Fan talk: Looking at Georgia-LSU from both sides

big bulldog head logoEarlier this week a Bulldog friend of mine who lives in Baton Rouge reported that Tiger fandom was sounding a bit cocky about Saturday’s game with Georgia. But wanting to introduce some genuine Cajun flavor into the proceedings, I went to my favorite LSU fan, Louis Mayeux, for his view of the SEC Championship.

“While I’m confident that my LSU Tigers will beat Georgia in the SEC Championship game Saturday,” he said, “one memorable bit of history reminds me that nothing is certain in college football. In the 2001 SEC Championship, an 8-3 LSU team found itself in the same underdog’s role as Georgia this year, with No. 2 Tennessee in LSU’s present overwhelming favorite’s spot. The Volunteers were expected to win handily and head to the BCS championship game. But rising young coach Nick Saban’s Tigers upset Philip Fulmer’s Vols. The memory of that great win, which marked the beginning of LSU’s recent rise to college football prominence, should keep Tiger fans from overconfidence.”

Of course, Louis said, “LSU defensive coach John Chavis, who had that same role with Tennessee in 2001, is probably telling his great defense about that game as a cautionary tale.”

Noting that Chavis has been telling folks all year that his Tigers — led by Mo Claiborne, Tyrann Matheiu, Sam Montgomery and sleek sack master Barkevious Mingo — are the most talented group he’s ever had, Louis declared: “I’ve been watching LSU football since about 1957, and this is the best team I’ve ever seen.”

Having already beaten nationally ranked Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas, wins over the Dogs in Atlanta and in the BCS game would see this Tiger team finish 14-0 and lay claim to being among the all-time best college teams ever.

But, Louis allowed, “although LSU has tremendous depth, size and speed, Georgia is a ‘quality opponent,’ as LSU coach Les Miles would say. The Dawgs have a shot if they can get something close to the running attack that Alabama produced against the Tigers in a 9-6 loss. Trent Richardson broke loose for some strong gains for the Crimson Tide in that game, and if Georgia freshman running back Isaiah Crowell has a strong performance, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will feel less pressure passing. Murray appears more dependable than the Tide’s A.J. McCarron. Georgia looks to have more offensive balance than Alabama and Arkansas. But to have a chance at winning, Georgia must do an adequate job protecting Murray and avoid turnovers.”

LSU Tigers logoNo argument there. And I really can’t dispute Louis’ assessment that “LSU looks to have a big edge, with its ball-hawking, big-play defense” and that the Tigers’ depth at running back and offensive line “will be a big challenge for the fine Georgia defensive line.”

As for Jordan Jefferson, now solidly established as the No. 1 LSU quarterback, Louis noted he “has greatly improved as a passer, but could get flustered into making mistakes if Georgia can get a strong pass rush. Jefferson’s running ability is an added challenge for the Dogs.”

And, he noted, LSU also boasts special-team strength, an area that tends to either be a strength or a disaster for Georgia.

Louis doesn’t think predictions that LSU will get a place in the BCS title game no matter what happens Saturday will impact his team’s play against Georgia. “I expect the Tigers to bring their best effort,” he said. “This team is too competitive and deep not to.”

Louis’ take on the game is pretty reasonable. Of course, these are college kids we’re talking about so anything can happen. But let’s be honest: If Georgia wins this game, it will be the biggest upset of the year.

That said, I think Mark Richt’s Dogs are fully capable of winning this game if they play up to their full potential. But in order for that to happen the defense must control the No. 1-ranked Tigers’ run game and force Jefferson to go to the air under pressure. Georgia can’t afford any turnovers (that’s frequently how LSU starts one of its quick scoring spurts) and the Dogs must win the takeaway battle. Offensively, Mike Bobo has to call probably the best game of his career (he’s shown recently against Auburn and Georgia Tech that he has it in him), the line must somehow keep Murray on his feet, and Georgia’s QB has to be on target against LSU’s sticky-fingered secondary. He won’t get away with any ill-advised throws against this group.

In other words, it’s going to take a nearly perfect day for UGA and probably even then a bit of luck or some sort of meltdown on LSU’s part. But that sort of turn of events isn’t a rarity in college football.

If it somehow happens at the Georgia Dome Saturday, there’s no doubt we’ll be calling this a game for the ages.

