NCAA Football

Georgia football prepares to face ‘different’ Mississippi defense


In the run-up to Georgia’s confrontation with the State of Mississippi on Saturday, much has been said about the uniqueness of the attack Georgia must face. While Air Raid is an offensive system that the Red and Black Bulldogs are used to playing against, the Mississippi State scheme on the other side of the ball also offers some new challenges.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart and several players this week spoke about the challenges presented by the Mississippi State defense, which operates on a 3-3-5 system (three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs). Smart has repeatedly emphasized the uniqueness of the scheme run by the Bulldogs maroons and acknowledged that it will be something different for the Georgia offense.

🇧🇷[We] took a day a week bye to work for these guys. Very different. Really different in two ways. Different defensively. Your defensive coordinator [Zach Arnett] does an amazing job. [It’s a] different kind of scheme than we’ve faced before,” Smart said. 🇧🇷They are aggressive, relentless, experienced. They have, like, seven or eight starters back. Disruptive with the way they move and do things. This is different and it stands out. But you better have a good plan, because they can take what you make out of you quickly.”

Mississippi State entered the season with nine starters on defense, with hopes of playing in the SEC West this season. Although the Brown Bulldogs have had a season of ups and downs, their defense has repeatedly put them in a fighting position.

The Bulldogs have a 6-3 record in Saturday’s game, and part of their success can be attributed to a defense that ranks third nationally in several key statistical categories. The state of Mississippi ranks 37th nationally in turnovers created (15), 38th in pass defense (210.2 yards allowed per game), 44th in third-down conversions allowed (35.9% of attempts), and 48th in defense score (24.0 points per game).

Mississippi State Linebackers Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson led team in tackles (78), fellow linebacker Wheat Shot leads the team in tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (5.0) and cornerback Emmanuel Forbes leads in interceptions (5).

Georgia receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint explained that receivers need to run clear routes and make sure they are performing as well as they do every week against this defense. As for the whole attack, he stressed the importance of setting a tone early.

“They do a lot of games up front — a lot of twists, a lot of stunts, stuff like that to try to confuse us,” Rosemy-Jacksaint said. “We know we have to attack them outside the gate and be physical outside the gate because they are trying to be physical with us, so we can’t physically leave.”

While the Mississippi State defense has been quite successful this season, one of its weaknesses has been stopping the race. The Bulldogs are ranked 74th nationally, allowing for 150.6 yards per game, a number that has increased considerably in recent weeks. Mississippi has allowed more than 200 yards in a game four times this season, three of those occurrences in the Bulldogs’ last four games.

Georgia Offensive Guard Warren Ericson credited the defense of the State of Mississippi with being disruptive and well-trained. In his opinion, offensive line discipline will go a long way down the Bulldogs road leaving Starkville with a win.

“They know exactly what they’re going to do, and for us it’s a big challenge because they move a lot and they’re fast while doing it and drilling,” Ericson said. “So we, as the offensive line, have to have our eyes ready. We have to match their intensity and speed.”

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