No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0) will face its biggest challenge to date in the 2013 season when the Tigers travel to Athens Saturday for a late-afternoon battle with No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0).
Before the Tigers and Bulldogs clash, TSD is previewing the Silver Britches on both sides of the ball. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the fresh-faced Georgia defense under Todd Grantham, but today it’s time to hone in on Mike Bobo’s offense, triggered by senior quarterback Aaron Murray.
GEORGIA STARTING OFFENSE
QB: Aaron Murray (6-1, 208, Sr.)
RB: Todd Gurley (6-1, 232, So.)
FB: Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 257, So.)
TE: Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254, Sr.)
WR (X): Michael Bennett (6-3, 205, Jr.)
WR (Z): Chris Conley (6-3, 206, Jr.)
LT: Kenarious Gates (6-5, 327, Sr.)
LG: Dallas Lee (6-4, 295, Sr.)
C: David Andrews (6-2, 295, Jr.)
RG: Chris Burnette (6-2, 314, Sr.)
RT: Kolton Houston (6-5, 280, Jr.)
Notable Backups: RB Keith Marshall (5-11, 219, So.), WR Justin Scott-Wesley (5-11, 206, So.), RT John Theus (6-6, 298, So.)
Mike Bobo, a former Georgia quarterback, has been on the staff of his alma mater since Mark Richt inherited the head-coaching gig in Athens in 2001 and has been the offensive coordinator since 2006. He’s led offenses featuring Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green, amongst other current NFLers.
But, given the talent currently on campus, this might be his most explosive offense yet at Georgia.
Through three games (two against stout competition), the Dawgs are averaging 574 yards per game, sixth in the NCAA, including an average of 360.7 passing yards per game, ninth-best in the country. Georgia’s run game has been effective as well, as Bobo’s boys average 213.3 yards per game on the ground.
It would also be fair to say the Bulldog offense has been consistent this fall. Here are the lowest totals Georgia has accrued through three games: total yards – 536 (South Carolina game); rushing yards – 191 (North Texas); and passing yards – 309 (South Carolina).
Georgia doesn’t necessarily rely on up-tempo or no-huddle offense, but they do operate quickly. The Dawgs’ average scoring drive in 2013 has taken 6.8 plays and lasts two minutes and 36 seconds. Helping that is the fact that the offense has produced 16 plays of 25 yards or more.
Quarterback Aaron Murray is pulling the strings on UGA’s offense for the final time, and he’s gotten off to a strong start. Murray, who before this season developed a reputation for playing down in big games, has performed well against Clemson and South Carolina. He’s completing 72% of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns to only two interceptions. Murray is currently the nation’s fourth-ranked QB in terms of passing efficiency (Zach Mettenberger is sixth).
Behind Murray in the backfield is stud running back Todd Gurley, who’s averaging 125.7 yards per game and has scored four touchdowns on the ground. Fellow sophomore Keith Marshall will also figure in, but the total carries for this season tell the story. Gurley has carried 63 times to 31 from Marshall, so expect the former to get just about twice the carries. Marshall is more effective in a pass-catching role, however, already with seven grabs for 111 yards and a score in 2013.
On the perimeter Murray has options aplenty, from a trio of wide receivers (Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Justin Scott-Wesley) to preseason All-SEC tight end Arthur Lynch. Each of Georgia’s three main wide-outs has 10 catches on the season, with Scott-Wesley the most dangerous so far, averaging 23.4 yards per catch. Also true freshman speedster Reggie Davis caught a 98-yard touchdown a week ago versus North Texas and is worth monitoring. Murray likes to spread it around and will go to each of these targets with regularity.
Finally, up front, UGA has a relatively experienced group. The Bulldog O-Line has a combined 99 starts between the five regulars (Gates has 29, Burnette 27 and Lee 23 to lead the way). In the event of an injury, sophomore John Theus is the most likely to fill in for Georgia. Theus actually started at right tackle versus South Carolina with Lee out, and Houston moved inside from right tackle to left guard.
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