For Georgia’s defense, confidence is key

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For Georgia’s defense, confidence is key

Eric Stokes Jr. (27)
Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, Jr. (27)

Going into this Saturday’s matchup, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the main topic of any conversation.

He is the favorite to win this year’s Heisman Trophy Award, and to be honest, he deserves it. Burrow has been putting up incredible numbers this year, and has led the Tigers to finish the regular season 12-0. He has completed 314 of 401 of his passes this season (78 %) for 4,366 yards and 44 touchdowns.

LSU ranks 2nd in total offense this season and has a lot more playmakers than just Burrow. It seems like the narrative is that Georgia is being written off in this game because of their offensive woes this season, and the national media hasn’t really given credit to where it’s due. Which happens to Georgia’s defense.

Georgia’s defense ranks 4th in the nation in total defense and hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game this season. To add their impressive accomplishments, they’ve only allowed one rushing touchdown all season. Also, Georgia currently leads the SEC in scoring defense and is second nationally. The Bulldogs’ defense is only allowing 10.4 points per game while LSU ranks first in the league and second nationally in scoring offense (48.7 points per game). This is going to a matchup for the ages.

It will be up Georgia’s front seven to try and disrupt Burrow in the pocket as much as possible. The Tigers have two wideouts who are dangerous, and Georgia’s great secondary will have to play their best game to shut this duo down.

Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase have combined for 155 of Burrow’s 314 completions. Jefferson has 81 catches for 1,092 yards and 13 scores. Chase has caught 70 passes for 1,457 yards and 17 touchdowns.

For Bulldogs’ senior safety J.R. Reed this will be his last SEC Championship game, and he knows going into this game how much talent the Tigers have.

“He gets a lot of yards after the catch,” said J.R. Reed said when talking Chase. “He catches the ball, makes guys miss, and he also high-points the ball. His catch radius is all over the place. So even when defenders are in good position, he can go up and get the ball. That’s just one of the things that makes him such a great receiver.”

UGA cornerback Eric Stokes (27), Georgia vs. Florida, November 2, 2019
UGA cornerback Eric Stokes (27), Georgia vs. Florida, November 2, 2019

To cornerback Eric Stokes, Georgia has enough talent on the defense and is positive going into the game.

“Of course, as a unit, we believe we can play with the best out there. We believe we have the best defensive back corps out there,” Eric Stokes said. “You’ve always got to have that confidence that you can defend anybody. That’s especially true for DBs. If you don’t have confidence, it’s pretty hard to play.”

Reed also has that attitude.

‘We’re very confident. Confidence is the key when you play DB. Coach Smart and Coach Warren have done a great job over the year to get these guys ready,” Reed said. “We have some things that we can adjust to, and we’re going to run some different things and show those guys some different looks.”

Head coach Kirby Smart has faced offenses like this before and knows what kind of trouble LSU can cause his defense.

“We’re certainly going to prepare as hard as we can, and do the best job we can to prepare for a very talented offense,” Smart said. “You can’t line up in one thing against these guys and expect to be successful, but at the same time, you can’t have confusion and chaos. They feast on that.”

Jefferson and Chase aren’t just LSU’s only threats. Thaddeus Moss and Terrace Marshall Jr. are also potential downfield threats as well as running Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Georgia’s secondary is just as deep as LSU’s wide receiving core. Richard LeCounte, D.J. Daniel, and Tyson Campbell are all individuals who can get the job done.

Up front, Georgia has a plethora of guys that can cause Burrow to make mistakes. Georgia’s defensive line stacks up well against LSU’s O-line. Guys like Azeez Ojulari and Tyler Clark should be able to get into the backfield after Burrow. Ojulari leads the team in sacks and quarterback hurries. Malik Herring is another Bulldogs’ player with a ton of QB hurries.

“I think we match up really good,” Stokes said. “Of course, we’ve got the talent. We’ve just got to make sure we do our assignments and keep watching film like we’ve been doing.”

Here is the video from Eric Stokes interview:

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.