Five keys for a Bulldog victory
by Jeff Dantzler
photo by Rob Saye
1. Dictate with the Run – Todd Gurley is the best tailback in the country. There are a lot of outstanding backs out there, but none are better than the freshman sensation. He was brilliant in the Bulldogs win over Florida, and Georgia’s MVP in the heart-breaking loss to Alabama. He’s fast, strong, shifty, powerful and pushes everything forward. Keith Marshall is a speedster of a counter puncher and Ken Malcome has power. Wisconsin ran for 500 yards in a rout of Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game. If Georgia is patient and sticks to the ground, the Bulldogs should be able to gash the Cornhuskers front.
2. Slow Down the Huskers Run – With the exception of the ill-fated Bill Callahan era, Nebraska has always been an outstanding running team. The Cornhuskers have it again this year, especially when bruising tailback Rex Burkhead is healthy. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is a two-way threat and the Huskers will run some option at Georgia. The Bulldogs have given up right at 1,000 yards on the ground the last three games. Alabama cut through the Georgia defense on the ground. The team with the better run defense has a huge edge in Orlando.
3. Pressure Martinez – Nebraska is a running team. The Cornhuskers quarterback is a big part of that. Georgia’s defense will have to pressure him on straight keeps and the option. When Nebraska does throw it, Georgia’s defensive front must put heat on Martinez. He can come up with the big play, but like any quarterback, is shaky when the heat is on. He’s one of those quarterbacks that can be more dangerous when a play breaks down. When the pressure comes, Georgia’s ends need to keep him in the pocket. That’s where the negative plays come from. Putting Nebraska behind the chains puts Georgia in turnover opportunistic downs.
4. Big Plays on Limited Throws – Georgia sets the tone with the running game when the Bulldogs are at their best. The extra benefit is what that sets up off of play action. Nebraska’s defense has had some tough days, especially in the Big Ten Championship Game. When Gurley is rolling, that sets up Aaron Murray to hit Malcolm Mitchell and co. for big chunks of yardage without having to put the ball in the air too much. Even without Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown, Georgia’s receiving corps will be the best one the Cornhuskers have faced this season.
5. Bring the Fire – Georgia’s last two bowl performances have been lackluster. The Bulldogs lost 10-6 to Central Florida in Memphis, then last year in Tampa, blew a 16-0 lead and lost in overtime to Michigan State. Nebraska is a storied program and that has helped to generate some excitement, even on the heels of arguably the most heart-breaking loss in Georgia lore. A victory over Nebraska would stamp a 12-2 season and a final national ranking somewhere in the top six or seven. This Georgia team nearly played for the national title. A team of this caliber needs to finish in excellent fashion.