The Georgia Bulldogs will have to amp up their pass rushing intensity even more when the Dawgs play the Alabama Crimson Tide Between the Hedges on Saturday afternoon.
Georgia is known for their fantastic pass rushers on the outside at linebacker. Many believe that this is the deepest LB corps in the country. With talented players like Lorenzo Carter, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, and now UAB transfer ILB Jake Ganus thrown into the mix, on paper the Dawgs can definitely claim the notoriety.
However, the unit’s first big test will be against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Alabama has some behemoths on their offensive line in OT Cameron Robinson and C Ryan Kelly leading the Tide up front.
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Though HC Nick Saban is still probably answering questions about his starting quarterback, it seems that FSU transfer Jacob Coker is edging out Cooper Bateman in the first part of 2015. Let’s not forget about the two other great players U of A has on offense: RB Derrick Henry and TE O.J. Howard. These are two special offensive weapons for the Crimson Tide.
Will the pass rush of the Georgia Bulldogs show up on Saturday and in what capacity? UGA has played its best football defensively this season when the team goes on the attack, making plays either on the line of scrimmage or in the opponent’s backfield.
Sack totals don’t do justice to what the Dawgs are accomplishing on defense. Though the leading sack artist on UGA Senior OLB Jordan Jenkins has three in four games, the defensive unit of DC Jeremy Pruitt is effecting the passer on every play it wants to. With Alabama QB Jacob Coker already throwing 4 picks in as many games, look for the UGA front seven to make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket and force some errant passes between the hash marks.
Even if the Georgia Bulldogs can dictate Alabama’s tempo with their strong pass rush, it’s more important for UGA to slow down the rushing attack of Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake. The last thing UGA wants to have happen is for Alabama to use the run to open up the pass. Henry averages 6 YPC running behind that big, bruising offensive line of Alabama.
Dawn of the Dawg
Alabama OC Lane Kiffin will want Coker to target either TE OJ Howard in a mismatch on a slant or a vertical strike on play action. Though the Georgia Bulldogs don’t give up the long pass in Pruitt’s defensive scheme, a barrage of short to medium passes to Howard could lead to a long day for the UGA defense.
Overall, the linebackers on the Georgia Bulldogs will need to play a balanced game to best contain the Alabama offense. Slowing down the run will force Coker into 3rd and long situations, where the LB Law Firm can bring the heat and disrupt the new starting quarterback for the Tide.
Should UGA be able to limit what Bama does on the ground, look for the vaunted pass rush to strike in a way that puts pressure on Coker’s decision making process. Eventually, he’ll turn the ball over so long as the UGA pass rushing effort is relentless. “If it keeps on raining, the levee’s going to break.” Go Dawgs!
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