However, I don't think it's as simple as "Them good: Us Bad." Their offensive line vs. the Georgia Bulldog defensive line is a very curious match-up. Let's take a look.
Let's look at their OL:
- OT -- Russell Okung (Sr.) Potential Top 5 pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Okung, the Big 12's top returning tackle, has started the past 34 consecutive games. Without Justin Houston at DE for UGA, we will definitely be facing a mismatch at this position. (Image above)
- OT -- Brady Bond (RSr.) 30+ starts for the Cowboys. If you're looking for a comparison, I'd say he's something like Chester Adams with more agility. An experienced, smart player with enough talent to be an NFL free agent. He's a kid that would be vulnerable to a big pass rusher if we had one.
- C -- Andrew Lewis (RSr.) 26 straight starts. He has played a little guard, and a lot of Center. Comparison...he's somewhere between Fernando Velasco and Nick Jones in terms of ability. Solid, savvy college veteran, but he's not a dominator.
- Guards -- This is where the Cowboys have issues. They aren't short on warm, big bodies, but none of them has seen a lot of action. A couple of JUCO guys and younger players highlight the list. It's always a treat to put experience DTs against inexperienced OGs.
Good to have the big fella back (Image: Hipple)
If we get competent play from the middle linebacker spot beside Rennie, we're definitely going to stop the run up the middle. We simply have better personnel. Our DTs should push back the middle of the line and eat up the zone read option, inside counters and draws from the shotgun. Owens, Atkins and Weston should draw double teams and free Curran and the MLB to make some plays.
Rennie is also so outrageously good in sideline pursuit on his side of the formation that the outside runs should be manageable. To shorten all of this...we don't need our MLB to play like Odell Thurman or Tony Gilbert to stop them from running the ball. He can play like Ellerbe pre-injury or Tony Taylor in '05 before he injured his arm. (I didn't discuss SLB because who knows if we're going to play 4-2-5 or 4-3 vs. these guys).
The question is...can we stop the pass. Martinez's scheme has never needed a 5 star alpha-male to stop a rock star WR like Des Bryant. Kelly Washington, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, Robert Meachem, etc. None of them ever had a 100 yard receiving game vs. the Dawgs. The scheme needs DEs who can put pressure on the quarterback. Period.
Jon Fabris has faults. But as a DE coach, he has produced the most productive and consistent unit on the field for the past eight years. Last year, his only healthy kids were Justin Houston (RFr.) and Demarcus Dobbs (2 biscuits shy of 300 lbs last season). Everyone else spent more time on the training table than the practice field. Particularly Battle and Lomax. He had extremely little to work with and as Bear Bryant famously said, "You can't make chicken salad without chicken."
My point -- history suggests that Fabris will have the DE position figured out if he has something to work with. Battle should be healthy and productive this year. Against Ok State in 2007, he played possibly the best game of his career. Dobbs says that he's lost around 20 pounds. Cornelius Washington and Montez Robinson provide exceptional speed (although inexperienced). There are options.
The question is...will the DEs be ready to step up in Game 1...or a few weeks later? Because that's the entire ball game for the Dawgs defensively. Can we stop the pass? Because I really believe we're stopping their run.
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