With that, let’s let some more Dawg fans in on the discussion via the Junkyard Mail. …

Rontavius Smith writes: Hey Bill, I personally believe that my Dawgs have more than a fighting chance. It just seems to me that since the media says UGA has no chance, everyone just follows that direction. What’s your take on it? Do you think that all the disrespect to the UGA team will be used by the players to propel them past LSU and throw the world into shock?

I’ve been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen of LSU this season so I don’t think you can write the consensus expectation of a Tiger win off to media hype. Like I said above, though, the Dogs certainly are capable of pulling it off. Would that be enough to win them the respect they crave? Probably not. I’m not even sure a win over LSU would get Georgia into the Top 10 of the polls at this point.

Andrew Smith writes: Hey Bill, a wise man once told me a football game hinges on two things. Can you run the ball? Can you stop the run? I think the LSU game will be no different. If we can control the line of scrimmage then we will be more balanced and most likely not turn it over. I’m not that concerned with LSU’s offense but more with how they have forced turnovers and made teams one-dimensional on offense. How about you? Do you think our O-line will show up for the entire game or be hit or miss like other games during this season?

I think your wise man is on the mark. The question is, even if our O-line plays its best, will it be enough against LSU’s terrific pass rush?

dchesh45 writes: I think it’s going to come down to the Dawgs’ offense. I think their D will make plays and keep the Dawgs in the game. However, if the O can’t capitalize, the Tigers will wear them down. Special teams will also be clutch. [Blair] Walsh and [Drew] Butler have to be relaxed and need to just forget about the regular season. If the D shows up, Murray plays like he’s been, and Crowell/Thomas/Harton/Malcome provide some sort of run game to keep us from being one-dimensional, the Dawgs have a legit chance of the unthinkable. Let’s get out there and GATA Dawgs!!! Sic em!

Woof!

Jeff Myers writes: A UGA win will include our best special teams game of the season. Not just punting and field goal kicking, but coverage teams as well. Our defense must continue its formula for success. We may not shut down the run, but we must stop it enough to force long passing downs. Look for LSU to pound the ball, like they have all year, to tire UGA out. Our offense must be patient, and creative. Bobo had some great play calls against Tech, and a similar plan will be needed. Also, LSU will stuff our run game at times, and we can not get frustrated, we have to run and run creatively. And [Georgia must] win the turnover battle. This will be the best team we have played this year, they will make plays, and we may face adversity. The team must stay positive, and play with the heart of an SEC champion.

That’s actually the one thing that makes me most optimistic, Jeff. This has been Richt’s most resilient team and they’ve shown a lot of heart this season.

Keith Miller writes: Bill, I love the blog. I have a question that I’d love for all SEC fans to think about. First I’d like to say I love my Dawgs. Next I think LSU and Bama have been the best we have this year. But Bama lost, just like South Carolina. Why do we have a SEC championship game? To have a clear “best of the SEC.” We all say, coaches and fans alike, “we want to win the SEC, that’s our biggest goal.” Have we let the BCS nullify our champion? … How can we send any team that didn’t win its division and conference to represent us in a title game? I hated that our Dawgs didn’t go in ’07, but if they had played better early on … well we all know. My point is this: Champions are made of hard work and luck, and most of all a will to win in the games that matter most. What game is bigger than the SEC championship game? GO DAWGS, beat LSU!!

It’s a quirky system that doesn’t always see the best two teams in the BCS championship game, but think of it this way: If Georgia somehow wins, the SEC will probably get three teams into the BCS bowls — the Dawgs in the Sugar and LSU and Bama in the title game. From a conference standpoint, that would be pretty awesome.

Finally, Paula Bechtler writes: Hi Bill! I assume the Dawg Walk will take place Saturday inside the SEC Fan Fest at the Georgia World Congress Center — is that right? Do you know what time? Go Dawgs!

I put the question to UGA sports info guru Claude Felton, who reports: “No Dawg Walk this week, I’m afraid. Due to team entry locations, security and logistical issues, SEC guidelines do not provide for any special walks for either participating team.” However, pep rallies for fans of both schools are planned between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the SEC FanFare in the Georgia World Congress Center. Admission to the FanFare (which runs 1-6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday) costs $10 for adults. Kids under age 12 can get in free on Friday and for $5 Saturday. By the way, gates to the Georgia Dome open at 2 p.m. Saturday. Also Saturday, Scott Woerner continues his string of public appearances promoting the “1980 Dawgs” DVD set. He’ll be greeting fans and signing autographs across from Centennial Olympic Park at the corner of Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Geaux Dawgs!

