Time to take on the #2 Georgia Bulldogs in Columbia. Below are my three keys to winning this game.
Keep the Defense Off the Field
Because we have a defense that should be able to at least slow UGA down, we don't need to score a lot of points to have a chance in this game. However, we can't afford to have (1) tons of three-and-outs and (2) another turnover-prone performance. If we can't keep our defense off the field, they'll eventually tire of the mid-day heat, and if the heat doesn't get them, the "we have to win this game, because the offense sure isn't going to" mentality will. It happened in the second half against Vandy, and Georgia will hardly be more forgiving.
First of all, we can't give UGA a short field. Again, Vandy burned us when we gave them a short field last week, and UGA will do the same. This means limiting the turnovers and special teams blunders that have plagued us since last year's Florida game.
Second of all, with an offense as poor as ours is right now, some nice kick returns that lead to easier scores would be really nice. Chris Culliver and Captain Munnerlyn have shown some potential, so I have hopes that we can produce some game changing plays in this area.
Where to start? First of all, we need serious improvement from the offensive line. No more missed assignments and no more false start or holding penalties. UGA is going to bring it to us tomorrow, so I hope John Hunt has done something to get these guys to play smarter, tougher football.
Relatedly, I want to see us establish a running game tomorrow. Let's face it: we don't have a great QB and we're missing our star wideout, but we do have a talented senior RB in Mike Davis. I'd also like to see Stephen Garcia come in and run the ball a bit. Granted, our run blocking has been putrid so far, so getting the run going is going to be easier said than done.
Let's be honest: our chances aren't great in this game. If we play like we've played the last two weeks, we'll lose by three touchdowns, and even if we play really well, it's still going to be a tough, tough game.
I do think we have a chance, though. If our offense can play at least relatively mistake free ball and our defense continues to play the way it's been playing, we should have a chance to take the game late. If we do these things, I expect a big play or two to make the difference, so let's hope that we get some help from the return game and that our defense not only plays well but plays opportunistically.
If we play our best ball, I'm going to say that we win 20-16, reversing the score from the infamous 2004 game. If we don't play our best, though, expect a depressing game.