Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State vs. Georgia Bulldogs
A look at the Outback Bowl opponent…
The Bulldogs of Georgia are well coached with a blue collar worth ethic. They stand at 10-3 (the same as MSU) and are coming of a loss in the SEC championship game. They played in their conference championship yet they got leap frogged by someone who didn’t and took the BCS bid.
Georgia and MSU may have different styles in some phases of the game, but they are mirror copies of each other in the tangible ways that matter. These programs and more importantly coaches are well known and respected for doing things the right way.
When MSU has the ball…
The Bulldogs run a 3-4 front defense that loves to attack. The Bulldogs DL outweighs the MSU DL and OL by nearly 30 pounds per player. They are big, have surprising speed and are strong.
They know that MSU wants to run the ball. They are concerned about Cousins and the MSU aerial attack. They will let MSU run the ball. They aren’t concerned about MSU beating them there. They will drop men into coverage and dare MSU to beat them with the run. They feel confident that they can stay in a base defense, drop extra men into coverage and still not allow MSU to beat them with the run.
This is the most talented defense MSU has faced. For MSU to win this game they are going to have to attack Georgia through the air. I realize that I have just told you they are afraid of that and that they will put extra men in pass coverage to avoid that. After watching every Georgia game this season on tape, I am not convinced MSU can beat them rushing the ball.
If they have to come out of their base to go to dime package defense to stop MSU then the Spartans can run the ball. MSU has to be balanced, but that balance starts with passing the ball so they can run.
MSU OC Dan Roushar addressed the question about their defense and style. He said, “As I look at them, they’re ranked third in the country nationally as a total defense. They are very, very good against the run, and when you become one‑dimensional, they can get after the quarterback. I think they’re second or third in the Southeast Conference with I believe 34 sacks or something like that, so they present a lot of problems.”
When MSU is on defense…
The Bulldogs have a monster OL and they are not as good as Wisconsin on the offensive side of the ball. I feel much more comfortable with this side of the ball. Georgia sees Jerel Worthy as less of a threat.
The All American (Worthy) is a great player, but on film he does take plays off and every game has injury breaks. They are going to take the game right at him. With MSU already down in numbers on the DL they are going to come right at him. They are not convinced that Worthy can play four quarters at a high level.
They will also mix up the cadence because Worthy has had great success this year when QB’s don’t change their cadence and he can jump the snap. They will only get into a cadence that stays the same when they are setting Worthy up. They plan to mix it up to get penalties and then run the ball right at him.
They have great respect for the MSU secondary and pass rush. MSU will not get the sacks that they have against other teams this season because Georgia is a fast release team that runs a no huddle attack.
Here is how DC Pat Narduzzi described them when I asked, “The thing that sticks out to me most is they really get the ball out quick. First we thought it was three‑step. It’s a real quick five passing game, so they don’t really give you a chance to get much pressure on them, so we’re going to have to be very careful with pressure because they’ll beat you with the ball.”
Georgia will not allow themselves to get into sack situations. It is a quick read and go. They will try to win this game by going right at Worthy. With pass rush being impotent with the quick release great coverage and a conditioned Jerel Worthy are the keys. That doesn’t mean they won’t pass, they simply won’t try to live by it.
Bobby Knight once talked about championship teams and great teams. He talked about their ability to play all opponents at a certain level. They don’t get too high or to low. They blow out the weak opponents; they play well against the good. They are steady.
Georgia is averaging over 30 points per game. I have no concerns MSU can hold them to less than that. I also think MSU can score, but not at the level they are used to. Unfortunately the Bulldog offense may not be as good as Wisconsin, but their defense is much better.
Since October first nearly every game has been an emotional high. MSU was jacked for the Big Ten Championship game and had their hearts ripped out before their eyes. As late as last week players were still talking about, “Getting over it.” That one hurt bad.
If MSU had NOT played in the B1G Championship game I would have picked them to win this game.
They did play in the championship and I hearken back to Bobby Knight. This is a great MSU team. Being around them I continually see and hear the residual hangover from all of those weeks being jacked up emotionally and the fall and pain of the championship game loss.
I want to pick this game with my heart. In all of my years covering MSU I have NEVER done that. I have always set aside the fan in me and tried to give you the best analysis. I want to be wrong.
Mark Dantonio addressed the emotion when he said recently, “I think the way things fell, it was important we had our banquet the day after that championship game so we could get rid of some of that feeling, we could mourn a little bit, we could move through that time of disappointment.” Mark Dantonio is not one to waste or mince words. His use of the term mourn truly sums up how this program took the loss to Wisconsin in the B1G championship game.
MSU will give a great fight, but I think Georgia wins this game 27-24. Still what a great season this will be. A team and program that is moving by leaps and bounds, but a program that is spent emotionally. They will have left it all on the field and that is exactly what every fan has a right to expect. Again I hope I am wrong.