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

321 comments Add your comment

chilidawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:42 am

Go dawgs! Let’s surprise some folks!

dan

December 2nd, 2011
9:45 am

After living in Louisiana for many years I’ve been subjected to numerous “Tiger Bait” taunts this week. I’m believing we will use the tigers for DAWG FOOD! Go Dawgs! GATA!!

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:46 am

UGA! UGA! UGA!

GO DAWGS!!

Andy Bedingfield

December 2nd, 2011
9:46 am

Geaux Dawgs!

Resilient Dawgs

December 2nd, 2011
9:48 am

The one thing that nobody is talking about that will be a very intriguing matchup in my opinion is the second half adjustments. LSU has broken away from teams time and time again in the second half, while Grantham has consistently shown that he makes great halftime adjustments. Everyone knows how important the first 5 minutes of the second half are, and I trust Grantham to keep us in the game. Either way, this is one hell of a Georgia football team. Go Dawgs!

chiefdawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:54 am

Forget the running game. Crowell is useless. This latest episode should seal his fate. With no running game the Dawgs lose big.

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:55 am

Resilient Dawg

Excellent point. One positive in Georgia’s favor as opposed to other LSU opponents is the Georgia defenses has been getting stronger and stingier in the second half. Of course they haven’t yet been pounded as LSU will do. I see it as vital that the Dawgs keep the offensive Mo in the first half and hog the ball

Cobb Dawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:55 am

Speaking of cautionary tales, wouldn’t the Tigers coaching staff be well advised to include their own failure in the 2005 title game vs. UGA? I think they were supposed to win that one as well.

DawginLex

December 2nd, 2011
9:56 am

chief

you have proof to back up the rumors?

Otherwise, they are more internet nonsense

Alphare

December 2nd, 2011
9:57 am

Bill, I’d say you are really level-headed this time.

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
9:57 am

chief,

If that is indeed true remember, Crowell isn’t the entire running game. If true it only adds the dimension of anopther RB having to stand up and shine.

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:01 am

I don’t think anyone doubts LSU is favored and should win this game but, it should be noted. Anything can happen when you put 11 college kids on the field.

DawginLex take note:

UGA29 – LSU 20

DawginLex

December 2nd, 2011
10:03 am

AR

I hope you are right!

On Dawgs 24/7, the Crowell situation was discussed. Reports are that there was an incident in the weight room where he would not work out and some of the upperclassmen offered him a free attitude adjustment.

Apparently, he is going to start Saturday..

Who knows. It is all internet mumbo jumbo

We will see tomorrow at 4

DawginLex

December 2nd, 2011
10:04 am

bill, your filters really suck

Gramps Dawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:06 am

As a big Dawgs fan I am hoping we will somehow pull out a win against a good LSU team.
I see the SEC championship game as an opportunity to winning bragging rights in
your conference and if all works out well you sometimes get a BCS Bowl!!!
I think the BCS format although better than what we had before needs to be improved upon or
we should move to a playoff format instead!!!! Woof Woof enough said!!
Sic em Dawgs!!!!

LHarding Dawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:09 am

Forget Crowell, the key to this game is giving the ball to Malcolm 25 to 30 times and let him pound their defensive line. At 225 pounds that should losen them up for some throwing to our wideouts. What he can’t do is fumble.

Rance Nix

December 2nd, 2011
10:09 am

Alphare

December 2nd, 2011
10:11 am

In 2005, it’s #13 UGA(9-2) vs #4 LSU(10-1),

But this year, it’s #14 UGA(9-2) vs #1 LSU(11-0).

The odds are much higher in 2005 than this year.

- Greater Baton Rouge News

December 2nd, 2011
10:11 am

[...] See more here: Fan talk: Looking at Georgia-LSU from both sides – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Drewski

December 2nd, 2011
10:12 am

Love the Blawg, Bill.

2009- Oregon opens the season with Boise. They lose, but go on to win the then Pac-10 Championship.

2010- Va. Tech opens the season with Boise. They lose, but go on to win the ACC Championship.

2011- UGA opens up with Boise. They lose, but go on to win the SEC? Coincidence?

2002- Tony Stewart wins the NASCAR Championship. UGA wins the SEC.

2005- Tony Stewart wins the NASCAR Championship. UGA wins the SEC.

