Key Matchups for the SEC Championship Game

Brooks Austin

Saturday's SEC championship game between the LSU Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs is primed to be a good one despite the 7.0 point spread in favor of the Tigers. 

The matchup features two of the nation's top units in LSU's offense and the Georgia defense, as well as the frontrunner for the Heisman trophy in Joe Burrow.  

Here are the keys to the matchup for both teams:

Georgia's Man to Man vs. LSU's Dynamic Playmakers

LSU's newly renovated offense concocted by the offensive wunderkind, Joe Brady is designed to place the defense in stressful situations by forcing them into one on one matchups on the outside against the likes of Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.  

With the Tigers running primarily out of 4-wideout sets - and even empty quite a bit-  Georgia's defensive backs will need to prove they have the ability to lock up on the edges. It's something we spoke to senior safety, J.R. Reed about this week. 

When asked how confident he was that his guys could get the job done he responded: 

"We're very confident. Confidence is the key when you play DB. Coach Smart and Coach Warren have done a great job over the year to get these guys ready. We have some things that we can adjust to, and we're going to run some different things and show those guys some different looks" 

USATSI_13734776 (1)
QB, Joe Burrow

Who's going to spy Joe Burrow? 

Contrary to what some may believe, Burrow has an enate ability to extend plays with his legs, oftentimes getting outside of the pocket and making on the run throws downfield. 

There are two ways to eliminate that from happening: A disciplined pass rush that plays with great lane integrity - not allowing Burrow to escape - or simply placing a spy on him. The latter is much more manageable to achieve on a down to down basis. 

So, that gives Georgia's defensive staff a couple of options. Tae Crowder certainly has the ability to run with Burrow in the open field, and the Butkus Award semifinalist will likely be UGA's first choice. However, if he is unable to get the job done, look for the freshman Tyrique Stevenson to be called upon. 

Georgia's interior D-Line vs. LSU's interior O-Line

What's the old cliché? Whoever wins the line of scrimmage typically wins the battle? Though not always true, it is more often times than not indicative of the end results. 

Though LSU has faced the likes of Raekwon Davis from Alabama, and both Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson from Auburn this season, it's Georgia who features the SEC's top rush defense. A defense that is predicated on the play of Jordan Davis and Tyler Clark. 

Ed Orgeron spoke to this concept: 

"It starts with their defensive line. They're very well-coached. They're agile. They move. They can take on blocks, slant, pass rush well. They do it all." 

When Georgia's big guys in the middle have success, the defense usually tends to as well. 

USATSI_13703353 (1)
DT, Tyler Clark

Can Georgia stop the run with five? 

We've already talked about the 4-wideout sets that LSU primarily runs, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire positioned to the side of Joe Burrow. This usually forces teams to empty out the box in order to limit the throwing windows provided to Burrow. 

Therefore, when you lighten the box you are required to stop Edwards-Helaire with five, or sometimes even fewer, defenders. 

The concept of creating space and finding the numbers advantage is the exact premise of the Spread offense. Leaving a defensive coordinator with two options: either place your defensive backs at a disadvantage by leaving them in one on one situations, or you place the front of your defense in a disadvantage by leaving just five defenders to stop the run. 

If Dan Lanning and Georgia's defense expects to leave it in the hands of his defensive front, LSU has no problems making you prove you can stop them. 


Comments (1)
No. 1-1