October 2, 2009

Preview: No. 4 LSU at No. 18 UGA

Where: Sanford Stadium

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. TV/Radio: ESPNU (Vern Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)/Georgia Bulldog Radio Network

TV Replay: CSS, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Records: No. 18 Georgia 3-1, 2-0, No. 4 LSU 4-0, 2-0

Head Coaches: Georgia - Mark Richt (85-23, 9th season), LSU - Les Miles (46-11, fifth year; 74-32 overall).

What to Look For

Whichever team comes out on top in Saturday's contest will likely be the team that runs the ball effectively. No kidding, right? Well, neither team has done a very good job to date. LSU has been a bit more impressive, rushing for 130 yards per contest, but is coming of a mere 30-yard effort last week against Mississippi State.

Georgia wasn't much better. The Bulldogs only managed 92 against Arizona State and will need to do much better than that against the Tigers to come away with the victory.

But most importantly, Georgia MUST eliminated the turnovers. The Bulldogs have lost the football 12 times, resulting in 54 points for their opponents and simply cannot keep shooing themselves in the foot if they want to be feeling good about themselves Saturday evening.

Dawgs take aim at another top 10

Georgia is 1-1 versus top 10 teams at home under Richt. In 2002, sixth-ranked Georgia beat 10th-ranked Tennessee 18-13. Last season, eighth-ranked Alabama upset third-ranked Georgia 41-30. The Tigers come to Athens ranked fourth in both the Associated Press Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll. They represent the highest ranked team to play Between the Hedges since 1995 when third-ranked Florida defeated unranked Georgia. The UGA-UF series moved on campus for the 1994-95 seasons due to Gator Bowl renovations.

Green on a roll

Sophomore A.J. Green is building on a successful freshman season and is currently leading the SEC in total receiving yards (428), receiving yards per game (107.0) and rec. per game (6.2). Green snagged eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown versus ASU, giving him four career 100-yard games, and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. He also blocked his first career field goal late in the fourth quarter against the Sun Devils to help secure the win. Against the Razorbacks, he registered 137 yards on seven catches and a career-high two touchdowns. In 2008, Green led the SEC in receiving yardage, yards per game and tied for first in TDs by receivers. He became the first Bulldog to lead the SEC in receiving since Brice Hunter (59 rec., 799 yds., 7 TDs) in 1994.

At split end, senior Mike Moore equaled his career high with six catches versus Arkansas for 91 yards. Five of Moore's catches gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs. Tavarres King started his first game against USC and had his first touchdown catch against Arkansas, a career-long 50 yarder. At tight end, sophomore Aron White (a 21 yarder) and freshman Orson Charles (a 44 yarder) each had a TD catch versus Arkansas.

Injury Update

Richt said that cornerback Brandon Boykin is expected to be ready to play after battling an undisclosed "illness" during practice last week.

Backup cornerback Vance Cuff is also expected back after suffering a minor knee injury against Arkansas.

Linebacker Akeem Dent (hamstring) and defensive end Kiante Tripp (shoulder) are not expected to play.

Looking at the Tigers

LSU remained perfect on the season thanks in part to a goal line stand in Starkville, Miss., last Saturday. LSU stopped MSU three times from inside the 1-yard line as the Tigers held off MSU 30-26. LSU scored on offense, defense and special teams to improve to 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the SEC. Tiger sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson posted a career-best 233 passing yards, completing 15 of 28 pass attempts against MSU. Senior star wideout Brandon LaFell tallied six catches for 101 yards including scoring strikes of 4 and 58 yards from Jefferson this past Saturday. Two-sport star Chad Jones added a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown, the second longest in school history.

Jones, a free safety, won a national championship as a member of the Tigers football team in 2007 and in baseball in 2009. LSU scored its first touchdown courtesy of a 37-yard interception return by sophomore cornerback Patrick Peterson. It was the second time this season that the Tigers recorded a
pick six, the first coming by senior linebacker Jacob Cutrea against Washington. Overall, senior linebacker Perry Riley led all tacklers with 11 stops.

LSU began the year with a 31-23 road win over Washington and then returned home to a pair of easy wins over Vanderbilt (23-9) and Louisiana-Lafayette (31-3). The Tigers latest victory provides them with a 4-0 start for the third consecutive season.

Prediction

Has there been a harder Georgia team in recent years to get a handle on than the Bulldogs' 2009 squad?

Every week, it seems as if it's been something different with the Bulldogs. But still, Georgia comes into Saturday's contest 3-1 and 2-0 in SEC play.

LSU is also unbeaten, overall and in conference play.

Like Georgia, the Bayou Bengals have endured a couple of scares, getting pushed by Washington before eking out last week's win at Mississippi State.

Both teams have obvious rough edges that need ironing out.

LSU needs to get his running game square, while the Bulldogs have a litany of issues that could use some work, most notably cutting down on the penalties and turnovers that continue to keep the squad from reaching its full potential.

One day, you figure it has to happen. Why not Saturday? Prediction - Georgia 24, LSU 21.


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