Jarvis Jones didn’t enjoy playing in the last two games.
For a player that has 10.5 sacks on the season, it was nearly impossible for Jones to get to the quarterback against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
The reason? The triple-option offense.
The Eagles and Yellow Jackets both run an offense, which consists of a heavy dose of undetermined running plays and few passes.
Jones prefers a pro-style offense, which Georgia will see in the Southeastern Conference championship game against Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday.
“I like games like this. It’s football, they’re ain't no trickery in it," Jones said. "[Alabama] gonna line up and it’s going to be grown football and hit you in the mouth. When you start playing teams like Georgia Tech, they gonna try and hide the ball from you, you gotta find the ball and stuff like that.“
In the previous two games, Jones racked up 15 tackles and two and a half tackles for losses.
But it wasn’t games like these that earned Jones the title of an American Football Association FBS All-American, which he was awarded on Wednesday.
No, it was the Bulldogs’ big games this season that grabbed the attention of coaches around the nation — Missouri and Florida.
“Well that [big games] has helped him the most,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “He has played really big in the Missouri game, as far as a monster-stat game. Then the Florida game was really almost a whole season in one game as far as statistics go.”
Going into the Missouri game, people around the nation believed the Tigers could make some noise in the SEC in their inaugural season, and much hype surrounded the Bulldogs’ matchup.
Jones answered with some excitement of his own.
The junior outside linebacker racked up nine tackles, two for losses, two sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles, on route to being named SEC defensive player of the week.
Jones one-upped his performance against Georgia’s next big opponent, which decided who would be traveling to Atlanta for the championship game — Florida.
In Jacksonville, Jones accumulated 13 tackles, four for losses, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles, with his last coming on Georgia’s goal line in the final minutes of the game to seal a 17-9 Bulldog victory.
With the Bulldogs’ biggest game of the year on Saturday, one that will determine who will play No. 1 Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, Bulldog fans are hopeful that Jones can put up the numbers he has in Georgia’s previous prime-time matchups.
And like he said, it is a game he likes to play.
“We just gonna line up and hit each other in the mouth,” Jones said.
Marshall Morgan and Colin Barber in the dome
Richt isn’t going to allow his players to get acclimated to the Georgia Dome’s turf before Saturday’s championship game.
That doesn't include his kicking specialists, however.
“I’m going to talk to Brad Hutchinson, our director of football operations about the possibility of our specialists getting in there a little early,” Richt said. “I think that is one thing that would be worth doing. I don’t think it would be worth it to try and go in there and run routes and throw the ball around and all that because we just don’t do that on Friday anyway.”
In a game that features two prolific defenses, the SEC Championship game could come down to special teams, and possibly a last-second field goal.
With a freshmen kicker and punter — Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber — Richt isn't worried about his specialist struggling with the big-game pressure.
“I think both our kicker and punter have improved as the game has gone on, gaining more confidence,” he said. “I think they’re over the big eyes and being nervous and that kind of thing.”
Richt explained that as long as his specialists block out the pressure and focus on their fundamentals, they should fair well, especially Morgan.
“I think if he focuses on his fundamentals and can block everything out, which is what outstanding kickers do, I don’t think you have to be a junior or senior in college to do that,” Richt said. “I think you can do it as a freshman, you can do that in high school of you’re disciplined enough to.”
Offensive line questions heading into Saturday
The Georgia offensive line knew it was a question mark heading into the season.
And after the South Carolina game, those questions didn't wither.
The Bulldog’s offensive line got torched by Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecock defensive line, allowing two sacks while gaining only 3.2 yards per carry.
However, Richt doesn’t expect another debacle of a game from him line come Saturday.
“I don’t really remember what happened in the South Carolina game, but I know we had some edge issues,” he said. “I think everybody has had trouble with Jadeveon Clowney don’t you? And I forget that other cat, No. 98, that big tall joker, Taylor. I think everyone has had trouble with those guys. We’re probably a little better at blocking than we were then.”
Richt knows that his team is up against a tall task in the Crimson Tide defense, who averages two and a half sacks per game and only 77 yards on the ground per game.
Yet, he believes his team knows what they are up against, and is up for the challenge.
“I think they’re going to know what to do and they’re going to play really hard,” Richt said.
Defensive back Damian Swann (cervical strain) and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (left shoulder contusion) were in green non-contact jerseys in Wednesday’s practice, but are expected to play Saturday. Joining those two in the injury report are redshirt sophomore Mike Thornton (right ankle sprain) and redshirt freshman Wright Gazaway (left shoulder contusion).