When an SEC team prepares for a bowl game, it is generally quite an ordeal. As the Georgia Bulldogs prepare for tonight’s bowl game, they are not accustomed to seeing a Conference USA opponent across the field. “When you’re 6-6 and you’re in a bowl, you’re kind of hoping you’re going to play another 6-6 team,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said recently. “But we got into the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and we get to play a conference champion and that’s exciting for our guys. We get a chance to prove to the country that we’re still a pretty darn good football team.” Central Florida is not a team to be overlooked as the reside within the top 25. Meanwhile, Georgia is still licking its wounds as whispers questioning Mark Richt’s job security growing louder . The game may prove more interesting than many anticipate based on face value.
3 Keys from the scouts
1. Fresh meat. Both teams will trot freshman quarterbacks out on the field, and both will rely heavily on the playmaking abilty of each. UCF’s Jeff Godfrey and UGA’s Aaron Murray have proven throughout the season they can respond to the expectations. Godfrey is a dynamic dual threat. He has completed over 68 percent of his passes and has more than doubled his touchdown to interception ratio (13/6). The Knights’ signal caller has also rushed for 546 yards this season. Murray is a traditional pocket passer who has quadrupled his touchdown to interception ratio (24/6). The key may come down to which of these two players make the least amount of mistakes.
2. Balance. Central Florida’s offense is as balanced as one will find. The difference in yards per game on the ground versus the run is miniscule (0.7 yard per game difference). Meanwhile, Georgia has become a predominant passing team this season. UCF is already one of the best teams against the run in the nation, and it will make the Dawgs even more one-dimensional. Luckily, Georgia has uber-talent A.J. Green breaking through opposing secondaries. The Knights will use its balance to keep Georgia on its heals, while the Knights’ defense should be able to pin its ears back as soon as they get off the bus.
3. Crazed dogs. Two of the best in the business will be chasing the aforementioned quarterbacks all afternoon. Geogia’s Justin Houston has first round ability. He plays the edge in Todd Grantham’s 34 (a unit which has struggled this season). Central Florida’s Bruce Miller has continually put up numbers in the system but gets overlooked. He is undersized, but his 27 career sacks speak for themselves. Miller may received the attention, but his bookend, Darius Nall, actually leads the team in sacks.
Bold Predictions: Earlier predictions may have been bold, but they have been lacking in accuracy. None may be bolder than Central Florida squeeking past Georgia, despite the talent advantage the Bulldogs clearly possess. Currently, the Knights are a better overall team and have played as such. Georgia has yet to put it together this season. This may be the nail in the coffin for Richt if UCF can pull a stunning upset. Central Florida 24, Georgia 21.
Pro Prospect Preview
|FA||Jah Reid||T||76||5Sr||Large, powerful lineman who blocks with terrific fundamentals. Strong side prospect.|
|FA||Bruce Miller||OLB||49||5Sr||College defensive end who flashes ability in space. Projects to outside linebacker yet built more like an inside ‘backer.|
|FA||Lawrence Young||OLB||57||4Sr||Fluid, fast linebacker that shows ability in pursuit. Slow to react and poor instincts.|
|FA||Derrick Hallman||OLB||38||4Sr||Quick, explosive linebacker fast in every direction of the field. Inefficient and takes too many steps to the action.|
|1st||A.J. Green||WR||8||3Jr||Explosive game breaker with all the skills necessary to be a number one receiver on the NFL level. Will enter the draft despite recent comments to the contrary.|
|3rd||Cordy Glenn||G||71||3Jr||Big, powerful wide bodied blocker that overwhelms opponents, removing them from the action. 50/50 as to whether or not he enters the draft|
|3rd||Justin Houston||DE||42||4Jr||Good athlete with great upside. Fires off the snap, fast off the edge and effective making plays from the backside. Projects to outside linebacker but looks lost the times he’s asked to play in space.|
|5-6||Brandon Boykin||CB||2||3Jr||Solid cover corner with good ball skills.|
|4th||Trinton Sturdivant||T||77||4Jr||Physically talented lineman that’s had an up and down career. Offers NFL size but must improve his balance and complete his game.|
|4th||Clint Boling||T||60||4Sr||Workman like college tackle that projects as a back-up in the NFL.|
|5-6||Shaun Chapas||FB||49||4Sr||Terrific lead blocker with nice vision and strength. Works hard in all aspects but a bit one dimensional.|
|6-7||Akeem Dent||ILB||51||5Sr||Big, strong, run stuffer who struggles in space.|
|6-7||Justin Anderson||G||79||4Jr||Big, strong blocker that easily turns defenders from the action|
|7th||Cornelius Washington||DE||83||3So||Undersized yet explosive pass rusher that gets a tremendous amount of momentum going up the field.|
|FA||Josh Davis||T||78||4Sr||Strong lineman with good size. Easily turns defenders from the action or anchors in pass protection. Has struggled with injuries as of late.|
|FA||Fred Munzenmaier||FB||48||5Sr||Underrated lead blocker that can play at the next level. Strong and plays with a nasty attitude.|
|FA||Demarcus Dobbs||DE||58||4Sr||Mechanically sound defensive lineman who lines up at defensive end or stands up over tackle. Shows the ability to makes plays in every direction and fast.|
|FA||Darryl Gamble||OLB||50||4Sr||Good athlete who covers a large amount of area on the field, making plays sideline-to-sideline. Effective in pursuit and also in coverage. Underrated and a solid prospect.|
Game Preview: Brent Sobleski
Prospect Preview: Tony Pauline