SEC Championship: Why Georgia Beats the LSU Tigers
Though, according to Kirby Smart, the LSU Tigers present as tough of a task defensively as he's ever coached against in his career.
If Georgia is going to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive and win the SEC, they will have to play a near-perfect game. Today we look at how & why they will do exactly that.
1. Georgia defense's ability to limit explosive plays.
Everyone has spoken about the featured matchup between LSU's second-ranked offense vs Georgia's second-ranked defense, but what exactly makes both of them so great other than the end of the game point totals?
For Georgia, it's the ability to limit big plays on defense. In fact, Georgia has allowed the nation's fewest explosive drives (scoring drives that average at least 10 yards per play.)
It's absurd to think Georgia's defense will ultimately stonewall the offensive attack from the Tigers. I actually firmly believe LSU will rack up extensive yardage between the 20-yard lines. However, if they can continue to eliminate the big plays, Georgia's top-ranked red-zone defense should be able to hold up and force LSU into a few field goals.
2. Georgia's ability to force teams into three-and-outs
The Georgia Bulldogs have held their opponents to drives resulting in zero or negative yards on 17.3 percent of their defensive possessions this season, that's tops in the SEC.
Everyone talks about Georgia's running game allowing them to control the time of possession, but in reality, it has a lot to do with their defense's ability to get the opposition off the field and do so quickly.
However, they haven't seen an offense like LSU's quite yet this season. LSU's offense has had zero or negative yards on just 2.7 percent of their offensive drives this season.
3. Jake Fromm should have all-day
LSU's defense may be fourth in the SEC this season with 30 sacks, but the raw numbers can be a tad bit miss leading.
Due to the scoring nature of their offense, the Tigers defense is on the field more often than most, hence why they are 76th in time of possession this season. The LSU defensive line is ranked 102nd in the FBS in sack rate, bringing the QB down on just 3.7 percent of their snaps.
Despite having a limited receiving core — when they do decide to throw the ball — Fromm should have time to find an open receiver, or at least open enough to make an accurate throw.
Despite 68 percent of Georgia's roster being comprised of freshman and sophomores, having played in this game the last three seasons in a row truly matters. The leaders of this football team like J.R. Reed and Fromm will be able to relay to the younger guys how important it is to control your emotions in an environment like the one they will play in on Saturday.
5. Defense wins championships?
The question mark is there for a reason. It's one of the oldest clichés in the football handbook and perhaps it no longer applies to the modern age of football where teams are scoring at will, but some still believe in this mantra. I know Kirby Smart certainly does.
After all, this Georgia football team has been predicated on running the football and playing lights out defense. If Kirby Smart — a coach that's won three consecutive SEC east division titles for the first time in over 20 years — believes it, why shouldn't you or I?