party with a career high eight catches for 159 yards. The most notable playmakers on defense are pass rusher Dexter Davis (25.5 sacks in the past two seasons, though none so far this year) and 26-year-old linebacker Mike Nixon, who blocked a punt and had three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) against Idaho State.

On offense, the Sun Devils are something of an unknown quantity. This will be the first career road start for quarterback Danny Sullivan, like Joe Cox a fifth-year senior replacing a longtime starter (Rudy Carpenter). Sullivan, a big kid at 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds, has not thrown an interception in his first two college starts.

But his only previous appearance against a major opponent was last year when he came in for an injured Carpenter in the third quarter against USC. The results weren’t pretty: He completed just four of 17 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions.

So far this season, the ASU offense has been efficient but not that productive. However, considering how shaky Georgia’s pass defense has been and the fact that this season Erickson is introducing a spread offense that at times features four or five wide receivers, ASU probably will be testing the Dogs’ secondary with chief playmakers Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha.

One factor that could work in the Dogs’ favor is that ASU kicker Thomas Weber, the 2007 winner of the Lou Groza Award as college football’s top placekicker, is out with a groin injury. Kicking in his place probably will be freshman walk-on Bobby Wenzig, though linebacker Nixon also may get a shot. Erickson said this week it was uncertain who would kick off. Chances are whoever it is will be instructed to pooch kick to keep the ball away from Georgia’s Brandon Boykin, so the Dogs should start with decent field position.

As for penalties, both teams have been atrocious, with ASU ranking 118th in the nation with 94.5 penalty yards per game while the Dogs are 115th, with 86.3.

Taking all that into account, here are some likely keys to success for Georgia:

Pressure Sullivan. Considering his relative inexperience, it’s unknown how he’ll react to adversity, but it would be a good idea to find out. Up to now, though, Georgia hasn’t had much success in this area.

Eliminate the turnovers. Giving Sullivan a short field will only boost his confidence and continue to stack the odds against the Dogs’ struggling secondary.

Protect Joe Cox. If the offensive line enables Georgia to establish the run and keeps Davis away from Cox, giving him time to find A.J. Green, Michael Moore, Tavares King, Orson Charles and Aron White, ASU will have a hard time keeping up. ASU probably wins this game only if it turns into a low-scoring defensive battle.

I’ve seen a lot of predictions for this game that have Georgia scoring in the low 30s and holding Arizona State to 14 or 17 points. Assuming the Dogs don’t keep turning the ball over, that sounds reasonable.

But if Georgia comes out flat on offense after two straight conference shootouts and continues its generous ways on defense, this easily could turn into the proverbial “trap” game.

What do you think?

119 comments Add your comment

Scout Dawg

September 25th, 2009
7:18 am

No trap. Dawgs put it all together for the win.

bubba

September 25th, 2009
7:24 am

the Dawgs will eat that QB alive

isloand padre

September 25th, 2009
7:25 am

Enter your comments here it is dry in arizona- humid in athens. ga has played tough opponents. itn will pay off evidently. it willl finally all come together

Meatcleaver

September 25th, 2009
7:31 am

Enter your comments here
Typical Georgia win. Close at half, but Dawgs pull away late. I’m thinking 34-20.

Also, every week we hear that the key to a Georgia win is to put pressure on the opposing QB. We’re all still waiting for that one. I’ll bet we’ll see Willie blitz a few times just to prove he remembers how.

Really?

September 25th, 2009
7:36 am

Bubba, when was the last time Willie’s D ate ANY QB alive? We’re talking about a revamped version of the Junkyard Dawgs here…”Willie Style!”

It ain’t the good ole days anymore.

#2 BAMA FAN

September 25th, 2009
7:38 am

Play GOOD defense if that is possible with free willie running things and get the ball to A.J. and the other dawgs pass catchers!! PAC-10 FOOTBALL IS WEAK EXCEPT USC!!

honest_abe

September 25th, 2009
7:41 am

willie was blitzing last week.

the d shows up. houston and washington emerge as the dawgs de’s. much better game from the secondary.

the offense will run, run and run some more. steady dose of caleb and samuel mixed with some play action. tavarres with another td grab.

uga 27 asu 13

Really?

September 25th, 2009
7:45 am

It would be nearly impossible for the secondary to have a worse game than last week. So that’s an easy prediction to make, ‘abe’.

As far as the DEs showing up, more blitzing, whatever…still waiting.

Minnesota Dawg

September 25th, 2009
7:46 am

This should be a game that GA comes out and rolls! We should have ironed out all our problems that we could and also see the problems we are going to just live with for the rest of the season. Just keep scoring a lot a ponits and we should win most of our games!

