Tigers to Watch: Georgia vs. LSU

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Tigers to Watch: Georgia vs. LSU

Photo: Joe Burrow (9), Louisiana State University Athletics
Photo: Joe Burrow (9), Louisiana State University Athletics

JOE BURROW (QB, #9)

Arguably the leading candidate for the 2019 Heisman Trophy, Burrow has lit up opposing defenses the season-long in LSU’s pass-happy, explosive offense. The 6-4, 216-pound senior transfer from Ohio State, has not only exceeded the 4,000-yards passing mark this season but has also thrown for more than 40 touchdowns. Burrow has completed a sparkling 78 percent of his passing attempts. And when his receivers are covered — which isn’t often — the LSU quarterback takes off running for good gains, making him the Tigers’ second-leading rusher. The Georgia defense well knows of Burrow’s talents since he led the Tigers to a 36-16 win over the Bulldogs in Baton Rouge last season, but it’s a different and more explosive quarterback Georgia will see in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.

JA’MARR CHASE (WR, #1)

And Burrow has two dynamic receivers he likes to get the football to … sophomore Chase and junior Justin Jefferson. The 6-1, 200-pound Chase leads the Tigers in receiving yards with close to 1,300 and touchdown catches (15 entering the Texas A&M game) while averaging 125 yards per game and the 6-3, 192-pound Jefferson (#2), who was LSU’s leading receiver last year, has the most catches and also has topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season, with also double-digit TD receptions. So these two guys can burn an opposing secondary, both with their speed and quickness to get open. The Georgia defensive backs are facing the ultimate challenge Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE (RB, #22)

When Burrow isn’t teaming up with his receivers for big strikes downfield, he’s handing the ball off to Edwards-Helaire, a bowling ball of a running back at 5-8, 209 pounds. The junior from Baton Rouge ripped the Bulldogs for 147 yards last year at Tiger Stadium and is well over 1,000 yards rushing this season while averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Thus, the Georgia defense is not only bracing for a powerful aerial game Saturday but, also, an Edwards-Helaire-led running attack that is pretty good in its own right.

Photo: Jacoby Stevens (3), Louisiana State University Athletics

JACOBY STEVENS (SAF, #3)

Regarded as one of the strongest players on the team, the 6-1, 228-pound Stevens truly brings a punch from his safety position. The junior out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as he entered the final regular-season game against the Aggies, had a team-leading 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 5 sacks, and two interceptions. So Stevens is adept at both stopping the run and defending opposing pass receivers. He’s another guy the Georgia offense must have an answer for Saturday at Mercedes-Benz.

JACOB PHILLIPS (ILB, #6)

The LSU defense has taken somewhat of a backseat to the Tigers’ prolific offense this fall but that side of the ball has its fair share of playmakers as well. The 6-4, 233-pound Phillips is one of those. The junior linebacker out of Nashville, Tennessee is far and away LSU’s leading tackler this season and makes plays all over the field. Moving against A&M this past weekend, Phillips had recorded seven tackles-for-loss and one sack. Keeping Phillips off the Bulldogs’ tailbacks and QB Jake Fromm is a must for Georgia’s O-linemen, that is, if the UGA offense is to run the football and control the clock. 

JOE BRADY (Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach)

Brady, who spent the past two years with the New Orleans Saints, has revitalized the LSU offense this season, shaping that unit into one that has dented the scoreboard to the tune of nearly 50 points per game. An innovator who learned offensive football from some of the best coaches in the game, Brady brought extensive knowledge of the run-pass option (RPO) game to the Tiger staff. He has helped develop Joe Burrow into the top producing quarterback in college football this season and has molded the LSU receiving corps into one of the most explosive units in the land. The Georgia defense knows what it’s about to face Saturday evening; now, question is, what can the Bulldogs do to slow this LSU attack down?

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.