May 28, 2010

Crystal Ball: Louisiana-Lafayette

Hey, it's almost football season!

Well, maybe not quite. There's still two agonizing months of hand wringing and philosophizing before the Bulldogs kick off preseason drills the first week of August.

Until then, Bulldog fans keep asking themselves the same questions: How will Aaron Murray do as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback? Will the players adapt quickly to Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense? Is head coach Mark Richt really on the hot seat if the Bulldogs perform up their annual lofty expectations?

Ultimately, that's the question anxious fans cannot wait to be answered.

Can Georgia really bounce back from last year's disappointing 8-5 campaign?

Being that it's the Dawg Days of summer, UGASports will attempt to answer that ultimate question as we begin a series breaking down the 2010 schedule, analyze each of Georgia's 12 opponents and ultimately how we think the outcomes will be.

First up is Louisiana-Lafayette in the season-opener set for Sept. 4.

The history

Actually, there is none.

Not only will this mark the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Rajin' Cajuns, but it will also mark the first time Louisiana-Lafayette has played a game in the Peach State.

Obviously, this is a contest that the Bulldogs are expected - and should - win quite handily, but that doesn't mean there will be plenty of intrigue.

As mentioned before, the game will mark the debut of quarterback Aaron Murray, who no doubt will be anxious to get his career off to a good start.

So will Grantham's defense. Bulldog fans saw just a small taste of the pressure he hopes to put on opposing offenses this fall, and the season-opener will be the first opportunity to see what Georgia's new DC has in store.

Less we forget, Uga VIII will also be unveiled prior to the game. If that's not a reason to get excited, what is?

Best on-field battle - Louisiana-Lafayette secondary vs. Georgia's WRs

Louisiana Lafayette's secondary picked off 16 passes last year and boast a pair of cornerbacks in junior Dwight Bentley and senior Orkeys Auriene, who combined for 103 tackles and five picks a year ago. Last year, the Rajin' Cajuns used those interceptions to obviously make some key stops, but can they repeat that kind of success against a Georgia receiver corps that features one of the nation's best wideouts in A.J. Green? Green is 100 percent healthy and will be anxious to help Murray get off to a quick start. Whatever chance Louisiana-Lafayette has, limiting Green's catches will be an obvious must-do.

How we see it

Dasher's take: For all those who complained (and in hindsight, rightfully so), this year's opener against the Rajin' Cajuns should be right up your alley. Granted, Louisiana-Lafayette is one of the Sun Belt's better teams, and unlike Georgia features a veteran quarterback in Chris Masson, who threw for 2,406 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 265 yards and six scores. His mobility could initially make things interesting for the Bulldog defense, but ultimately it's going to be a case of too much talent wearing Red and Black. Prediction - Georgia 28, Louisiana-Lafayette 7.

Nabulsi's take: Predicted Line: Georgia minus 18.

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