On defense the Bulldogs have seemed to have underperformed this year, but they have as much talent as anyone in that unit and can strike at any time. Here is what we think about this version of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Quarterback Aaron Murray (6-1, 210 Jr.) is the face of Georgia football. He's second in the conference and seventh in the country in pass efficiency. He's throwing for 273.4 yards per game and has 16 touchdowns and five interceptions on the year. He isn't a real threat to run the ball with 58 positive yards, but a net of -30 after being sacked 12 times.
In his third year starting Murray is the key to running the offense knowing the nuances of what coordinator Mike Bobo wants him to do.
Key Stat: 9.64 average yards every time he throws the ball (complete or incomplete) leads the SEC meaning the big play is a big part of the offense and he hits a bunch of them.
Tailback tandem Todd Gurley (6-1, 218, Fr.) and Keith Marshall (5-11, 216, Fr.) have been a force this year. Gurley is sixth in the conference at almost 89 yards rushing per game while Marshall is 12th in the SEC at almost 70 yards per game. In this rookie year Gurley has crossed the 100-yard mark four times already. Marshall has hit the century mark twice.
Gurley is a load and faster than you would think
Key Stat: In the last two games, the pair have have totaled just 76 yards against South Carolina and 70 yards against Kentucky.
Fullback Merritt Hall (5-11, 238, RFr.) has a total of 15 yards of offense so far in his freshman season. A former walk-on, hall earned a scholarship in August of this year for his blocking ability.
The receiver position is deep but a trio of good ones lead the bunch. Tavarres King (6-1, 200, Sr.), Marlon Brown (6-5, 216, Sr.), and Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 192, So.) have amassed 1066 yards and eight touchdowns among them. Brown is the strong sturdy type with size that will go over the middle for the catch, while King and Mitchell are smooth speedy types and always ready for the big play.
King is a veteran that has gotten better every year
Key Stat: The 1066 yards among three receivers is more receiving yards than the entire Gator offense has.
Tight end Arthur Lynch (6-5, 258, Jr.) only has eight catches on the year, but he has 180 yards receiving and is a big play guy averaging 22.8 yards per catch.
Georgia's starting offensive line this season has featured junior Kenarious Gates (6-5, 318) at LT, junior Chris Burnette (6-2, 322 ) at RG, junior Dallas Lee (6-4, 300) at LG, sophomore David Andrews (6-2, 295) at C and freshman John Theus (6-6, 309) at RT. Andrews and Theus made their first career starts versus Buffalo while Gates lined up at LT against the Bulls for the first time after having 12 previous starts at guard. Theus became the first true freshman starter at tackle since Trinton Sturdivant in 2007. In the last two games, sophomore Mark Beard (6-5, 302) has seen some action at LT when Gates has moved to LG.
Key Stats: The Bulldogs are rushing for 205 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry, both very good numbers. They have allowed 12 sacks but throw the ball more than all but four teams in the conference. This is a solid unit, but not spectacular.
Familiar Names: The following is a list of offensive players in the Georgia two-deep that were recruited by the Gators as well. QB Aaron Murray, QB Christian LeMay, TB Todd Gurley, TB Keith Marshall, WR Marlon brown, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Tavarres King, and OL John Theus.
Stopping the DAWGS I think the key matchup in the game is going to be the Florida corners on the talented Georgia receivers. I think this matchup will go to the Gators because as talented as their group is, the entire team only has 16 passing touchdowns on the year, barely over two a game. Florida will man them up and try to shut down the running game first and without a mobile quarterback, I believe it again plays into Florida's hands. As much as Murray is the best player, taking away his options might be the best remedy.
Georgia plays a three man front and will bring a stand up outside linebacker sometimes in pass rush. They have great size in their front personnel with defensive ends Garrison Smith (6-3, 297, Jr.) and Cornelius Washington (6-4, 268, Sr.) along with massive nose guard John Jenkins (6-3, 358, Sr.).
