Tight Guard - #74 Max Jean-Gilles (6-4, 340, Sr.)
Tight Tackle - #66 Dennis Roland (6-7, 309, Sr.)
C #50 Russ Tanner (6-4, 297, Sr.)
Strong Tackle - #72 Daniel Inman (6-7, 328, Jr.)
Strong Guard - #70 Nick Jones (6-3, 285, Jr.)
Five returning Broncos on the defensive line who started at least one game. Dennis Ellis (6-3, 270), who originally signed with Texas A&M out of high school, but spent the past two seasons playing JC ball is also expected to play in Saturday.
Ryan Schnetzer (6-3, 278, Sr.) is expected to alternate series with Tanner at Center.
On paper, this is a matchup that heavily favors Georgia. They have experience and size on their side, and should allow the Bulldog backs to eat up big chunks of yards. The Broncos absolutely must get their backs up when in the red zone to slow down the Georgia express. Otherwise, it could be a blowout. If Georgia is allowed to pound it out on the ground, and mix in the pass from quarterback D.J. Shockley without any pressure from the front four, they will win the game. It's really that simple. The Bronco defensive line must do what it does best--stop the run--but it must also create havoc for Shockley when he drops to pass and above all, keep him from scrambling for first downs, ala the Liberty Bowl game. Shockley has much more ability, is quicker and more mobile than the Louisville quarterbacks. The former Elite 11 quarterback who is starting his first game must be pressured into mistakes.
Boise State Offensive Line vs. Georgia Defensive Line
Left Tackle - #73 - Daryn Colledge (6'5.5, 309lbs., Sr.)
Left Guard - #66 -Tad Miller (6'5, 305, So.)
Center - # 54 - Jeff Cavender (6'2, 290, So.)
Right Guard - # 64 - Pete Cavender (6'2, 290, So.)
Right Tackle - # 79 - Ryan Clady (6'6, 315, Fr.)
The Bronco offensive line is generally regarded as one of the best in the nation. However they are young, with Colledge as the lone senior along with 3 sophomores and a freshman. In contrast, the Georgia defensive front features 3 seniors and 1 junior. Simply put, if the Broncos lose this matchup, they will get creamed Saturday. I rate it a slight edge for Boise State.
#5 Jared Zabransky (6-2, 205, Jr.)
#3 D.J. Shockley (6-1, 206, Sr.)
Zabransky was impressive in leading the Broncos into the top 10 as a sophomore. His running and throwing will keep the Georgia defense off-balance. Shockley, a former Elite 11 quarterback, has the potential to do the same. He is quicker and more athletic than Zabransky. Both quarterbacks need to work on being more consistent throwing the ball. An edge to Boise State at quarterback although not as much as some people might think.
Boise State Receivers vs. Georgia Secondary
The Bronco receivers, while possessing speed, ability and great hands, lost quite a bit of depth with the one-game suspension of leading returner Drisan James, the ineligibility of Chris Christopher and the loss of senior Josh Smith. Gerald Rabb (6-2.5, 200, Jr.) will play his first down for Boise State Saturday after ending a stellar junior college career. The conversion of Naanee from quarterback really helped this position considerably. The transfer of Clasen from Oregon State aids the Broncos as well. In addition, Vinny Perretta (5-9.5, 193, Fr.) has been playing extremely well. At tight end, Bronco fans are very glad that Schouman (6-2, 220, Jr.) has returned, seemingly in great form. His presence can change the game for the Boise State offense. A taller receiver such as Rabb, Naanee or Aiona Key (6-4, 205, Fr.) does present matchup problems for Jennings in key short yardage situations. The fade pattern where Zabransky throws a jump ball to a taller receiver could also leave the smaller Jennings in trouble. Blue is the star of the Bulldog secondary, and if he's allowed to wreak havoc against the Bronco offense, it's all Georgia. If Drisan James were in this game, the Broncos would have a good edge in this matchup. As it is, perhaps a slight edge to Boise State.
