Miss. State Week: Kendall's look at the game

ATHENS - Josh Kendall takes a look at Georiga's game with Mississippi State.

Georgia (5-2, 2-2 SEC) vs. Mississippi State (2-5, 0-3 SEC)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (TV: None, Radio: 940-AM)

Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)

Tickets: Sold out

Kickoff weather: High of 71, low of 48; sunny; 20 percent chance of rain

Series: Georgia leads 15-5-0

Last meeting: Georgia won 23-10 in Starkville in 2005

Odds: Georgia favored by 18

Injuries: Georgia: Probable: WR A.J. Bryant (groin), WR Michael Moore (knee); Questionable: C Nick Jones (knee); Out: CB Ramarcus Brown (hamstring), OL Chester Adams (ankle), TE Martrez Milner (toe), TB Thomas Brown (knee). Mississippi State: Questionable: OL J.D. Hamilton (knee), RB Derek Ambrose (groin); Out: FB Bryson Davis (knee), WR Omarr Conner (groin), QB Tray Rutland (knee).


Of the many injuries Georgia is dealing with this week, the one to Thomas Brown will have the least effect. Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware will take up the slack fine. In fact, Lumpkin and Ware have been more impressive running the ball this year. Both, though, have had costly fumbles. Mississippi State is led on the ground by freshman Anthony Dixson, but he averages just 3.5 yards per carry. Junior Brandon Thornton is coming on, and averages 4.3 yards per carry.


It looks like Georgia is finally Matthew Stafford's team for good, now, but the rest of the offense needs to do its share to leave Stafford with a good feeling coming out of this season. Georgia's receivers must catch the football, and its thin offensive line must block. Like Georgia, Mississippi State has used three quarterbacks this season. Michael Henig, who was the starter to open the season, is back at the helm after recovering from a broken collarbone. His numbers -- three interceptions versus one touchdown pass, 42 percent completion percentage and 91.52 rating – are unimpressive.


Georgia couldn't ask for a better get well card than Mississippi State's offense, which is ranked 104th in the country in rushing and 105th in scoring. The Bulldogs need to improve their run defense and pass rush, and Mississippi State is 104th in the country in rushing and gives up more sacks than all but one SEC team. As usual, the Starkville Bulldogs have a couple stout defensive linemen and some athletic linebackers. Georgia must keep middle linebacker Quinton Culberson out of Matthew Stafford's face.

Special Teams

The most interesting matchup of the game will come on punts. Georgia's Mikey Henderson averages 18.9 per return, but Mississippi State's Derek Pegues officially leads the SEC with 14.2 yards per kick. Henderson doesn't qualify for the official stats yet because he hasn't participated in a high enough percentage of the Bulldogs' games. Pegues also returns kickoffs for Mississippi State, and he leads the SEC in that category, too, with 27.4 yards per return. Georgia must improve its kickoffs and kickoff coverage greatly to handle Pegues. Last week, Andy Bailey had a kickoff with a 1.9 hang time.


The Bulldogs have hardly been a juggernaut this season when they've been at full strength, and they're not even at full strength. Georgia will have at least three new starters (Kregg Lumpkin, Michael Turner and Tripp Chandler), and possibly as many as five (if the gimpy Nick Jones and A.J. Bryant are replaced), on offense due to injuries. There'll be one new starter on defense (whoever takes cornerback Ramarcus Brown's place). The good news for the Bulldogs is they're facing Mississippi State. Mississippi State return man Derek Pegues is dangerous but not many of his teammates are.

Winner: Georgia

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