Oct 27, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrates with wide receiver Tavarres King (12) after a touchdown in the first half against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Ole Miss Football: A Preview of the Defense Against #6 Georgia (7-1, 5-1)


Oct 27, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) reacts against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field. The Bulldogs won 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

The tale of the tape for the Georgia offense is similar to Ole Miss, balance. Mark Richt’s club is 4th in the SEC in passing offense with with 265.25 YPG and 5th in rushing offense at 194.88 YPG, a half yard more than the Rebel rushing average. Richt is hoping to add another similarity to Hugh Freeze’s offense, a higher tempo. Dubbed as “the Oregon of the SEC”, the Ole Miss offense has been quite the hot topic in Athens. The Bulldogs had a lot of success running an up-tempo game against Tennessee and after the Wednesday practice, Richt said that the team is trying to get in more plays on Saturday.

Georgia has an experienced offensive line that could be the best in the conference after most of Alabama’s linemen are playing on Sundays. The Dawgs start juniors at left tackle and the guards, a sophomore at center, and a true freshman at right tackle. Georgia’s line dominates the Ole Miss defensive front in pure size, meaning the Rebels will have to utilize their speed if they’re going to get pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray.

The size disadvantage does not affect defensive tackle Issac Gross as he is consistently the smallest lineman on the field. Going against a larger opponent benefits Gross, heightening his first-step speed advantage. Uriah Grant and Jason Jones will have to try and get some push into the backfield or Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will have field days up the gut.

Despite being one of the top prospects in the country last year, right tackle John Theus is still just a freshman. With the disguised blitzes of the edge, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack could get big games out of the likes of Denzel Nkemdiche and the rest of the back-seven. Nkemdiche leads the Rebels in tackles (52) and tackles for loss (9.0). The redshirt freshman is looking to have a big game as he returns to his home state for the first time as a Rebel.

Not only do the defensive tackles need to gain ground up the middle to disrupt the run game, but the ends will need to make Murray uncomfortable in the pocket. He’s smart enough to dissect a defense when he has lots of time, see Tennessee. When he gets into trouble is when the pocket collapses and he reaches a pocket paranoia of sorts. This is when he throws off of his back foot, gets poor velocity, and makes mistakes, see Michigan State last season. You can bet hat Georgia will key in on stopping CJ Johnson, so it is up to the likes of Cameron Whigham, Mike Marry, and Joel Kight to get consistent pressure.

Ole Miss dropped a plethora of picks last week, but consistently found themselves in positions to make plays against an elite quarterback in Tyler Wilson. If the Rebels can transition from “in position” to turnovers, they could turn the tides in this game. A strip-sack-fumble by Nkemdiche, Johnson, or Cody Prewitt would be a big momentum swing in a hostile environment.

Wommack will get all he can handle from Georgia’s group of wide receivers. Last season, it was the tight ends who destroyed the Rebels, but the receivers are getting a lot more of those looks this season. Despite losing steady target Michael Bennett for the season, the Dawgs still have a stable of top receivers. Tavarres King is the big-play threat for Murray, averaging 19.7 yards per catch to go along with five touchdowns. King’s problem is his consistency. He can beat you for 100+ yards and a few scores, or he can register zero catches like he did last week against the Gators. It is hard to imagine him with back-to-back goose eggs, so Charles Sawyer will have his work cut out for him.

For those of you who follow recruiting, you may remember Marlon Brown. If you don’t, give “Marlon Brown Facebook Comments” a quick search. He is the number two receiver and will likely match up with Senquez Golson or Cliff Coleman. Golson can match his speed step-for-step, but Brown could have a big game if the injured Golson can’t break with him on intermediate routes.

Another threat that Georgia has at receiver is Malcolm Mitchell. Guarding him will require a lot from Prewitt, Chief Brown, and the other safeties as he is prone to make catches over the middle. He’s the most steady target and is thrown to when Murray is in trouble and needs to get the ball out fast. We might see Nkemdiche bumping him at the line on blitzing downs to take him out of the equation.

Freeze’s club is top 50 in both passing and rushing defense, but it is adding to the No. 24 turnovers gained category that will really get the defense rolling. The key to stopping the Dawgs is not shutting down their offense, it is forcing them into turnovers. If Ole Miss wins the turnover battle and gets at least three from Georgia, this game could make the SEC East race a lot more hectic. Hunker down Rebels.

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Tags: Aaron Murray Charles Sawyer Chief Brown Cj Johnson Cliff Coleman Cody Prewitt Dave Wommack Denzel Nkemdiche Georgia Football Hugh Freeze Issac Gross John Theus Keith Marshall Malcolm Mitchell Mark Richt Marlon Brown Ole Miss Football Senquez Golson Tavarres King Todd Gurley Trae Elston Uriah Grant

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