Texas A&M Week: Game Preview

SHREVEPORT, LA – ATHENS -Dawg Post's look at Georgia's game with Texas A&M.

Georgia (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (6-6)
Where: Shreveport, LA)
When: 5 p.m., ESPN2)
Last meeting: Georgia 42, Texas A&M 0, Sept. 13, 1980)

Georgia: It has been a rollercoaster year for the Bulldogs' offense, with some big highs (vs. Arkansas and Georgia Tech) and some dizzying lows (Tennessee, LSU). But there are three big pieces of good news for Georgia in this matchup: First, the running game has been on fire, including 339 yards on the ground against Tech in its last game. Second, A.J. Green returns from an injury that cost him the last two games of the year. And third, A&M's defense should provide some opportunity for big plays.

Texas A&M: There aren't many more dynamic offenses in the country. The Aggies finished first in the Big 12 in total offense and fifth nationally. They're led by versatile quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who will provide a huge challenge for the Bulldogs. Johnson is dangerous with his arm, having thrown for more than 3,200 yards and adding 28 TDs to just six INTs. He supplements that with quick feet, having run for 455 yards and eight more touchdowns.

EDGE: Texas A&M


Georgia: It's been anything but business as usual for the Bulldogs' defense this month as two graduate assistants and line coach Rodney Garner have been forced to handle the load after three defensive coaches were fired by Mark Richt. But the players have responded well, Richt said, and Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Prince Miller and others are all playing in their final game, which should be enough to boost the energy level.

Texas A&M: While A&M's offense has scored nearly at will, the defense has made things almost as easy for the opposition. The Aggies rank last in the Big 12 in total defense (107th nationally) and passing defense (111th nationally) and are allowing nearly 33 points per game. The Aggies' best defensive playmaker, defensive end Von Miller, does present a challenge for the Bulldogs, however, as he leads the nation in sacks with 17.

EDGE: Georgia

Special teams:

Georgia: There have been a few mishaps on special teams for Georgia this year, but overall there have been more spectacular efforts. Brandon Boykin has two kickoff returns for touchdowns, Blair Walsh was a finalist for the Groza Award and punter Drew Butler earned All-America honors.

Texas A&M: The kicking game has been a major problem for the Aggies throughout the year. A&M ranks 92nd nationally in net punting, averaging just 33.87 yards per punt this season. Place-kicker Randy Bullock has connected on just 12-of-18 field goal tries this year, and has missed at least one kick in four straight games.

EDGE: Georgia


Georgia: Normally this would be a big edge for the Bulldogs, and Mark Richt's bowl history (6-2 in eight games) would be more than enough to make Aggies fans nervous. But this year, Georgia is without three defensive coaches, and two graduate assistants with little experience are taking their place. The shakeups could be enough to spark the defense, but it's also possible that the young GAs could be a bit overmatched in their first real taste of action.

Texas A&M: Mike Sherman has done a nice job of infusing the Aggies with young talent this season and A&M has responded with a solid year. Still, the Aggies' defense is a problem and the kicking game has struggled. Whether Sherman and his staff have remedied some of those issues during the long break since their last game will go far in determining the outcome against Georgia.

EDGE: Texas A&M

Key matchups

Offense: Left tackle Clint Boling vs. defensive end Von Miller. With 17 sacks, Miller is among the most ferocious pass rushers in the country, using his impressive speed to dart around blockers. But Boling has been exceptional this season, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will try to help him out by running the football and staying out of third-and-long situations.

Defense: Georgia's safeties vs. Jerrod Johnson. The Bulldogs have been burned by mobile quarterbacks in the past, and Johnson is a particularly versatile player. Whether Georgia keeps a safety in to spy on Johnson remains to be seen, but the job of containing the dangerous QB will fall on everyone on the defense keeping their assignments and making tackles.

Prediction: Texas A&M 31, Georgia 30

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