Really?

September 25th, 2009
7:46 am

Cue the crickets…still waiting.

41 38 49 38 45 24 37 41

September 25th, 2009
7:50 am

Willies defense will allow big numbers again. Bank on it!

Mikey

September 25th, 2009
7:51 am

I hope that CMR and CWM were watching last night. If they did they saw a demonstration of how to rush the passer, how to cover receivers, and in general how to play defense.
Both teams played inspired defense. It isn’t a concept- it is a reality and it can be done.

hamburger lips

September 25th, 2009
7:56 am

Joe Cox will have a lousy game. This will be another OSU game and dawgs will drop out of top 25. Mark it down.

Class of '98

September 25th, 2009
7:57 am

This game scares me. Everyone seems to be taking the win for granted and looking forward to LSU.

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
7:57 am

big numbers of sacks and pics by our defense would be nice.

hop

September 25th, 2009
7:57 am

First and foremost dawgs need to eliminate the turnovers, if we don’t learn how to protect the ball,it will be a long season.

this would be a good game to begin the process and if successful the defense will play better football.

Really?

September 25th, 2009
7:59 am

Yes, it’s sad when Ole Miss is fielding a better D than UGA. And they’re doing it with players who were in less demand than UGA’s.

But the real test is LSU.

J Dog

September 25th, 2009
8:00 am

Even though they lost, the Ole Miss defense looked pretty darn good holding South Carloina to 16 points and 285 yards total yards of offense last night. Much better than Georgia’s defense looked against South Carloina. Some of the Ole Miss players had just had the flu, so I figured the Ole Miss Defense must not have been on the field nearly as much as the Georgia defense and that’s why they had done so much better. But after checking, Georgia’s defense had been on the field 34:21 against SC and the Ole Miss defense had been on the field 33:35. Almost the same. So next I figured the Ole Miss defense must have much better players because they recruit better, why else would the Ole Miss defense look so much better than Georgias defense. But once again, after checking over the last 4 years, Ole Miss had 1-5 star, 9-4 star, 23-3 star and 16-2 star recruits on their defense. Georgia had 2-5 star, 25-4 star, 14-3 star and 0-2 star recruits on their defense. So that can’t be the problem either. So now I’m puzzled. What in the world could cause the Ole Miss defense to look so GOOD and Georgia’s defense to look so BAD?????????

SOS Dawg

September 25th, 2009
8:01 am

Defense needs to play with an attitude and show progress because its way long over due to have a statement game. If not could be either an ugly win or an ugly loss.

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
8:02 am

I like big sacks and I ain’t talking about when the QB gets tackled. But I do like seeing all those sweaty young men in a big pile. Did I mention that I like big sacks???

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
8:06 am

Alright first impostor of the day, next.

Really?

September 25th, 2009
8:10 am

J Dog, I’m gonna say….it’s because our schedule is too tough No, wait…is it because of fair weather UGA fans? I’ll bet it’s because Martinez has the flu. That’s it.

Martinez has had the flu for three years. That’s why Ole Miss’ D looks better than ours.

ANYTHING…but it certainly isn’t the coaching! Never.

barneyb

September 25th, 2009
8:16 am

This game should have us all worried. Dawg fans looking too far ahead to LSU and this one could really bite us

dap01

September 25th, 2009
8:23 am

The best strategy is to start the game off by kicking into the corner, heck if it goes out of bounds, ASU will get to start at only the 40 yard line. Then we can play prevent defense and then there is only a 70% chance that they score a TD. Some people use to manage the game in order to eventually win the field position war, but not us, we understand defense and special teams. Don’t worry about penalties, they don’t really do much damage!

You silly fans don’t understand the great strategy we employ at UGA. I guess that our coaches can continue to explain it to us each week until we do finally understand it.

PSJDawg

September 25th, 2009
8:24 am

Considering the speed at which we can score, I believe if we just eliminate our turnovers deep in our own territory (i.e. easy points for other team) and play decent defense, we should easily outscore them.

bling and blang

September 25th, 2009
8:28 am

This will be another display of undisciplined playa’s making bone headed mistakes trying to make it on the highlight reel. Its time to recruit players who want to play football at UGA and hire coaches who have a clue.

