What kind of play caller will John Lilly be?
Georgia's offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo took the head coaching job at Colorado State last week, so John Lilly will be calling plays for the Bulldogs for the bowl game. Lilly is a veteran coach with an impressive list of former tight ends that he has coached. However, as far as I can tell, he's never been a play caller. The initial thought is to think that this is bad news for Georgia and great for Louisville. In reality, it just means that Louisville won't have a feel for what to expect from a situational standpoint. Todd Grantham will have a tendency chart in his hands to help him call defensive sets and he really won't know if he can trust it until the game gets through the first few drives.
Lilly has coached with Mark Richt for years so you can expect him to know what type of game Richt wants to be called. That should help Grantham prepare his defense a bit. Grantham will be familiar with the basic philosophy Richt expects from his offensive staff. Richt has had a balanced offense for the majority of the time that he's been at Georgia. This is the first year since 2011 that his team has averaged more than 40 runs per game. Hutson Mason doesn't have the numbers to make anyone think that he can take over a game with his arm but it's tough to know if that's by design. When you have a running game that averages 6.10 yards per carry you really don't have to go out there and fling the ball around. Grantham could come out and have Lilly's number because of his familiarity with the coaches and what they typically want. Lilly could also come out with all of the out of the ordinary stuff that was in the back of the playbook. We'll have to wait and see.
GEORGIA HAS NO CLUE WHAT TO EXPECT FROM UOFL'S QUARTERBACKS
Prepping for the opposing quarterback is obviously one of the most important thing a defense does going into a game. Learning what receiver they tend to look for in certain situations? How does he react to pressure from different angles? Will he adjust if he sees blitz? Can he be baited into throwing into coverage? Does the coach trust him to run the full playbook? What is his timing like with his receivers? The list really goes on forever. What are the odds that Jeremy Pruitt can confidently answer any of those questions about Kyle Bolin? Even Reggie Bonnafon has been up and down to the point that you don't really know how he will perform as a passer. Georgia's defensive staff has had over four weeks to prepare for two quarterbacks that they really don't know much about.
Some of the Georgia defensive players made it known that facing a mobile quarterback is much more dangerous than a pocket passer. We as Louisville fans know this firsthand. What Reggie might lack in passing polish, he makes up for in the ability to expand the playbook. Georgia has been beaten by teams this year that absolutely pounded the football against them. Florida and their putrid offense had two running backs nearly hit 200 yards against them. Florida also threw SIX PASSES the whole game. Can Louisville do the same? I doubt it. But Louisville can help their defense stay rested if they're able to run the ball efficiently. Reggie helps the running game by adding a wrinkle.
Kyle Bolin did some things in the UK game that still have me smiling. The main thing that stood out was Bolin's ability to read the defense before the snap and know that his first read would be open. He also spread the ball around so well and got everyone involved in the pass game. Will Gardner and Bonnafon both had issues with staring down receivers as well as looking at the pass rush. Bolin excelled in an area that they struggled in. When he stepped to the line he read what he saw from a very simple defense and he knew what he should be doing with the ball immediately. When he dropped back he used his eyes to manipulate the coverage and when he delivered the ball he was extremely accurate. It was impossible not to be impressed with him. But, it was an extremely small sample size against a terrible defense. If he can do it again against a defense stacked with multiple NFL players we will likely be seeing the quarterback for the future.
GEORGIA'S PASS RUSH WITHOUT LEONARD FLOYD
The best thing about this season for me personally is being able to watch unbelievably talented football players. Leonard Floyd is one of many I've watched this year. Floyd is an outside linebacker that does a great job of making plays behind the line of scrimmage. He's tremendous off the edge and he is absolutely great at pursuing plays. He also won't be playing in the bowl game because of an injury. There's not a whole lot of video out there of the UGA-UK game but from what I've been able to find it looks like the defense changes a lot without Floyd, and not just from a production standpoint.
With Floyd in the lineup Georgia uses OLB Jordan Jenkins as a supplemental defensive end. He doesn't put his hand on the ground but he does line up either over the left tackle or over the inside shoulder of the tackle. Without Floyd Jenkins plays a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker role. The defense as a whole adjusts because of this. Floyd and super talented freshmen Lorenzo Carter would line up on the same side at times. They also made it impossible for an offense to be able to focus on one side in terms of protection. The loss of a guy that does such a good job at the things that Louisville struggles to stop could be huge.
YARDS AFTER CONTACT FROM THE RUNNING BACKS
I don't really make predictions going into games, but I really think that both of these teams will try to control this game with the running game. Both teams have defenses that can win them games. Both teams have questionable quarterback play. And both teams have running backs that might be able to run through a brick wall. Nick Chubb and Brandon Radcliff are the types of running backs I like to watch. Two guys that run relentlessly and refuse to be taken down by the first guy.
Chubb is a huge back at 230 pounds and he is as muscular as it gets. Chubb is great at flat out running through guys. He doesn't lose speed when he breaks a tackle. That allows him to get a lot of chunk yardage. He's going to run through the first guy six yards down the field and the next thing you know he's already into your secondary. He's not the fastest guy on the field but his ability to make cuts at full speed and not have to "bounce" off of tackles really sets him a part from other big backs. Louisville has been downright bad at stopping edge runs in the second half of the season but they have had no trouble with stopping guys in between the tackles. Nick Chubb will challenge that fact as he is arguably the best running back Louisville will face this year.
Louisville hasn't had a running back quite like Radcliff since Bilal Powell was toting the ball in Charlie Strong's first year. Powell ran much bigger than his size and Radcliff does the same. When Radcliff got here he was every bit as talented as he is now but he wasn't the total package. He worked relentlessly on his body and became a freak in the weight room. Because of that he's become unbelievable at making guys bounce off of him. While Chubb has the girth to make it hard to wrap him up, Radcliff has outstanding balance and strength that just seems to make guys just slide right off of him. Radcliff hasn't found the running room at the second level to allow him to get a lot of big runs but against a defense like Georgia that likes to bring a lot of guys close to the line, he might find the space needed to get a big one.