1. Don't fight Fire with Fire - common proverb
In Rocky III, just before the first fight with Clubber Lang, the announcers mention that when two fighters with the same style face each other, the advantage goes to the bigger and stronger man.
In last year’s Rose Bowl victory, TCU’s vaunted defense played Wisconsin’s powerful OL straight up and had success initially as their Linebackers swooped in and cleaned up plays. As the game wore on, however, Wisconsin’s run game began to establish itself as that big OL began to get some push and lean on the smaller TCU DL. TCU won that game on a last second two point conversion deflection by Tank Carder. Had the game continued another quarter though, I wonder if the result would have been the same.
The only sane solution for the smaller fighter then, it seems, is don’t have the same style. To this end, I wonder if Coach Pete had several of the defensive players cut weight on purpose. In the early 1990’s the Dallas Cowboys owned the NFL. Part of the reason was their dominating defense. That defense was built on speed. Almost always significantly outweighed across the board, Dallas’ defensive philosophy was to flow to the football and gang tackle. They had an eight man defensive line rotation to stay fresh and they shot the gaps like illegals shoot through the the border fence, rather than take on the OL directly. This led to disrupting plays in the backfield, slowing the RB or QB just enough to allow the cavalry to arrive or alter the timing of a pass. This is what Boise St. will need to aim for in my opinion.
2. A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective. If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Georgia’s defensive line is also enormous and, by all accounts, pretty darned fast. Their linebackers have sideline to sideline speed and their CBs seem to be pretty capable coverage guys. Our offensive line, by contrast, is fairly small and the right side (Kellen Moore’s blind side) is new despite having game experience. More than any other unit on the field, the offensive line acts as one, and this requires both experience and continuity. Make no mistake, this is a daunting task facing our boys.
Georgia will try to clog the run lanes, forcing the 'backs to bounce outside into the waiting linebackers’ arms. They will also try to force double teams across the line in order to allow the linebackers to flow to the ball like a pack of wolves.
I think our best alternative is to run the two TE offense when we can as this has the potential to steal the initiative away from the 3-4, forcing it back to a read and react approach rather than an attacking, disruptive force of fury. Spread looks can work here as well if we are passing. If UGA stays in 3-4 we have potential mismatches and if they go Nickel/Dime then they have taken some of the most athletic guys off the field.
Additionally, it will be to our interest to use Georgia’s aggressiveness and momentum against them by peppering our gameplan with misdirection plays. Provided it works, this will get the defensive linemen and middle linebackers moving in the wrong initial direction and allow our offensive linemen to take oblique angles and ride them out of the play. This takes significantly less effort than blocking 700-900 pounds of pissed off UGA Bulldogs headup.
3. A General is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him. - General Douglas MacArthur A leader is a dealer in hope. - Napolean Bonaparte
Honestly, I expect some miscues in the passing game as we have some inexperience out there. Perhaps lost in the fearful visions of tipped passes, dropped 3rd down conversions, and misdiagnosed hot routes though, is the fact we also have some experience.
Tyler Shoemaker was a starter in the slot last year, a position he returns to. While Mitch Burroughs has not been a starter until now, he does have plenty of game experience and his Fall Camp solidified his knowledge of the offense, where to be, and how to read the defense. Efaw is an experienced and savvy TE while Linehan seems to exhibit sound judgement.
Kellen Moore will also make the passing game better via his uncanny accuracy and ability to see the holes in a defense. One thing we, as fans, are not privy to is his input in the huddle. Last year Coach Pete said on multiple occasions; one of the biggest things about Moore is that his demeanor never changes, he is always calm. This stability can spread in the huddle and both Pettis and Young were on record for echoing this sentiment.
Kellen is like a coach on the field. I don’t know if it happens for sure, but I can easily see Kellen making sure Miller knows his assignment on a given play, who has the hot read, and what keys to look for before running that hot read. This should not be underestimated.
4. Turnovers are like Ex-wives. The more you have, the more they cost you. - Dave Widell, Former Dallas Cowboys OL'man
The next point is one that goes into every gameplan and has been harped on by every coach in the history of the sport…turnovers. It goes without saying that we can’t lose the turnover battle but I’m going to expand on it anyway. I’ve seen stats crunched at various times concerning this category and believe me, it is always a ridiculous number. Something like 68% of teams who lose the turnover battle will go on to lose the game as well. While I don’t expect Kellen to throw three picks straight to the opposition, no one can account for tipped balls at the line, fumbles, or receivers letting footballs bounce off their chests like pinballs off the side bumpers. This can be as much a bad luck stat as an indicator of bad QB play. Our receivers' hands and knowledge of what to do and when will play a big role here.
5. We play for field position...It's always best to make a team go 80 yards than 50. - Glen West, Coach, Brenham HS, TX
Special Teams. Field Goals are obvious. Georgia has an All-American and we don’t even have a starter yet; enough said.
Perhaps more importantly though, are return teams, coverage teams, and the Punter. Georgia has an All-American at all three of the major positions; Returner, Kicker, and Punter. Boise St. has question marks and a helter-skelter history.
This will be an area we need to overachieve in. In a see-saw defensive battle, field position becomes king, as each team attempts to slug its way closer to the goal with each passing series. During the course of the game, it will be Special Teams that determine who is getting closer to their goal and who is getting further away.
Special Teams can also ignite a team and break them out of a lapse in momentum. Allowing UGA to get a TD off a return would make our fight much more difficult than the score alone as we fight off a wave of momentum and a crowd that blows the roof off the Georgia Dome with its volume. We can reap most of the same benefits but with a measurably less amount of momentum in our favor due to a pro UGA crowd. However, the hit to UGA’s momentum would be about equal in my opinion.
6. Every 100 yards of Hidden Yardage is worth 7 points. - Bill Parcells; Former NFL Coach, Theory of Hidden yardage
We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. In Parcells theory, hidden yardage constitutes several areas; penalties, interceptions, punt and kickoff returns, and field position following kickoffs.I've covered most of them already so I'll address the only one remaining plus one of my own; Penalties and 3rd down conversion percentage.
We need to sustain drives, both for the obvious benefit of scoring, as well as the ancillary requirement to keep our defense fresh. UGA is going to try and run the ball down our throats to setup the playaction pass for Murray and all indications are they have the personnel to do it. Their starting running back is 240 with 4.4 speed (from what I hear). He'll be running behind a 270 pound Fullback and a couple of Guards that are between 325 and 350 pounds each.
Our boys are going to be slugging it out in the trenches against these behemoths all day long in 100 degree heat. It’s a dome but have you ever seen a football game where they measure the temperature at field level in a dome? I saw a Cowboys game played in a dome once where the measured temperature at field level was around 115 degrees. Our defense needs the rest and to do that we can’t hurt our drives via penalties that take downs away or put us in long yardage scenarios.
Additionally, we need to convert when the opportunity is there. By this I mean a manageable down and distance. Keeping penalties down and 3rd down conversion percentage up will be a major step towards a good day and a victory.
How we are doing in each category, obvious as it may be, will probably reflect how we are doing in the game and what our chances for pulling out a victory are. It’s basic stuff, but I hope this helps deepen your reservoir of details to pay attention to and enhances your experience while viewing this game.
I also encourage everyone to go over Kevan and Hatemay’s respective takes prior to kickoff to refresh on their points. I am simply an armchair general here, most my knowledge comes from watching the games and reading about things. Hatemay played QB pretty well and both Kevan and Drew are experienced writers with a depth of resources and knowledge themselves. Go Broncos!