Boise State Secondary vs. Georgia Receivers
Look to see Georgia quarterback Shockley run a controlled passing game to establish early confidence but also look to see him taking chances early and often to new starting receivers McClendon and Bailey. If and when the Broncos load the box and decide to double up on tight end Pope, who had 25 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns last year, look to see if Coach Richt creates ways to exploit the Bronco defense behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties.
A cover one man defense can be susceptible to crossing routes, combo routes, and any routes where the WR has a choice of which direction break. At the same time, a physical cover one defense can set the tone early for an aggressive minded team. This is where the inexperience of the Georgia receiving crew could come into play. They will need to be on the same page as Shockley when making pre-snap reads and run good routes that will turn the Bronco secondary's hips. Pope is one of the premier tight ends in the nation with a unique combination of extraordinary size, speed, and hands and will probably be the first read in many of the pass plays Georgia implements for game one of the 2005 campaign. Taking away Shockley's first two reads will be a key factor if Boise State is to be successful in the turnover department.
It is important for Tadman to play smart and be selectively aggressive. He needs to carry a pass first, run second mentality on September 3.
Georgia Running Backs:
Boise State Running Backs:
The wildcard in the running game is QB DJ Shockley and as we saw at the Liberty Bowl, a quick and savvy running QB can give the Boise State defense fits. Both of these groups are extremely talented. An edge to Georgia in this area.
Boise State will be hurt by the loss of expected starter Colt Brooks due to a one-game suspension and the injury of his backup, Ben Chuckovich. A possible draw in this area tilts to an advantage for Georgia.
Boise State's Kyle Stringer is one of the best punters in the country, and his booming kicks could help Boise State in the battle for field position. His counterpart is Gordon Ely-Kelso. Advantage to Boise State.
Brandon Couto will be the kicker for Georgia. Stringer appears to have won this job for Boise State. He has the strong leg and has been improving his accuracy. Advantage to Georgia here.
Punt Returns-- Thomas Flowers (5-10, 197, So.) for Georgia and Cole Clasen
for Boise State. Flowers was #12 in the nation last year--advantage Georgia.
Kickoff Returns--Thomas Brown and Bryan McClendon for Georgia, Lee Marks and Quinton Jones for Boise State. Decided advantage for Boise State.
Mark Richt for Georgia, who has led the Bulldogs to the top 15 in each of the past three seasons. Dan Hawkins for Boise State has done the same for the Broncos. However, Hawkins is 2-4 against schools from "BCS" conferences. The performance in the Liberty Bowl caused Hawk to lead the charge to Amp It Up this season. Amp It Up in the weight room, Amp It Up in Practice and Amp It Up in the classroom. The players have responded and are bigger and stronger. Enough so to make up a big size deficit? That's the million-dollar question. This matchup is a draw.
The game will be hot, with temperatures expected at right around 90 for gametime, but the humidity will not be as high as it was several weeks ago in Athens. Since both teams are quite used to heat, this should be a non-factor. The crowd of 93,000 could be if Georgia explodes to a quick lead. It will be the kind of crowd that the Bronco players have been eager to perform in front of, and could actually work to their advantage. Suspensions, defections and injuries are approximately equal for both sides. Everyone will be glad to just tee the ball up and play football.
Boise State has an edge at quarterback and a slight edge along the front on offense and in the comparison between receivers. Georgia has a mismatch in favor of its offensive line, an edge at running back and a slight edge at linebacker. Because of the inexperience in the matchup between the Georgia receivers and the Bronco secondary, that is a draw. Coaching is virtually even, and there shouldn't be any other factors that favor one team or the other. Boise State has a definite advantage on special teams.
So Boise State has advantages in four matchups and Georgia has the upper hand in three of them, including a huge difference in favor of their offensive line vs. the Bronco defensive line. Both these teams reached the top 10 last season and both have finished in the top 15 in each of the past three seasons. Both are ranked in the top 20 and feature young outstanding head coaches and coaching staffs. This one is about as even as you can get, very similar to last year's Liberty Bowl.
I see every outcome possible--a narrow Georgia win, a close Boise State win, a Georgia blowout and a Boise State blowout. In short, anything can happen and the game will be decided by:
- Which team gets the best start
- Field possession and control of the ball
- Finishing drives--taking the ball in for touchdowns or field goal attempts