Georgia's quest to get back in the winning column following its dismal 14-9 home loss to South Carolina on Sept. 8 begins Saturday (The Bulldogs' Sept. 15 game versus Houston was rescheduled for Dec. 7 due to the national terrorists attacks.) Coach
Mark Richt's squad will host Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas, beginning at 6:30 p.m. "Between The Hedges" of Sanford Stadium. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN2.
The teams have played six times, each winning three games. Georgia routed the Razorbacks 38-7 last year at Arkansas. It marked the first home loss in seventeen games for the Razorbacks, who play their home games in their on-campus stadium in Fayetteville and at Little Rock's Memorial Stadium.
A win will give Georgia (1-1) a chance to re-enter Top 25 polls, which they fell from after the South Carolina loss. The Bulldogs were ranked number 23 following their season-opening 45-17 win over Arkansas State.
Arkansas posts a 1-2 record, rallying in the final two minutes to beat upstart UNLV 14-10, before losing 13-3 to Tennessee and 31-10 at Alabama last week.
Keys to a Bulldog victory over Arkansas include:
· Georgia's defense needs to keep pressure on the Arkansas offense.
Arkansas has a poor offense, having scored only two touchdowns in three games. The Razorbacks are last in the SEC in both passing and rushing. They rank 112th in the nation in rushing, averaging just 50 yards per game, and have been outrushed 557-150. They are 115th in the nation in total offense. To compound their problems, the Razorbacks may be without star running back Cedric Cobbs and will probably be without quarterback Ryan Sorahan, both of whom are injured. Last year's starting signal-caller, Robby Hampton, will miss the season after undergoing major shoulder surgery. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt will likely start sophomore Zak Clark against Georgia, although true freshman Tarvaris Jackson will also see action.
The Bulldogs' defense should have a GATA day against Arkansas' offense-that is a get after their you-know-what day.
· Georgia must not underestimate Arkansas.
Granted, the Razorbacks have struggled offensively. However, the Arkansas defense has registered some impressive numbers. The Hogs rank fourth nationally against the pass (103 yards per game) and are 27th in the nation in rushing defense (288.7 yards per game). They have allowed just four offensive touchdowns in three games. Let's not forget that Arkansas led Tennessee in a driving rainstorm for almost 50 minutes. If the Bulldogs look past Arkansas, they could suffer very well be upset against an inferior team.
· Bulldog lines must have a good game.
Expect both Georgia and Arkansas to stack their defenses with nine players in the box and play man coverage, daring the other to throw the ball. Georgia's offensive front must give quarterback David Greene ample time to pass and its defensive interior must effectively limit Arkansas running backs Brandon Holmes and Fred Talley.
· Georgia must pass the ball well.
Georgia needs to consistently move the ball through the air to build Greene's confidence and take pressure off him. A successful passing game will also open up the Georgia running game. The key player for Georgia could be wide receiver Terrence Edwards. If he has a big game catching the ball, it will likely be a long evening for the Razorbacks.
· Georgia needs to establish dominance early.
The Bulldogs have the better team and they need to make that evident in the first quarter. If they have a 14-17 point halftime lead, they should rout Arkansas. Georgia practically gave away the South Carolina game, and this is a must win for the Bulldogs. It could mean the difference in a winning or losing season. Georgia can ill-afford to go to Tennessee next week with a 1-2 record.
PREDICTION-All things considered, Georgia should beat Arkansas, and handily if the Bulldogs play well. You've probably heard of a "Dog Eat Dog World." It will be a "Dog Eat Hog World" this Saturday. GEORGIA 34, ARKANSAS 16.
Tim can be reached at tim@DawgPost.com