Game Preview: Georgia vs. Boise State

ATHENS - Getting ready for Georgia's game with Boise State.

Anticipated opener against Boise State could set tone for entire season

Georgia coach Mark Richt is aware of the importance of Saturday's season opener against Boise State.

"This is a game most everybody in the county is going to see," Richt said. "It means a lot to our program and fan base across the country, and the world.

2011 Game One

WHAT: Boise State vs. Georgia
WHERE: The Georgia Dome (71,228) - Atlanta, GA
WHEN: Saturday, September 3 (8 PM)
SPREAD: Boise State -3

"It means a lot to recruits who are hearing about Georgia. It means a lot to the voters who will hopefully get a chance to see us play and see something they like, and keep us in the middle of this top 25."

The Bulldogs will open the season at the Georgia Dome against the No. 5 Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Classic, where a sea of red is expected. The nationally-televised game in Atlanta, less than a two-hour drive from Georgia's campus, could set the tone for the rest of the season.

A win would erase the disappointment of a 6-7 season in 2010. A loss could keep Richt on the hot seat heading into the following week's SEC opener against South Carolina.

"It's extreme motivation to hear people say that Coach Richt might be on the hot seat," Georgia defensive end Abry Jones said.

Georgia will be facing its highest-ranked opponent to open the season since 1965. That season, the Bulldogs upset No. 5 Alabama 18-17.

Richt is aware of the challenge the Bulldogs will face on Saturday. Boise State averaged 45.1 points per game last season, while holding opponents to 12.8 ppg.

"They play with a different type of attitude, which you can see on the film," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "Like they belong and they're here to kick butt. That's how they play."


CB Brandon Boykin has dared Boise State to kick to him. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

--CB/KR Brandon Boykin has issued a challenge to Boise State coach Chris Petersen via Twitter. Boykin tweeted "Dear Coach Petersen. I DARE you to kick to me. Sincerely, Me and my Dawgs." Boykin has four career kickoff returns for TDs. "It created a buzz and got the fans excited," Boykin said. "I didn't say anything disrespectful, I don't feel like. So if they didn't like it, I mean, whatever. Me and my teammates and the coaches are excited and feel like we've got to come out and be confident and have that swagger in order for us to be successful against a team like Boise."

--Georgia QB Aaron Murray has been impressed with the maturity and work habits of true freshman RB Isaiah Crowell. "There are tons of guys who came in with all this hype that are, quote-unquote, busts," Murray said. "But the way Isaiah has been working and studying his plays and everything, he looks great right now. I know it's different when you get in there and there are TV cameras and 70-to-90,000 people yelling. But as of right now, everybody on the team is excited about seeing what he can do."

SERIES HISTORY: Georgia leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2005, Georgia 48-13).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Georgia has enough playmakers to have success in a pro-style offense. But the key will be up front, where LT Cordy Glenn and C Ben Jones will anchor a revamped offensive line. The offensive line struggled to open holes for the running game last season and will need to be more consistent in that area in 2011. Georgia is hoping that WR Tavarres King will emerge as a deep threat this season.

Todd Grantham's defense has found a NG this season. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Georgia's defense is getting more comfortable in the 3-4 in its second season under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The Bulldogs return seven starters from last season's defense, which held opponents to 22.1 points per game while forcing 26 turnovers. Georgia believes it has finally found its true nose guard in 6-foot-6, 350-pound Kwame Geathers. That's allowed DeAngelo Tyson to shift from nose tackle to his more natural defensive end position. Georgia will need to improve on third-down defense after allowing opponents to convert 42 percent on third downs last season. That ranked 79th in the country.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To play in a game of this magnitude is only going to be a positive for this team down the road." -- Georgia coach Mark Richt on facing Boise State to open the season


THIS WEEK'S GAME: Boise State vs. Georgia, Sept. 3 -- Georgia will play its opener on Saturday night in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Classic, less than a two-hour drive from campus. The nationally-televised game between the two top-25 ranked teams (Boise State is No. 5 and Georgia is No. 19) will give the Bulldogs a chance to show the country they are back after a disappointing 6-7 season.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Georgia will need to make Boise State senior QB Kellen Moore uncomfortable in the pocket. Moore is at his best when he has time to throw, as evidenced by his 3,845 yards passing and 35 TDs last season. On offense, look for Georgia to try to establish the run to keep Boise State's high-powered offense off the field. That would set up QB Aaron Murray for some play-action opportunities to take occasional shots downfield.


OLB Jarvis Jones will make his debut Saturday night. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

QB Aaron Murray -- Murray is coming off an exceptional freshman season in which he passed for 3,049 yards with 24 TDs and eight interceptions. But he won't have A.J. Green to throw to anymore after Green left for the NFL as an underclassman. How quickly Murray can create chemistry with his new receivers could determine how well Georgia fares in 2011.

TE Orson Charles -- Charles could emerge as Murray's top target in 2011. A preseason All-America first-team tight end, Charles has the combination of size (6-3, 241 pounds), speed and hands to become an impact player. He is coming off a season in which he caught 26 passes for 422 yards and two TDs.

OLB Jarvis Jones -- A transfer from USC, the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Jones has big shoes to fill. He'll be replacing Justin Houston, who led the SEC in sacks last season. Georgia coaches are hopeful that Jones can emerge into a similar kind of pass-rushing threat from the edge.

PK Blair Walsh -- If the game is tight late, it could hinge on the leg of Walsh, who has been money throughout his career. The senior has made 40 of his last 45 field-goal attempts and is 22 for 29 from beyond 40 yards in his career.


--RB Richard Samuel was limited in practice with a quad injury. Samuel remains the projected starter for the Boise State game, but freshman RB Isaiah Crowell worked with the first-team offense in Monday's practice.

--CB Branden Smith sat out practice Monday with a foot injury. Smith jogged after practice and insists he will be ready for Boise State. "I'll be out there Saturday ready to play," Smith said.

--Georgia coach Mark Richt would not address rumors that SS Bacarri Rambo has been suspended for the Boise State game. Richt said on Saturday that Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams are currently his first-team safeties. Rambo started 13 games at strong safety last season

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