Jenkins is a mammoth man in the middle
Smith takes over for the injured Abry Jones, but at least stat wise has been out playing Jones. Having only started one game, Smith already has 23 tackles in the seven games this season. That is a pretty big number for a defensive lineman with only one start. Washington is a pressure guy and has eight quarterback pressures already this season. Jenkins also has a high number of tackles on the year with 26 and has a very high seven quarterback hurries to add to his stats.
Key Stat: The starting three linemen have a total of one hlf of a sack on the season. So many hurries and only a half-sack, something doesn't add up there.
The Bulldogs will start four linebackers with two on the outside in Chase Vasser (6-3, 231, Jr.) and Jarvis Jones (6-3, 241, Jr.) and two inside with Amarlo Herrera (6-2, 245, So.) and Alec Ogletree (6-3, 232, Jr.). Jones is an All-American and harassed Florida for five sacks a year ago. Georgia will certainly bring linebackers on the pass rush and do it often.
Jones may very well be the best defensive player in the SEC
Hererra, Jones, and Ogletree are all in the top six in tackles on the team. This is a very athletic and fast bunch of linebackers and all with pretty good size as well.
Key Stat: Jones is a stat machine with 36 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 pass break ups, an interception, and a whopping 15 quarterback pressures.
The Bulldog secondary is experienced and starts three seniors. Cornerbacks Sanders Commings (6-2, 216, Sr.) and Damian Swann (5-11, 189, So.) will start and have great size for the position. Strong safety Shawn Williams (6-1, 217, Sr.) and free safety Bacarri Rambo (6-0, 210, Sr.) are play makers and Williams leads the entire team in tackles.
Williams earns his keep at Georgia
Georgia has great depth at cornerback with sophomore Malcolm Mitchell and senior Branden Smith as talented backups who have both started at the position.
Key Stat: The entire team has only five interceptions to date in seven games and the secondary has just three of those, despite a very experienced secondary.
The entire secondary also only has 15 pass break ups. The SEC's individual leader Damarcus Milliner has 15 by himself. Florida has two corners, Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson, that have 18 between them.
Familiar faces: The following is a list of defensive players in the Georgia two-deep that were recruited by the Gators as well. DE garrison Smith, NG john Jenkins, DE Ray Drew, DE Mike Thornton, OLB Jarvis Jones, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OLB T.J. Stripling, ILB Mike Hilliard, ILB Alec Ogletree, CB Malcolm Mitchell, and CB Branden Smith.
Thrashing the Dawgs For all their lack of numbers on pass defense, the main culprit may be their weak rushing defense. The Bulldogs are 10th in the conference in rushing defense and giving up a very sub-standard 4.0 yards per carry. This seems to play right up Florida's alley. Honestly, Georgia has the type of athletes on the edge that can give pass protections fits and Florida would like to avoid that scenario. It appears that Florida needs to just keep attacking on the ground.
SPECIAL TEAMS Punter Collin Barber (6-2, 200, Fr.) is the lowest listed punter in the SEC among punting stats as he continues to get his feet wet in his first year. The Bulldogs are dead last in the conference in net punting as well.
Place kicker Marshall Morgan (6-3, 201, Fr.) is a good one but hasn't had many shots yet making five field goals on six tries so far this season.
Punt returner Rhett McGowan (6-0, 190, Jr.) has a solid 12.2 yard average on returns and has assumed those duties, but the Bulldogs have only returned 17 punts all season long.
Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 192, So.) and Todd Gurley (6-1, 218, Fr.) are their returners. Gurley has returned one for a touchdown this year, but otherwise this is an average unit for the Bulldogs.
Kicking the Dawgs The Bulldogs are 109th in net punting and 110th in defending punt returns nationally. This could be a good sign for Andre Debose who is just on the verge of breaking out this season, or so it seems. It seems as though kick returns are feast or famine with the Bulldogs.