The Georgia Bulldogs are having their best season since their 2012 run to the SEC Championship that saw a tragic loss to Alabama in the final seconds. Kirby Smart has come into his own as the second-year head coach for the Dawgs as they are one of the final four teams competing in the College Football Playoff. Georgia and Oklahoma square off in the Rose Bowl.
The journey to the CFP has bee pleasant, yet challenging one for the Dawgs. While they have faced spread teams on the way to the Rose Bowl (Notre Dame, Missouri, Auburn), they have not seen the dynamic offence that is Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma’s offense is very good but so is Georgia’s defense; Oklahoma’s defense may not match up well with Georgia’s slow grind offense though. It will be a battle to the very end but here are three ways for the Dawgs to clinch their spot in CFP National Championship.
3 Keys for Georgia in the Rose Bowl
Take away their Running Backs and Tight End Mark Andrews.
Oklahoma has four running backs that they use interchangeably but Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon are the two leading horses. Dimitri Flowers is a fullback that is used very often in their two-back sets. They use these two-back sets for their run-pass option game where the running backs block or flare out as a receiver. The running backs account for 38% of the yards receiving and tight end Mark Andrews leads the Sooners in receiving touchdowns with eight. Georgia cannot let Oklahoma sneak the running backs out of the backfield with their play action. Andrews lines up as a wide receiver so it will be intriguing to see how Georgia will play him. Georgia should have a player physical and fast enough to cover Andrews one-on-one; if not, the coaches will need to find a cover-scheme to minimize his effect in the passing game.
Isolate the Outside Linebackers in Coverage
In Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State, their spread attack and motion aggravated Oklahoma’s base 3-4 defense. Their outside linebackers can rush the passer, but when asked to sit in coverage they struggled. Iowa State used play action to suck them in and throw screens around them and seams over their heads. Iowa State also took advantage of their blitzes by throwing to the flats. Quarterback Jake Fromm and the offensive line must see these pre-snap signs and check to the proper call. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Caleb Kelly aren’t asked to drop on coverage much; when they are, the Dawgs need to gash them.
Take advantage of every opportunity
In Georgia’s loss to Auburn, they had multiple dumb penalties, missed some wide open targets on offense and got consistently gashed on defense. While they cleaned it up in the SEC Championship, they will be coming off of a whole month off of rest. They cannot afford to come out rusty against a team like Oklahoma. The Dawgs need to come out hitting and shake that rust off early so the Sooners can’t get going against them. Either way the game goes, it’s going to be a wild New Year’s Day.