2011- Tony Stewart wins the NASCAR Championship. UGA wins the SEC? Coincidence?

LET THE STARS ALIGN! GO DAWGS!

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:14 am

There is a very easy solution to the running game should IC decide he isn’t ready for big time football. Pound it forward with Big Tree and Figgins. IC isn’t the Georgia running game. He can contribute or not. Shoul;d he decide not to, any one of the other 4 TBs will

Realitycheck

December 2nd, 2011
10:16 am

The only thing better than Bourbon Street tomorrow night after a Dawg victory would be Bourbon Street the night after the Dawgs win another Sugar Bowl. GATA

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:17 am

Our Defense will do us proud…………………But we can’t block. We couldn’t drive a undersized Tech defensive front out of the way for yardage and Murray won’t have time to check off receivers. LSU man’s up at at the line with their DB’s and hits WR’s and buys that defensive front and LB’s that extra step to rush. I have watched our line pass block. They don’t hold blocks and do a lot of shoulder bumps..Bobo will need to get the ball out of Murray’s hands quickly. Maybe the TE’s, Charles and White, who are both hard to cover, can help. And as far as Crowell, I’m just not counting on him to man up……

RiffRaff

December 2nd, 2011
10:18 am

Maybe Crowell needs to sing “one toke over the line sweet jesus” to get out of the doghouse with CMR.

Felix Millan

December 2nd, 2011
10:20 am

I’ve heard the latest Crowell rumors. Do we know yet if he’s playing? Is he riding the bike? Is he pouting? Has a Senior leader ripped him a new one? Just what is the latest with this clown? We won’t be close without a running game, and unfortunately, he’s our best option. (this year)

DawginLex

December 2nd, 2011
10:20 am

chiefdawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:21 am

Dawgin Lex not just on the internet. Reported all over the radio yesterday.

Alphare

December 2nd, 2011
10:21 am

Drewski,

you are good. Here is mine:

in 06, Wyoming lost to BSU, UGA didn’t win SEC
in 07, Wyoming lost to BSU, UGA didn’t win SEC
in 08, Wyoming lost to BSU, UGA didn’t win SEC
in 09, Wyoming lost to BSU, UGA didn’t win SEC
in 10, Wyoming lost to BSU, UGA didn’t win SEC
in 11, Wyoming lost to BSU, will UGA win SEC?

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:24 am

Future back at UGA….One that doesn’t WANT TO COME OUT OF THE GAME. ONE THAT WAVES HIS BACK UP OFF THE FIELD…….

Drewski

December 2nd, 2011
10:24 am

Hahaha touche, Alphare.

robodawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:24 am

I agree with what most every writer says, it’s not their offense that worries me, it’s their defense. We cannot afford forced turnovers. If Murray has time to throw, is at his most accurate and makes good decisions, we’ve got a real shot at a huge upset. As long as our special teams don’t blow it.

SIC EM.

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:26 am

Maybe, just maybe Coach Friend has worked with the OL this week on HOLDING blocks, rather than just making contact.

Crowell

December 2nd, 2011
10:33 am

What did Crowell do to start internet rumors/reports?

AltamahaDawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:35 am

When one player is send onto the field, the other player comes off. Period. ………or he won’t be substituted FOR very much longer. Players don’t tell the coaches what to do.

robodawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:36 am

@Alphare: yeah, I don’t even consider 2005 an upset, that UGA team was way underrated. We matched up really well against LSU then.

This year our OL is a patchwork with major depth concerns and our special teams are not nearly as reliable.

KentuckyDawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:38 am

Our Dawgs have an excellent combination of cirumstances to accomplish something, I can never recall happening before. Take out the last two remaining unbeaten teams. LSU in the SECCG and then on to the Sugar Bowl and beat Houston. Wouldn’t that be sweet!!! Go Dawgs

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:38 am

The idea that LSU is a big 800 pound gorilla with the chainsaw pen1s is a serious misnomer. They are big and fast this is true. They are beatable. Realize, they are just kids playing football. They have an impressive W-L record, nothing more, nothing less. This LSU team is not the greatest in College football history. They are only an undefeated team that somewhere along the line will be defeated. It just as well be Saturday in the Dome.

old dog

December 2nd, 2011
10:39 am

We gotta run the ball, folks! Gotta run-block and run North/South!! (Any volunteers for tailback out there?) Give Boo the ball and send him up the gut……IC will be on the sidelines either unable to play or will scamper after first contact. LSU is smart; they know this! If I.C. shows up in a series, they’re gonna ring his bell and get him gone. They have seen the film, folks! However, Boo seems to wanna run it up the gut, and IF we can establish a little run game, we have a shot. Line, you gotta run-block as well as pass block! Remember, this is LSU, not New Mexico State or Coastal Carolina!

