Battered and bruised

Mark Richt's last trip to Tiger Stadium in 2003 gave him a memory that has stuck in his mind ever since. The Bulldogs had just scored on a 93-yard catch and run from David Greene to Tyson Browning that tied the game at 10-10 with 4:25 left on the clock.

The play would have silenced many crowds as the Bulldogs regained the momentum, but instead it left an impression that has stuck with Richt for five long years.

 

“Usually when the opposing team does well the crowd quiets down,” Richt said. “All I began to hear was a chant L-S-U, L-S-U.  It got louder and louder and louder. It was the loudest I've ever heard a stadium."

 

It got much louder though when minutes later Matt Mauck found Skyler Green in the back of the endzone on a busted route from 34 yards out to give the Tigers a 17-10 victory.

 

This LSU team, however, looks a little different than the 2003 club that went on to win the BCS National Championship.

 

The ’03 team had a quarterback that was mature beyond his experience in Mauck, compared to a redshirt freshman in Jarrett Lee, who will make his fourth collegiate start on Saturday.

 

Aside from that, though, the storylines remain the same as both teams are looking to make it to Atlanta to win another conference championship. LSU is going for its fourth crown of the decade whereas Georgia is aiming to tie the Tigers with three.

 

Georgia is known for its red jerseys, but the Dawgs have more red than they would like with a bunch of those shirts sporting a big red cross due to all of the injuries.

 

This is a must win for both teams as LSU sits at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the league, while Georgia is 6-1 and 3-1 in the conference.

 

The Tigers need a win to stay within a game of Alabama in the Western Division, assuming of course that the Crimson Tide handles Tennessee this weekend.

 

A win on Saturday and LSU controls its own destiny. A loss puts the Crimson Tide in the driver’s seat regardless of what happens on Nov. 8 because Alabama wraps up the season at home against Mississippi State and an Auburn team that is on a downward spiral.

 

Georgia, on the other hand, could be sitting pretty if the Dawgs take care of business on Saturday and then a week later in Jacksonville against Florida. The only thing that would stand in their path to the Georgia Dome are two road tests against Kentucky and Auburn.

 

 

A Look at Georgia’s Offense

 

Georgia comes in as the SEC’s leader in total offense (429.6) and passing offense (260.1).

 

Matthew Stafford is a future first round draft pick and will be the best passing quarterback that LSU will face outside of a possible bowl matchup. He leads the league at 242.4 yards a game and is 124-of-203 for 1,697 yards with 10 scores and five picks.

 

LSU must get pressure on Stafford or he will pick the secondary apart and the Tigers should be able to with the battered and bruised offensive line that protects him.

 

Richt has had eight different linemen start this season and the Bulldogs are on their third starting left tackle in less than three months since camp opened in August. Three freshmen and two sophomores are scheduled to start against LSU which should put a big smile on the faces of Tyson Jackson and company.

 

The rushing attack (169.4) has been solid despite the problems up front led by one of the SEC’s top running backs in Knowshon Moreno.

 

Moreno (128-762-11) leads the league in rushing touchdowns and averages 6 yards a pop. He is a great cut-back runner with good vision and will be LSU’s stiffest challenge to date.

 

Moreno’s lowest output of the season was 34 yards against Alabama, but he never got on track due to Georgia being down so much and so early.

 

The biggest matchup problem for LSU is going to be on the outside with Georgia’s receivers against the Tigers’ corners.

 

A.J. Green (6-4, 190) and Mohamed Massaquoi (6-2, 198) both have the ability to hurt a defense with the homerun ball and both are solid with the crossing routes, slants, curls, and outs. 

 

Green (36-573-4) is Stafford’s go-to guy and the true freshman leads the conference at 81.9 yards a contest, while Massaquoi has 25 catches for 350 yards and four touchdowns.

 

LSU has struggled at covering the tight ends the last couple of weeks, but the Tigers will catch a break as Georgia is down to two battered tight ends in Bruce Figgins and Tripp Chandler.

 

Figgins, who is still recovering from a torn labrum and opted to not have season-ending surgery, has not caught a pass all year, while Chandler (3-43) is listed as questionable for Saturday.

 

 

A Look at Georgia’s Defense

 

Willie Martinez’s defense is eighth in the SEC, giving up 17.7 points a game which is one spot higher than the Tigers. The Bulldogs are third in total defense (269.7), led by its run defense which is tops in the conference, allowing only 61 yards a game.

 

Georgia limited the league’s top rushing attack, Alabama, to 129 yards which is 80 below its average.

 

More impressive is the fact that in three consecutive games, Georgia held South Carolina and Arizona State to 18 and 4 yards on the ground, respectively, then gave up 1 yard net rushing to Tennessee.

 

Injuries have plagued the Bulldogs depth-wise on this side of the ball too, but not nearly as bas as on offense.

 

Martinez likes to bring the heat and will surely blitz Jarrett Lee often, forcing the young quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly. Lee has a tendency to lock onto a receiver and you can bet that Martinez will have his guys following Lee’s eyes and ready to jump on routes.

 

Amazingly, Georgia has 118 quarterback hurries but only 13 sacks on the year, compared to LSU’s 28 hurries and 15 sacks.

 

The secondary has had difficulty stopping the opposition and Georgia has forced only one more turnover (8) than LSU has on the year.

 

 

A Look at Georgia’s Special Teams

 

 

Blair Walsh has been steady all year, nailing 11-of-15 field goals with two of his four misses from 56 and 54 yards out.

 

The punting has also been very good with Brian Mimbs (42.5), and the Dawgs have a good kick return man in Ramarcus Brown (16-399) and a guy who can break a long one if he has some space in punt returner Asher Allen (5-91).

 

 

Intangibles

 

With home field advantage combined with all of the injuries plaguing this Georgia team everything sets up well for LSU.

 

Of course, Georgia has something to prove after being snubbed, at least in their eyes, by the BCS last season, but LSU has something to prove as well.

 

The Tigers know that every game is big going forward and a win will put them in great position to be 7-1 for that pivotal showdown on Nov. 8.

 

 

Our Call

 

The key is going to be putting pressure on Stafford. If the Tigers get the same kind of pressure they got against Stephen Garcia last week then LSU should win.

 

The linemen do not have to worry about Stafford running like they did with Garcia because he’s only going to run if he sees a lot of real estate. He does not want to get hit too much and you can bet that Richt has shown him the vicious licks that Harry Coleman dishes out.

 

Moreno is going to get his yards and LSU needs to worry about simply containing him rather than stopping him.

 

If LSU can get Charles Scott on track against the Dawg “D” and have Keiland Williams running strong then the Tigers will be tough to beat.

 

Georgia is going to send the house after Jarrett Lee and if he doesn’t throw the ball to the other team more than once LSU will win.

 

Can Lee lead the Tigers to victory after being down in the second half for a third time this year? We think so and we feel that he will have to.

 

LSU 23, Georgia 17


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