Ask the Expert: Georgia Bulldogs

In anticipation of the Georgia-Arizona State match up on Saturday, Devils Digest sat down with Paul Westerdawg, publisher of the Georgia Sports Blog, to talk about the state of the Bulldogs three games into the season and what the Sun Devils can expect come Saturday in Tempe.

Devils Digest: Let me ask you right off the bat, what is the Bulldog nation's response to the surprising loss ASU suffered and what implications can it have this weekend?

Paul Westerdawg: "There's a concern that Georgia can come in with a big head, because they're gonna play a team that just lost to UNLV. But I think a lot of that would be offset with how poorly and unimpressive Georgia played against South Carolina (a game the Bulldogs won 14-7). So to me it's kind of a wash."

DD: Concerning that South Carolina game, some Georgia fans don't put too much stock into that performance, because it was just another hard fought SEC battle…

PW: "It was a normal South Carolina-Georgia game not because it was two SEC teams playing each other, but because the game against South Carolina is always very tough on Georgia. We're always the second biggest game on their schedule. At this point of the year they're not beaten up yet, and they're a talented team that just doesn't have a lot of depth at the end of the season compared to the beginning."

"We usually beat them exactly in that kind of a way (a close game), and we usually go on to have bigger wins against the stronger SEC teams later on. I really thought this was the year where we should really put a beating on South Carolina, but that obviously didn't happen."

"So in the end everything we saw in that game wasn't really a surprise, expect for one thing – our pass rush was abysmal. This isn't the same pass rush that you saw against Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Also, our kickoff coverage is awful."

DD: You mentioned the pass rush and kick coverage as not being up to par. What other areas of the team are you really impressed and unimpressed so far in 2008?

PW: "The kickoff coverage like I mentioned is bad. It actually got worse from last year. We're good on everything else on special teams but kickoff coverage. We do have a kicker with a big leg, but he can't just consistently kick it into the back of the end zone. But our pass rush is the bigger issue. We can't take advantage of what people seem to think ASU's biggest weakness is and that's their offensive line. We have to get the pass rush figured out so we can help our DB's because they're some concerns there too."

"Everything else I feel good about. Stafford is a good quarterback that walks into to the huddle with a primary play and two backups, so he does a lot of check downs. But South Carolina did a great job confusing him with their coverage last week."

DD: Whenever people talk about Georgia Stafford and Knowshon Moreno are always listed first. But is there a player on that team that isn't mentioned a lot and that ASU fans should keep an eye out for?

PW: "Receiver A.J. Green is a true freshman. He was one of the top receivers in the country coming out of high school. He's 6-4 200, runs very fast, has magnificent hands…just everything that you're looking for in a receiver. He's done everything we expected him to do. He had a big first down catch that help win the game against South Carolina."

"On defense (weak side) linebacker Rennie Curran is maybe 5-9 220 lbs. (listed at 5-11 228) is a lot of fun to watch and just wrecks people. He's a kid that everybody loves and pulls for."

DD: So much has been made about the fact that Georgia is traveling for the first time in 48 years west of the Mississippi for a non-conference game, which obviously is creating a lot of excitement for the fans. But do you think there's any sense of apprehension too for such a unique long road trip and is the team doing anything different to prepare for this trip?

PW: "This trip is only just 100 minutes longer in flight from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and a lot of fans make that trip. So I don't think it's that much a big deal that we're going to play at Arizona State and the team is going to get there on Friday just like it does for every other away game. But a lot of people think it's a big deal because a lot of the players never took a flight that's longer than an hour and half, and that might affect more the younger players on the team."

"But personally I don't think it's a big deal as far the distance, and I don't think the heat will be an issue either. I just think that the hydration may be an issue, because their bodies may not feel like they think they should feel when it's hot. The whole dry heat thing will make their bodies not feel like they normally would when it's hot like when the heat index in Athens is 102 degrees."

DD: Lastly, from everything you know about Arizona State what do you think is the key matchup in this game that will determine its outcome?

PW: "Given Georgia's pass rush problems and the fact that Arizona State has great wide receivers, I think that's the area that ASU fans should have a lot of confidence in. I don't think that you'll be able to run the ball, but if we can't have a good pass rush the ASU receivers are gonna be a big problem and the corners are that great either."

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