Everyone feeling refreshed after a week off? Or are you struggling after a week of no Buffaloes football? Personally, I'm busy helping a friend produce a Haunted House in Boulder (don't worry, we'll offer a discount to all you Ralphie Report readers).
I bet you're ready for a game preview. Well never fear, it's all after the jump!
Considering the performance thus far this season by Georgia's offense, I am feeling alright going into the game. Or at least, every time I forget that they've been playing WITHOUT A.J. Green. Oh, what's that? You want a game preview that doesn't focus solely on Green's return? Well I can do that for you, but we've got to talk about him a little bit. He is pretty impressive. He is huge (though not that strong, so I think we might see some press coverage by our cornerbacks) and he runs great routes. But more than anything he can go up and get the ball. This is great for the Georgia offense, because Aaron Murray isn't the most accurate of QBs. But with Georgia's wide receivers, he doesn't have to be. Murray will put the ball up in the air, and all of those receivers can go up and get it. This will be an interesting test for our defensive backs.
Now while lots of talk seems to be centered on the passing game, Georgia will come out pounding the ball. Sure, they'll try to get the ball to Green early, but Washaun Ealey and the rest of those running backs will log plenty of early carries. Fortunately, our defense has been solid against the run. If we can limit the huge gains without having to stack the box, Georgia will be forced to pass the ball. Remember, Murray is just a redshirt freshman who has been inconsistent this season. He has played well, but he can be rattled if the gameplan isn't working. He is athletic and can escape the rush, but I would rather have him running the ball than Green or someone else getting the ball downfield. If we can send a few blitzes in early to rattle him and make him a little jumpy, he might not look quite as far downfield for the rest of the game. Good coverage will also help, so hopefully Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith can step up. Not to mention extremely good coverage and recognition from Ray Polk and Anthony Perkins.
Matchups I'm Watching:
Georgia's wide receivers vs. middle of CU coverage
-Hawaii's offense took advantage of some coverage deficiencies over the middle. Of course, that's exactly what the Run-N-Shoot is designed to do, so it was to be expected. But with yet another injury at nickleback (really? REALLY?!?), I wonder if Georgia doesn't try to send their pass-catchers across the middle a little more than they usually do.
-Now clearly it wont be solely up to Cunningham and Pericak (we have these guys together for two years, can anyone come up with a nickname for them?) to slow down the Georgia running game. But those two guys will be huge in gumming up the line of scrimmage and keeping blockers away from the linebackers behind them. These guys are pretty darn solid there on the line and if they have good games, they force Georgia to change their offensive philosophy. Always a good thing.
Aaron Murray vs. CU's pressure
-B.J. Beatty, Nick Kasa, Josh Hartigan, Forrest West, Marquez Herrod, buckle up those helmets. If they can get to Murray early and get him to lose faith in his protection, the downfield passing game that Georgia can employ goes out the window. We will also see the benefits of having a speedy linebacker like Jon Major when Murray takes off. Murray can move, but he can't outrun Major.
Now I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan (Born in Dallas, so no judging me for this), so I'm familiar with Todd Grantham. Fortunately, the shift to the 3-4 defense takes some time. At least...fortunately for us. They've got some athletes, but they're still having trouble getting them in the right places. Of course, this brings us to what I believe to be the biggest challenge for our offense: We've got some big bodies along our offensive line, but they're not the most agile group. Hopefully the mixture inside of Ethan Adkins, Mike Iltis and Ryan Miller can handle the Georgia three-man defensive line. I like Nate Solder and David Bakhtiari out in space against the Georgia linebackers. As long as our running backs show the improved patience they did two weeks ago against Hawaii, I think we can establish an offensive rhythm early.
Tyler Hansen. He showed far more poise against Hawaii (in the second half at least) than he did against Cal. He needs to continue to build on that. I think he can, and I think our new receivers have all improved in each game. Toney Clemons, Paul Richardson and Travon Patterson hopefully have made even larger jumps during the bye week. Some people like to have a bye week later in the season, but I actually like it earlier. I think it helps guys recover and get into a rhythm, and I think guys like these will benefit. You get to go back to basics, see what worked and what didn't and you get to take time to get your body ready for the long haul. I think we see a big game for one of brand new transfers. Richardson and Patterson have both shown us good things, and I think we see that translate to a big day for one of them.
Matchups I'm Watching:
CU tight ends vs. Georgia linebackers
-I'll keep harping on this until Eric Kiseau begins to really use our TEs. I think Deehan is a better pass-catcher than he is given credit for. For example, all of his catches went for first downs against Hawaii. And they still haven't involved DaVaughn Thornton as much as any of us would like. He has gotten plays in each of the games, but the ball just hasn't gone his way. I think the two weeks off make the difference here. Georgia's linebackers, specifically the guys on the outside, aren't as used to coverage schemes. If we can exploit the inexperience in those areas of the field with short passes to these guys in the soft spots of the defense, I think we can move the chains pretty easily.
CU running backs vs. the CU passing game.
-Speaking of Georgia's linebackers in coverage, the coaches need to get the ball to Rodney Stewart and Brian Lockridge out in the flats and on screens. For the same reasons as above, we can pick up plenty of yards by getting the ball out wide quickly.
CU offense vs. THOSE FRIGGIN' PENALTIES
-This is ridiculous. More than 9 per game again?!? Really?? Yes, they have had far more penalties in the first half of games, when they have been worse at everything. That doesn't really make me feel better though. I think avoiding penalties will allow Tyler Hansen and our offense to get in a groove and score points quickly. We have shown the ability to put together both long drives and quick drives. If we can play smart early (ie No Penalties!), I think we can get a lead early.
I picked it right last week, though my score prediction was WAY off. This week, I say we win again (consecutive wins, you say? Only the third time since Hawkins got here...), but I say it's close. It was close last time, and Georgia is good despite their record. I don't think we solve our penalty problems, but our defense is solid. I think we win 27-20. I think having the Nat'l Championship team there helps a lot.