Ed Orgeron is still processing LSU’s 50-7 blowout win over Texas A&M. He hasn’t had a lot of time to dive into Georgia’s schemes in preparation for Saturday’s SEC championship game.
In the slim amount of game tape Orgeron has watched, one thing has been quickly evident: Georgia’s defense is no joke.
“This is the best defense we've played all year,” Orgeron said in a teleconference on Dec. 1. “It starts with their defensive line. They're very well coached. They're agile. They move. … They do it all.”
The Bulldogs are fourth in the country in total defense and second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 10.4 points per game. Georgia’s opponents average 71 rushing yards per game, and it took 39 quarters and two overtimes before the Bulldogs allowed a rushing touchdown.
Orgeron compared Georgia’s defense to Auburn’s. He said the two were very similar across the board. The Tigers are led by a dominant defensive line. Georgia’s defensive line is suffocating, and constant pressure hinders big plays.
Tyler Clark leads the Bulldogs this season with eight tackles for loss. Throw in 2.5 sacks, and he has now gained the attention of every offensive coach in the Bayou.
“I think Tyler Clark is probably one of the best defensive linemen we've played all year,” Orgeron said.
However, Georgia’s defense isn’t filled with superstars. Instead, it oozes with relentless playmakers. And despite a prolific LSU offense and its Heisman trophy front runner quarterback Joe Burrow, Orgeron doesn’t want to take any chances.
“The thing I'm most impressed about Georgia's defense is how they get all 11 hands to the football,” Orgeron said. “They do a tremendous job of tackling in the open field and hustling to the ball.”
Orgeron’s Burrow-led squad has no problem putting up points. The Tigers average 48.7 points per game, the second-best scoring offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The storybook matchup is already written: LSU’s high-flying offense against Georgia’s stingy defense.
But Georgia head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t care for the pomp and circumstance of categorical rankings — not these, anyway. To Smart, the stage is already set: win and Georgia is in the College Football Playoff. Nothing else matters.
“It really doesn't matter to me where we're ranked defensively, offensively, special teams,” Smart said. “I know that everybody will make a big deal about those two things. … That doesn't make the game any bigger. It's as big as it can be anyway.”