The Georgia Game: Final News & Notes

Gameday is finally upon us. Here is a look at some final news and notes headed into the Georgia game Saturday night. Clemson enters the game as an 8.5 point underdog to the eighth ranked Bulldogs.

* While the Tigers will likely try to test the secondary of the Georgia Bulldogs early, don't expect Clemson to completely abandon the running game. Tommy Bowden wants balance, and he'll give both Bernard Rambert and Yusef Kelly the opportunity to prove themselves. In fact, don't be surprised to see them both line up in the backfield at the same time either as split backs, or with Kelly lining up at fullback.

* Kelvin Grant and Justin Miller will be the two true freshmen that see the most action Saturday night. Miller may be utilized as a kick returner and Grant will line up as the X receiver. Grant's playing time will be largely dictated by the health of Kevin Youngblood. Kelvin Morris and Vontrel Jamison also figure to be in the defensive rotation.

* The surprise player that nobody seems to be talking about is sophomore tight end Ben Hall. I wouldn't be suprised to see him used extensively Saturday night, much more than what he was used to last season. Hall is poised for a big year, Simmons just needs to get him the ball on those underneath routes.

* The current weather forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms Saturday in Athens with a 70% chance of rain during the day.

* The current line on the game is Georgia by 8.5 points.

* The Tigers' injury report released by Clemson Sports Information Tim Bourret looks like this:

Bernard Rambert, RB, Questionable, sprained ankle.
Derrick Hamilton, WR, Questionable, sprained ankle
Kevin Youngblood, WR, Probable, sprained ankle
Dustin Fry, OL, out, dislocated kneecap
Roscoe Crosby, WR, out for the year, Elbow Surgery

* The Bulldogs will start a true freshman Saturday night on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Kedric Golston, one of the top recruits in the southeast from a year ago, we'll see extensive playing time against the Tigers. As many as 10 more true freshman could also see action for Georgia.

* Georgia will also use redshirt freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley early in the first half. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the game on or before the third series. Shockley presents many of the same problems Woodrow Dantzler did to opposing defenses just one year ago.

It will be important for defensive line to try and contain Shockley so that he doesn't get to the corner, especially if he's running on a slick surface. Make no mistake about it, Mark Richt isn't playing Shockley for his health, he knows that he brings an extra dimension to the game that Clemson may not necessarily be prepared for.

* One of the most important aspects to tomorrow's game is the performance of quarterback Willie Simmons. Simmons admitted earlier this week that sometimes he allows himself to get too emotional, especially early in the game. The key for him will be in the first quarter.

If Simmons is able to lead the Tigers down the field early, Clemson should be able to put up a lot of points against a questionable UGA secondary. If not, it could be a long evening. Just like Dantzler took his chances on the run, Simmons will do it through it air Saturday night.

* The next big key obviously rests with the defense. The defensive line of Khaleed Vaughn, Nick Eason, Bryant McNeal, and Donnell Washington must get pressure on David Greene to help ease the burden in the secondary. And speaking of the secondary, the Tigers will play more zone against Georgia in the hopes of not giving up the big play. If David Greene is going to beat the Tigers, he'll have to do it with the short passing game.

This actually could bode very well for Clemson considering that Georgia had massive problems scoring in the red zone last season (only 22 touchdowns on 44 trips).

* Turnovers will also play a huge role Saturday evening. If Georgia comes in a plays a perfect game- and the Tigers come in and do the same thing, the Dawgs win. Clemson will have to do all the little extras in this one to have a realistic shot at winning. On offense, the Tigers must protect the football at all costs, and on defense, they'll need to force a couple of turnovers. A short drive provided by good field position from the defense for Willie Simmons and company could go a long way towards a Clemson victory.

* Five players to watch:

S Eric Meekins- Everyone in the stadium should see a notable improvement in his coverage and tackling.

TE Ben Hall- As one of the most underrated tight ends in the country, he will have the opportunity to put up some big numbers in this game.

QB Willie Simmons- The offense is in hands, all he needs to do is the get the ball to his playmakers.

DT Nick Eason- Playing in his home state has motivated him beyond belief. Can he be effective against a monster offensive line.

RB Yusef Kelly- Kelly may be the most talented running back to step on the field in the last 10 years for the Tigers. Top Stories