As the Bulldogs kick-off the 2013 football season this evening, it is time to look more specifically at what is on top on a game-by-game basis. We’ve been through a full preview of the defense, as well as a combined offensive preview/2013 predictions post, but now it’s on to Clemson. Here’s what to expect when the Bulldogs arrive at Memorial Stadium.
Opponent - Clemson Tigers (11-2, 7-1 in the ACC in 2012)
Time/TV - 8:00 PM ET, ABC (National)
Georgia Offense vs. Clemson Defense
We’ve been ranting and raving about Georgia’s offensive potential for weeks, and that certainly doesn’t stop here. Clemson allowed nearly 25 points per game in 2012, and to go along with that, offenses averaged over 411 yards of total offense per game against the Tigers. While this is certainly not a defense that is void of talent, they’ve been susceptible to big plays for a long time now, and until that changes, people (myself included) will be skeptical.
Clemson ranked 110th in allowing big plays (of 30 yards or more), putting the pressure on Aaron Murray, Malcolm Mitchell, and company to beat them through the air a bit. Murray is fully capable of lighting up the Clemson secondary, but will Mark Richt and Mike Bobo unleash him? I’m more skeptical of that.
As far as predictions, I think we’ll see 150+ yards on the ground between Gurley and Marshall, but more importantly, Murray is capable (and in my opinion, likely) of going over the 300-yard mark against an underwhelming Clemson secondary. UGA’s offense should have no trouble going over 30 points in the game, and if they lose on the road in this spot, it is very likely to have been a defensive meltdown instead of an offensive one.
Georgia Defense vs. Clemson Offense
Tahj Boyd. Sammy Watkins. Those are two names that UGA fans should be abjectly terrified of as Saturday night approaches. Boyd threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, and as a 5th-year senior, he’s considered to be a legitimate Heisman threat. As far as “danger” from the quarterback position, Boyd is near the top of the list, and the young UGA defense has their hands full. On the outside, Watkins had an incredible freshman season (1,219 yards, 12 touchdowns), but hit the wall as a sophomore due to injuries. However, he’s shown the propensity to beat opposing defenses all over the field, and he’s incredibly electric with the ball in his hands.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Clemson did lose their ultra-talented running back, Andre Ellington, to graduation. We’ll be seeing a lot of the two-headed running back duo of Roderick McDowell and DJ Howard in this game, but at the same time, if Clemson is to succeed, it’ll be on the back of Watkins and Boyd. Georgia’s defense is extremely talented, but in an opposing environment without the benefit of much experience, things could get away from them quickly in the worst-case scenario.
Our friends in Las Vegas have set the over/under in this game at 70.5 points, and frankly, that seems even a bit low to me. Both of these teams have top-10 offenses in the country (at minimum), and whoever gets the most stops wins. If forced to pick the game, I think I’d lean toward the Bulldogs, but I see a game played in the high-30′s/low-40′s on each side, and it’s going to be extremely exciting and fun to watch.