Sunday, January 1, 2012
Outback Bowl: Keys for Georgia
By Chris Low
A look at three keys to the game for Georgia in its Outback Bowl matchup with Michigan State on Monday:
1. No special teams breakdowns: These are two evenly matched teams, so the last thing Georgia can afford to do is get wasted in the kicking game. It’s been a recurring problem for the Bulldogs, who’ve given up five special teams touchdowns this season. They’ve also had a punt blocked, and place-kicker Blair Walsh has missed 12 field goals this season. At the very least, they need to play to a draw in special teams.
2. Crank up Crowell: Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell says the left ankle injury that plagued him at the end of the regular season has healed and that he’s ready to go. Michigan State’s run defense is nasty. The Spartans are ranked No. 12 nationally against the run and are allowing just 104.3 yards per game. Crowell needs to soften up that run ‘D’ with some big gainers to open up things for QB Aaron Murray and the Georgia passing game.
3. Hit the Spartans early: Michigan State has had great success under Mark Dantonio, but he's lost four straight bowl games at the school, including last season’s 49-7 debacle to Alabama. If Georgia can strike quickly and build an early lead, there could be a “here we go again mentality” that grips the Spartans.