Keep in touch with UGASports.com
For a young defense that's obviously had some issues thus far in 2013, the idea of having to deal with 6th-ranked LSU Saturday (3:30, CBS) isn't exactly a comforting thought.
With a big, physical offensive line, a beast of a running back in Jeremy Hill and quarterback in Zach Mettenberger who has already thrown for more touchdowns (10) in the first four games than anyone in Tiger history, the task facing 9th-ranked Georgia (2-1, 1-0) would appear to be a daunting one.
While that may certainly be true, linebacker Amarlo Herrera said it's a challenge he's looking forward to trying to meet.
"They're going to come right at you. They're not out to try and trick you," Herrera said. "They're going to try and prove they're the better man, but I like that."
But defensive coordinator Todd Grantham says there's a method to what the Tigers will try to do.
"They have a method behind what they do from a matchup standpoint. They're calling plays inside and isolating guys on certain people. They're not just running up and calling plays," Grantham said. "There's some strategy involved in that and they obviously do a good job in the run and pass. They've got some backs who can carry and get downhill. The thing that gets set up off the run game is the play-action pass and it's always a guessing game as to whether it's run or pass."
According to Grantham, that's going to be his defense's greatest challenge.
"When you can do both equally well it makes it difficult on you as a (play) caller to manage that," he said. "You've got to pick your spots, be sound in what you're doing and the players have to understand the formations and what's happening on them."
Containing the 235-pound Hill won't be easy.
Hill leads the SEC in scoring with six rushing touchdowns and is third in the conference in rushing behind leader Todd Gurley with 117 yards per game.
Last week, Georgia was able to shut down the running game of North Texas State, holding the Mean Green to just seven yards. But LSU is not North Texas and the Bulldogs' front seven figures to have a much more difficult task dealing with the Tigers come Saturday afternoon.
"So far I think our guys up front have done a good job. I think we've progressed each week as far as setting the edge on the formation with the outside backers, or whoever the force player is," Grantham said. "I think we're headed in the right direction, but you're basically week-to-week from the standpoint of you've got to go out and do it every week. Obviously we're facing a very talented team that can run the ball, they're physical and a very good down-hill team. We know we've got a challenge and we've got to be ready to face that challenge."
It's Georgia's perimeter defense against the run which is Grantham's biggest concern.
On running plays up the middle, he claims the defense has held its own.
"Clemson had one that was 15-20 yards, maybe," Grantham said. "Other than that everything big has been a bounce outside."
Finding a way to disrupt Mettenberger will be another difficult chore.
At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, the former Bulldog may not have the wheels of Clemson's Tajh Boyd or South Carolina's Connor Shaw, but he's got the bigger arm and greater ability to survey the field behind what so far has been a rock-solid offensive line that averages well over 300 pounds.
"I think he's thrown one pick. He has a very good idea where to go with the ball based upon the pre-snap read. He's a tall guy that has a strong arm that can throw from the pocket and he can throw it from hash to the far sideline," Grantham said. "He gets the ball out quick under pressure and things like that who also understands the protections, where the hots are and things like that."
It doesn't hurt Mettenberger that he's got two of the league's more capable receivers in Jarvis Landry (24 catches, 364 yards and six touchdowns) and Odell Beckham (20 catches, 389 yards and four touchdowns).
Together, the pair has combined for 44 receptions while the Tigers' next-leading receiver has but three.
"They're balanced. Yeah, they want to run the ball and they will run the ball but they can still throw it and when they throw it they throw it down the field," Grantham said. "They've got a quarterback who can make all the throws, they've got wideouts who will go up and get it, and they'll take the ball from you. They've got good pass concepts of what they're doing. They're a good offense."
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial