Friday, September 18, 2009
Georgia at Arkansas Preview and Prediction: Saturday September 19
Georgia Bulldogs @ Arkansas Razorbacks
Saturday 7:45 PM Fayetteville, AR ESPN
Line: ARK -1 (open +1)
An early season SEC matchup that could go a long way to determining the middle of the pack in the SEC as Georgia travels to Arkansas. The Razorbacks have had a week off after destroying Missouri State in the opener. Meanwhile, UGA is going for their second SEC win after a thrilling victory over South Carolina last week. This will be the Bulldogs third tough game in as many weeks with a opening loss to Oklahoma State on the road the week before last.
UGA is 8-3 against Arkansas all time with the last win coming in 2005 23-20. QB DJ Shockley got hurt in the game in Athens as the Razorbacks easily covered the 19 point spread.
Keys To The Game:
1. Pass Rush
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is 6'7" 248 lbs and a classic drop back passer...and not very mobile. But if given time he has the arm to beat you all over the field. The Razorbacks line gave up 46 sacks last year so they have to protect the Michigan transfer better than than they did their QBs a year ago.
UGA has trouble getting to the QB without blitzing. They do get one of their best pass rushers back this week in Justin Houston. Stephen Garcia scrambled easily last week and was 31-53 on pass attempts for South Carolina.
Georgia starting QB Cox is not very mobile either and has not shown great pocket awareness in his two starts this year. Arkansas' defense managed 23 sacks last year.
2. Kicking Game
Both teams have shown big play ability on kick returns. UGA's Brandon Boykin had a 100 yard return leading the way to 252 yards in kick returns last week. Arkansas started the season with a 91 yard return from Dennis Johnson on his way to 115 return yards.
Georgia may have an advantage in their FG department with Blair Walsh who hit a 42 yarder and 50 yarder last week in addition to a couple of touch backs. Arkansas' Alex Tejada's long in his last 13 games is 30 yards.
3. Offensive Balance
It is a big misnomer about Bobby Petrino that he likes to throw the ball all over the field. In the first game, Arkansas had 30 rushes and 30 passes. The Arkansas coach likes to use the run to set up the pass with the run. It would be tempting to go deep on UGA's pass defense after watching the Gamecocks go for over 300 yards plus through the air, but the Hogs need to stay balanced.
On the other side, UGA needs to stick with the run and establish a ground game to open up the passing game. Otherwise, Arkansas is going to make Cox beat them with his arm. OC Mike Bobo has a tendency to go away from the run even when it is working well. This Arkansas offense is very explosive and the Bulldogs need to chew some clock to pull the upset.
-Arkansas had a week after their opening win and Petrino has stated his team spent considerable time in the preseason preparing for this game
-ARK is 5-2 in last 7 ATS
-Petrino is 22-6 as a head coach with more than one week to prepare
-UGA is 2-8 ATS in last 10
-UGA is 24-4 in conference road games under Mark Richt;
-UGA is on a five game SEC road winning streak
-UGA is 7-2 ATS as a road dog under Richt
Arkansas had more total offense in one game than Georgia has in two, but the Bulldogs have played one of the toughest schedules in the country thus far. Even after being out gained last week, UGA won the kicking game and special teams handily and they should have an advantage here again this week.
I like UGA on the road in the SEC where they are on a five game winning streak and 24-4 under Richt. I think RB Richard Samuel has a better game this week (4.3 ypc last week) and Cox does just enough to keep the Hogs defense off balance. This one comes down to the fourth quarter, but UGA's defense again comes up with a big play late.
Georgia 28 Arkansas 24
Georgia Covers +1
Last Week: 1-1 ATS 2-0 SU
Season: 2-3 ATS, 3-2 SU