Last week was the Cocktail Party with the amateurs from south of the border. This week, the Dawgs step into the big leagues of tailgating with the arrival of the Ole Miss Rebels for Homecoming in Athens. On the football side, Georgia finds itself in a potential trap game situation following an emotional, physical game against Florida. This week I have kept coming back to 1996 when we had a letdown against Ole Miss at home following an emotionally taxing win on the Plains against Auburn. We need to keep that from happening on Saturday with a team that’s ready to play from the opening kick-off.
When Ole Miss Has the Ball
Hugh Freeze has brought the up tempo spread offense to northeast Mississippi. His offense already has the Armani Bear up in arms about player safety when his complaint is really about allowing his defense to get set. Our defensive coaches and players have said the right things all week about being prepared to face the hurry-up. We’re going to need to be in position and probably play a lot of base defense due to the challenges of substitution and getting blitz calls in from the sideline. We’re going to need to take care of the Rebels’ running game with a good push from the defensive line to keep our safeties back against the multiple wide receiver sets we’re going to see. Finally, we need to run to the ball and make tackles in space to keep the Rebels from playing in front of the chains and wearing down our defensive personnel.
When Georgia Has the Ball
We should be able to move the ball with a balanced attack against the Ole Miss defense. If our offensive line can move the Rebel defensive line, GurShall should have creases available in the running game as Texas and Alabama both found early in the season. Ole Miss has shown they have been able to put pressure on the quarterback, so we’re going to have to stay out of sure passing situations. We should be able to take advantage of matchups in the Rebels’ secondary when Ole Miss rolls a safety up to the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss is going to have to determine whether they want to sell out to stop the run and make Murray beat them with his arm or whether they try to play base defense and try to stop GurShall with their front 7.
What Will Happen
Can we be ready to play on the edge two weeks in a row or will we play down to our opposition? I think the game is going to end up somewhere close to the middle of those two extremes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get off to a slow start on defense as we adjust to the tempo of the Rebel offense and give Grantham a chance to make in-game adjustments. I think the offense opens up against an opponent that likely doesn’t have the depth of athletes to keep pace with our skilled people. While it won’t be pretty, the Dawgs should be able to put one hand on the SEC East championship tomorrow night with a win over the Rebel Black Bears.
Final Score: Georgia 38, Ole Miss 27