Heisman Snatchers

Heisman Snatchers

ATLANTA, Ga.–Han Vance on Georgia football: The story last year at this time for Georgia’s opponent is eerily – for both LSU and Georgia – similar to the current situation, regarding the guy in the pocket for the Bayou Bengals Saturday at 4:00 p.m., for the SECCG in Atlanta. Joe Burrow is hitting on an SEC record pace, with two thousand-yard receivers and a thousand-yard back, unheard of touchdowns and a silly 78% completion percentage. Kirby has a knack for derailing hot quarterbacks, of late at UGA.

Tua was coming in looking unstoppable, too. He looked like a lock for the Heisman Trophy last year; it went back to OU instead. Georgia was nationally, and locally around Atlanta, not considered to have a chance to slow down the Tide’s passing attack, with its prolific passer standing virtually untouched through long stretches of games and a plethora of targets running open down lanes of fields, all year. They had gone away from the offensive strategies that had given them ultimate success in the SEC West, the SEC and beyond.

Just as LSU has. I think they’ll struggle to run on Georgia, much at all, and it will come down to pass defense. Georgia’s secondary will be at test, and is up to the challenge.

For Georgia it’s eery in that we found a way to lose the game. For LSU, they could come to Atlanta and get busted up, mostly held in check and therefore ultimately beaten.

Throwing it all around the yard doesn’t always work out, and they’d have perhaps the worst defense in the history of the sport if they are to this year be national champs. They yielded: 38 to Texas, 38 to Vandy, 37 to Ole Miss, 41 to a Bama playing below full strength and 28 to Florida (at home).

Georgia should be able to score in the 20s and looks to hold LSU to about half their average.

Their offense is explosive, obviously. 48 points a game. They haven’t faced a defense like ours.

As the stellar Georgia safeties Reed and LeCounte showed in a tightly managed defensive coverage scheme in last year’s SECCG, after I had said publicly that the Dawgs, led by Rodney Garner and Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann and others, had to hit Tua and even possibly hurt him. Not wishing injury upon anybody, of course, but that is the honest reality of the defensive mindset when you are facing a lights-out passer: You have to cover, you have to tackle, you’d like to get to the QB and hit him, knock his butt out. Same story this year, there, here in Atlanta.

That strategy worked in building a huge lead in last year’s SECCG. Could the same be in store for the 2019 Heisman frontrunner? Georgia is better on defense, way better this year.

If (12-0) LSU gets in an unfamiliar type of game, big stage and away from home, and more low-scoring as has only happened to them at all once this season – a mid-year 23-20 edging of three-loss Auburn on the bayou – I don’t think they are, in real game experience, prepared for that. I like the SECCG experience of Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift, and Kirby Smart. Georgia has been in control in tight games all year, lost once. And, I like that Georgia held him to 50% passing at LSU last year, and that we still sting from that road defeat. All other things equal, Georgia would have made the CFP if we had won at Tiger Stadium last season.

We gave up scores this season of just: 6, 17, 0, 17, 20 (double overtime loss), 0, 17, 0, 14, 13, 7 …we do basically the same thing week in and week out. Look at these game scores: Georgia 21-14 Auburn (their only home loss); Georgia 24-17 Florida (Top 10 team); Georgia 23-17 Notre Dame (a 10-2 team)…that’s how we have played every ranked team.

I have UGA 27-24. Kirby and Lanning will have a good plan for LSU’s offense.

If Georgia wins, I have our beloved Dawgs projected to be the #3 and playing #2 Clemson in the desert at the Fiesta Bowl. A meeting of rivals, old and future. Clemson-Georgia will be epic.

Winning three modern league championships and 3-4 in the SECCG, Georgia has only been the favorite once.

If Georgia were to lose they would probably be headed back to the sUGAr Bowl, or the CFP Committee could send them to the Orange Bowl in Miami and switch Florida for the game in NOLA; both are equal NY6 bowls. To Georgia’s advantage, LSU is projected to make the CFP without having to win the game. They’d be a 4, probably, playing top-ranked Ohio State in the Peach, back in ATL with another chance.

We could fairly easily see them twice. To their finale advantage this season, the national championship game is played in NOLA. I see the 4 like this: 1. Ohio State 2. Clemson 3. GEORGIA, 4. LSU, although I would personally select a Utah or Big-12 champ over the SEC runner-up.

We want to win it all still, y’all. Beat LSU in ATL; beat Clemson in PHX: get probably, my call, Justin Fields and the Ohio State Buckeyes, be underdogs in New Orleans, with a shot at lasting glory.