I was chatting casually with a Georgia fan the other day, and they asked what my take was on the game—did I feel Georgia, with its young defense, would be able to withstand the juggernaut that is Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers? While I always hesitate to make predictions where Georgia is concerned (I like to wait until after the first series of a game before I make anything close to an estimation on how the team will play), I do like the Dawg’s chances—a lot.
As much props as I’m willing to give to Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and Dabo Swinney, I cannot help but wonder if they’ve fixed all of their run-stopping woes from last season’s defense. For all the talent in the Clemson front seven last year, they did not defend the run well; yes, a great deal of that had to do with youth and inexperience, but are they ready to go to battle against an offensive line unit with the size, agility, and experience of Georgia’s? Forget what Aaron Murray can do, what about Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall—the two players whom I feel are the ultimate x-factor in this game? Can Clemson’s front contain them both for 60 minutes?
Everyone wants to harp on questions in the Georgia secondary, but if the Dawgs can get their ground game going early, it’s going to be tough for Boyd and Co. to put points on the board; and, honestly, I’m curious to see how dynamic their offense will be minus Andre Ellington in the backfield; surely his absence will be significant in a game where offensive weaponry seems to be taking center stage. No offense to Roderick McDowell or D.J. Howard, but neither is an Andre Ellington.
I suspect the game will be a nail-biter early, with both teams feeling each other out, but in the end it will come down to whether the defensive line of Clemson can win the battle, in the trenches, for four quarters, against the Georgia offensive line. If they can, they will certainly take this one down to the wire, but something tells me that keeping the lid on both No. 3 and No. 4 will be a tall order for their defense.
What say you?