Outback Bowl: conventions challenged

Participants in 2005 Outback Bowl feel connotations of SEC speed and Big Ten strength or overrated

TAMPA, Fla. — The archetype is clear. As a representative of the Southeastern Conference, Georgia ought to be lightning quick and less physical while Wisconsin, as a member of the Big Ten, is expected to be plodding yet overwhelmingly physical.

There are no scientific measures of game speed and toughness but it is quite clear that the stereotypes out to be thrown out the window. Georgia is a very physical team in its own right. The Bulldogs starters actually outweigh the Badgers on average, albeit by a slim margin at all but one personnel grouping. Wisconsin, it should be noted, boasts elite speed at key positions, such as defensive end and cornerback, and has very good overall team speed.

"I think they've got good speed," Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Calloway said. "They've got speed just like everybody else in our league. So I do think [the stereotype] is overrated."

The conventional wisdom, though, does sink in and can become a motivating factor.

"There from up North and they believe they can come in and just overpower us," Georgia tailback Danny Ware said. "We just have to show them that we play power football too."

Georgia's offensive line and tight end average 6-foot-6, 301 pounds, compared to 6-5, 300 for Wisconsin. The Bulldogs also have a one-pound average advantage of the starting defensive front, 6-pound average edge at the offensive skill positions and a 6-pound average advantage at linebacker.

Where Georgia's size stands out, though, is at defensive back, where its starters average 5-11, 203, compared to Wisconsin's 5-10, 186. Particularly imposing is the safety tandem of Thomas Davis (6-1, 230) and Greg Blue (6-2, 215), perhaps the two most physical safeties the Badgers have faced all year.

"We've got two safeties that can come up and thump you too," Georgia defensive end David Pollack said. "They are obviously a vital part of our defense."

Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez has said numerous times how impressed he is with Georgia's size/speed combination.

"I'm impressed with their speed," Alvarez said, referring to the Bulldogs' defense. "Their interior guys are big, physical guys. You don't get a lot of movement on them. They protect their linebackers. You see their linebackers able to run, that is because the defensive line protects them and keeps people off of them. That's a very physical and very athletic and very fast defense."

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