Lester

September 25th, 2009
8:46 am

Georgia is going to win big in this game. The best thing that could’ve happened to UGA did, they lost the first game, and the pressure is off to have a perfect season. They have played in tough games where they have had to overcome playing from behind. They have faced tough opponents. They have grown up and I are improving each game. The defense has seen anything that ASU could throw at them already. ASU has not even seen this kind of speed yet. Samuel will run for 100 yards and Cox torches the secondary of ASU for 300 yards. We are rolling the big red monster and after we crush ASU, LSU will be the next victim. I can’t wait to play Florida!

DawginLex

September 25th, 2009
9:06 am

hey lips,

I’ll take some of that action. From experience, the Joe Cox crow tastes better deep fried in peanut oil.

Washing it down with the “Willie is still a good DC” kool aid, changes the taste and makes you appreciate the crow that much more.

42-0 UGA

Chopdawg

September 25th, 2009
9:07 am

J Dog, I’ll tell you one thing: you can take all your recruiting “stars” and throw ‘em to the four winds, when 18-year-olds get to a major college campus their lives start over. This happens year after year, and why people put any value on recruiting rankings puzzles me more & more.

Habersham Dawg

September 25th, 2009
9:10 am

The new imposter drinking game! Get dopplegangered, take a drink. Find a doppleganger, take a drink. If the doppleganger/imposter alludes to homesexuality, you have to double down!

Me

September 25th, 2009
9:23 am

Yawn!!!!!!!!!!!!

J Dog

September 25th, 2009
9:26 am

Chompdasg, you may have found the problem. Somebody at Georgia is recruiting & signing all the wrong players. I wonder who does that job for Ole Miss??? We should send a SPY!!!

1eyedJack

September 25th, 2009
9:28 am

It appears as if yeller fuzz or m have morphed into hamburger lips since that beatdown by Miami.

Jacory Harris just threw another touchdown pass!

J Dog

September 25th, 2009
9:28 am

Sorry, I can’t spell Chompdog.

YoungDawg

September 25th, 2009
9:30 am

Go up top early to get ahead then…Pound the freaking rock! Shorten the game! That will also let D work on pass coverage & rushing the passer! By the late 3rd qtr start resting up for LSU.

www.UgaJersey.com

September 25th, 2009
9:36 am

The key to a UGA win over ASU is for everyone to go out and buy their dog an Uga VII Replica dog jersey at http://www.UgaJersey.com so that your dog can be a proud georgia fan like Uga.

Habersham Dawg

September 25th, 2009
9:41 am

Hey Bill, how about banning the advertisers like UgaJersey.

wiley

September 25th, 2009
9:46 am

The most important key is showing up to the game….this is ASU. Should be an easy win…even if UGA doesnt have a defense.

Shepdawg

September 25th, 2009
9:48 am

J Dog…………2 words……Willie Martinez

pj

September 25th, 2009
9:48 am

QUIT TALKING ABOUT LSU!!!! We have a game this saturday against a bcs opponent folks. This isn’t Tennessee Tech! We could LOSE this game!

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
10:01 am

Habersham, great game but like playing Hi Bob with the Bob Newhart show you can get trashed in thirty minutes.

Now if only the band can get Charlie Daniels to play at halftime. That would go great with my Jack Daniels.

J Dog

September 25th, 2009
10:02 am

It’s frustrating knowing we should be in the top 5, and knowing why wer’e not. And even more frustrating wondering why CMR can’t see, or because of friendship, won’t fix the problem.

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
10:02 am

No it is not Tennessee Tech it is Arizona State. What’s your point?

BullDawg Rick

September 25th, 2009
10:06 am

Eliminate turnovers to one a game… (This is the reason the D has fared badly to those that only see the score & not the game)

Cut the penalties in half (43 yds a game is ‘acceptable’)

Dawgs roll Sun Devils

31 – 17

John

September 25th, 2009
10:11 am

How did Ole Miss coaches get those 2 star players to hold USC to a total of 285 yards? I wonder what those coaches could do for Georgia’s 4 & 5 star players…

William

September 25th, 2009
10:13 am

Georgia Defense? Is that a oxymorn?

William

September 25th, 2009
10:15 am

Georgia Defense? Is that an oxymoron?…my fingers are faster than my brain.

champaign dawg

September 25th, 2009
10:15 am

Hey Bill,
What’s new with Figgins? I heard rumor of a decision on the rivals site, but I ain’t paying to find out what.

4DAWGS

September 25th, 2009
10:16 am

If our defense can tighten up the pass coverage we’ve got a damn good
football team. Beat ASU and LSU and folks are gonna take notice.

Cuz

September 25th, 2009
10:16 am

J Dawg. If we beat Okie State and then they got beat by Houston, we could be undefeated and still not crack the top five.