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:40 am

AltamahaDawg…………..For Georgia RB’s, that’s not correct. Unless it’s in the red zone with a certain package, Georgia RB’s can’t take themselves out. The RB coach is there with the 2 or 3 other Back ups and decides who goes in, but a RB can come out on his on. That is a FACT.

Felix Millan

December 2nd, 2011
10:40 am

thanks DawginLex. Woof.

flatsdawg1

December 2nd, 2011
10:41 am

Lharding….. I agree Malcolme better be in the gameplan. I believe our best chance is to pound them like they pound everybody else. Tight ends on short routes should be involved heavily in this game as well. An interception by the sisqo look -a-like honey badger is not what you want. I believe Brandon boykin will have a big game.

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:43 am

I’m looking for Murray to be sacked 3-5 times Saturday. and yes, I pulling for my Dawgs as hard as anyone, but unless something has changed on that OL since the last 3-4 games, We will need to protect Murray with a quick passing game….and we have one.

Desert Fox

December 2nd, 2011
10:43 am

I think the dawgs D matches up well w/LSU’s come right at you offense. It’s when Jefferson pulls the ball down and takes off can UGA get to him before he gets loose. It’ll be the biggest teat for the dawgs D this season and they will need a lot of help from Bobo and the dawgs O. That is where LSU has the edge based on their performances this season and GA’s inconsistency at running the ball and at times in the passing game. If GA can somehow make LSU respect the run then GA has its best chance if AM and receivers give an AU game like performance which was their shining performance to date. Lets not forget about LSU’s special teams. They’re outstanding especially on KO and punt returns. If GA’s D and O are clicking it may come down to special teams play as the difference in this game. Bottom line, GA needs its best all around game of the century to beat a truely good LSU team.

AltamahaDawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:43 am

Never seen a guy so wanting to talk bad about a player on his college football team. Still claiming he was faking his injured ankle against Kentucky?

ARdawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:45 am

robodawg

Geeze dude. That’s such an uplifting message. I’m guessing you’ll complain about being hung with a new rope?

LSU isn’t the greatest team in college football history. They are beatable and will be beaten at some point. It just as well be here and now. They are not invincible. Several teams have had offensive displays against them and their offense isn’t a surprise. They are big strong and fast but, big, strong and fast teams are beaten all the time. LSU despite the rumors, isn’t invincible

Tuck Fech

December 2nd, 2011
10:48 am

Awfully proud of the resiliency of this year’s team. Whatever happens tomorrow, keep your heads up and GET AFTER THAT ASS!!!! Go dawgs!

There is more at stake than you might think.

December 2nd, 2011
10:48 am

AltamahaDawg

December 2nd, 2011
10:49 am

JB you are correcting me on something I didn’t say. Read it again please. I didn;t say a word about Crowell not being able to take himself out. I said he can’t tell the coaches is is NOT coming out.

Why would he signal to come out then wave off the sustitution (which you want him to do)?

dawgfan

December 2nd, 2011
10:50 am

I’m sorry but I just don’t see this as quite the insurmountable challenge as some others. Its a college football game just like any other. If we make the kind of dumb mistakes that we’ve been known to make in the not so distant past this will be a blowout. If not, it will be a good game. They are talented and so are we. If we play with stones they won’t be able to just physically bully us like they have done most of the teams they’ve played. We aren’t Oregon, Arkansas, or West Virginia. Those teams do a great job with what they have but we have a lot more.

I think Richt needs to pull a “Hoosiers” and measure the goal posts or something like Gene Hackman did in that movie. People act like we’re playing the freaking Green Bay Packers. Good grief. LSU is a great team and they will probably win, but we can hang with them. This isn’t impossible. It can be done and crazier things have happened in college football.

Thanks.

JB

December 2nd, 2011
10:53 am

They are 18-22 year olds…put their pants on the same way we do, and they make mistakes. They have NOT scored with every possession this year and have actually punted the ball…..and teams have scored on them. Nuff said…Tee it up.