As those of you who have been around a while will remember, we often preview games through Q&A exchanges with bloggers who represent our opponents. This week, our Q&A is with AuditDawg, a genial, insightful UGA fan who most of you have probably met in the comments threads here. Audit runs the fine UGA blog The Hobnail Boot, which you should check out to get his thoughts on UGA football. I'll link to my responses to his questions when they go up.
1. South Carolina's secondary showed some weaknesses against East Carolina. It stands to reason that a QB like Aaron Murray could make the Gamecocks' defensive backs pay, but at the same time the UGA passing game showed flaws of its own against Boise St. What do you expect from this matchup between Murray and the Carolina secondary?
Georgia really struggled to hold its blocks and the wide receivers struggled getting open and hanging onto balls thrown their way against Boise. If the offensive line can get its stuff together and Mike Bobo can figure out a way to get more calls for Malcolm Mitchell (last seen splitting the Boise secondary late in the game) and the tight ends, I believe that Murray could light it up giving the struggles Carolina's secondary has shown last year and last week. As I previously stated though, this is all predicated on the ability of the O-line to keep Murray's jersey clean which I have little to no faith in right now.
2. Isaiah Crowell looked pretty good while sharing carries with Richard Samuel. Do you expect Crowell to get the lion's share of the carries this week? How will he do?
I honestly do believe he'll be the primary ball carrier in this game. Samuel is a Damn Good Dawg for taking one for the team and moving back to the tailback position to shore up lack of depth; however, he's never shown the ability to avoid the tackle and tends to go down on first contact. I think it will be a challenge to pound the ball up the middle just like it was against Boise (which has a top-flight DL like Carolina's). I think for Crowell to be successful, there's going to have to be some plays to get him outside the tackles and maybe some screens. The outside runs were pretty successful for him against Boise. However, given Mike Bobo's track record he will likely run Crowell out of the I-formation on toss sweeps twice in the first series of the game, both of which will go for 12+ yard gains. He will then revert back to the Shotgun formation and try to pound the ball up the middle which will not work at all. He will inexplicably refuse to go back to what was working (citing a need to call an equal amount of pass and run plays because Bobo loves balance for the sake of balance) and Crowell will have a similar stat line to what he did against Boise (15 carries for 60 yards).
3. Year 2 of Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense was supposed to bring decided improvements, particularly with personnel upgrades at key positions. However, Boise St. picked Georgia apart en route to their victory. What do you attribute Boise's success to? How will the Dawgs' D handle Carolina?
It's tough to judge how the defense performed in that Boise game due to who they were facing. Say what you will about Boise, but Kellen Moore is legit and has diced up every defense he's played the past three years like a master surgeon, so I don't hold it against the defense that he was able to pick them apart. It was a weird stat line to review as Moore didn't complete a single pass that covered 20+ yards. This tells me that the Georgia secondary did a good job preventing the big play, but struggled against Moore's accuracy on the short passes. I like Georgia's run defense a lot better this year than last year when Lattimore had his coming out party. The upgrade in size in the middle of the line through the emergence of Kwame Geathers and the signing of John Jenkins certainly was a plus against Boise as the UGA defense really limited what Boise did in the running game holding, Boise's all-world RB to a meager 2.4 YPC. I think the key to the game for Georgia will be similar to the Boise plan. Keep Lattimore in check by plugging the middle of the field and make Garcia beat you. No offense, but the game being on Garcia's shoulders doesn't scare me nearly as much as it did being on Moore's shoulders. In fairness, I still have nightmares from the last meeting in Athens (I know...nightmares from a win seem silly, but bear with me) when Willie Martinez decided that the area in front of the LB's and safety's should be wide open for Spurrier to run crossing patterns with the TE's and WR's and Garcia just dinked and dunked Georgia to death, similar to Moore last week. I can't help but believe that Spurrier will try to exploit that first. If Georgia can cover the short pass, I think the defense can hold the Carolina offense in check. If not, it could be a long night for the Georgia defense.
4. If you could have one player from Carolina's roster, who would it be? Why?
Is it a cop out if I just say offensive line? Personally, I'd take anybody's O-line in the SEC right now over the lineup Georgia is currently trotting out. Based on pure hype alone, I'd love to have Clowney just for the excitement of seeing his high-school tapes (although I figure that this coaching staff would determine that he would better be served playing fullback and would be another wasted talent in Athens - been lots of those the past decade). However, it's hard to deny after the Boise game that there is no true go-to guy on the outside, so I'd have to go with Jeffrey. Moobs or not, he's a proven outside threat and with a shaky O-line, Aaron Murray could really use a sure-thing receiver to throw to this year.