Each game has its certain matchups within the game that are oh so very important to the outcome. Matchups so important that they can be the difference in a win and a loss. For every game this season, I’ll be taking a look at the three most important matchups regarding an individual or even between position groups.
1st Down: Missouri Interior Offensive Line vs Jordan Davis
It looks like NT Jordan Davis will be available for Georgia this week after missing the past three games, and that is huge news for the Bulldogs. Davis, the prototypical run stuffer, is a huge difference maker for the Georgia defense. He is an acceptable pass rusher, but his run stuffing prowess is where his money will be made. His stats aren’t flashy, (which you expect from the nose tackle) but he affects the game by occupying gaps and allowing others to come make the play.
Here’s one of my favorite plays of his. He (#99) shoots his hands, actually extends the offensive lineman away from him, and put himself in position to make the play. The play was a read option, but his responsibility is to read the dive, which he does and does very well.
Had Bo Nix handed the ball off, that is a tackle at the line of scrimmage for the big fella.
The point is, Xavier Delgado, Mike Maietti, and Case Cook will have their hands full. Missouri has shown that they are a run first team, and if they want to get Larry Rountree III going, the interior of this offensive line is going to have to neutralize Davis at least a little bit or it could be a long day.
2nd Down: Ishmael Burdine and JC Carlies vs Georgia WRs
Both will see extended time this week with the injury to Jarvis Ware, and after the week that Missouri’s DBs had last week, it’s not getting any easier for the two freshmen as Georgia comes to town. Any chance of a Missouri upset is going to start and finish with the defense in general, but more specifically, the corners that will be opposite of Ennis Rakestraw.
Missouri has a solid chance to pull the upset if:
- Both are physical, and make it a point to these Georgia receivers that they aren’t intimidated.
- They can avoid penalties, specifically on third down.
- They can avoid busted coverages.
I like both Burdine, and Carlies, for the record. I think they both profile as guys who can be good players at this level. This is a tough ask, but both guys are very capable, and were recruited to this level for a reason. Last week against Arkansas, it seemed like the backend of the defense was struggling communicating, and getting their calls in. This week, with a new starter in the secondary, it’s even more imperative that the communication is on the up and up.
3rd Down: Eli Drinkwitz vs Kirby Smart
This matchup of intellect is something I’m really looking forward to seeing. Coach Smart is well known for his defense, and obviously Coach Drink is well known for his offense. It’s truly a battle of two of the top minds in college football. My question is, how does Drinkwitz counter? How does he game plan against Georgia knowing he’s at a clear talent disadvantage? How aggressive is he willing to get to win this game?
This is a good test for Drinkwitz. It’s not like every day you get to compete against one of the best defensive minds in college football. He’s going to have an opponent who can really make him uncomfortable, and honestly, the Tiger offense hasn’t had a whole lot of Teams make them “uncomfortable” recently. To win this game, it’s going to take a creative game plan, a break or two, and a whole lot of balls. There are going to be times where the Tiger offense will need four downs to sustain drives, and it’s going to be on Drink to make those calls. I fully expect that he will.
I’m of the opinion that he’s already SEC Coach of the Year, but if Eli Drinkwitz wants to guarantee that, he can do that by knocking off an elite coach like Kirby Smart.
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