Georgia football: why Georgia will have an easier time stopping Snell

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Benny Snell Jr. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Benny Snell Jr. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

Georgia football plays Kentucky this week in a de facto SEC East Championship Game. The winner is guaranteed a spot in Atlanta.

It’s no secret that Georgia football has struggled against the run in 2018. Florida, Missouri, LSU each had a ton of success on the ground. So by those stats, Kentucky, who has the SEC best running back in Benny Snell, should have a great game on the ground against the Dawgs.

But there’s one trait all of those teams have in common with each other that Kentucky does not possess; a solid passing game. At his best, Missouri’s Drew Lock is the best quarterback in the SEC. He’s already heralded as a 2019 first round draft pick. Florida’s Feleipe Franks is much improved from last year and is beginning to live up to his expectations. LSU’s Joe Burrow is also a top-notch SEC passer.

Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson is not among them. He may have a great passing percentage, but he’s thrown only 153 passes all year. He doesn’t take care of the ball, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, and he averages just 6.5 yards per attempt.

Teams have rushing success against Georgia when they force Georgia to respect the quarterback. That’s why Vanderbilt had some success against Georgia on the ground, Kyle Shurmur is a really good quarterback. Not great, but he’s definetely in the top half of SEC quarterbacks.

Because of our lack of a big, powerful, experienced interior to occupy blockers this year, Georgia’s linebackers and safeties are having to respect the pass a lot more this year. The loss of John Atkins and Trenton Thompson have really shown this year. Much more than the loss of Roquan Smith in my opinion. A four-man rush isn’t as effective as it was last year. Georgia only has 10 sacks in 2018 so far. Half of those sacks coming from D’Andre Walker.

But against a quarterback and a group of receivers that aren’t a big threat this week, Georgia’s defense can focus on the run a lot more. J.R. Reed won’t have to play as far back. The Wildcats only have one great receiver, Lynn Bowden Jr., and if Georgia’s 2018 season has taught us one thing, it’s that a teams best receiver can’t beat Deandre Baker.

Deebo Samuel, Marquez Callaway, and Van Jefferson, all team leading receivers who had their worst games of the season facing Baker. Bowden will need a spectacular performance just to make a dent in Georgia’s pass defense. Only three other targets have at least 10 catches. C.J. Conrad has 18, but he only has 126 yards. David Bouvier has 155 yards, on just eight catches though. Georgia’s defensive backfield should lock them down.

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Tennessee’s offense had no success on the ground because Georgia didn’t have to worry about the pass as much. Same with South Carolina. Both teams rushed for under 70 yards against Georgia. Because Benny Snell is a great running back, he’ll probably break 100 yards, but Kentucky’s lack of a consistent passing game will ultimately lead to Kentucky being one dimensional and the game will fall right into Georgia’s hands.