With Boise State's offensive proficiency being among the nation's best, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo knows the onus is on Aaron Murray and company to be clicking right from the opening gun.
"It is. I think we've got to match them, not only in their intensity and how they play, but we need to get them out of their comfort zone a little bit," Bobo said. "Every game you see them play they tend to get on people early and not many people come back. We don't need a slow start against them."
Bobo, as you probably expect, isn't taking the Bronco defense lightly.
As he correctly points out, Boise's defense is a veteran unit, including six seniors who make up the defensive line and linebacker corps.
"They've all played for a number of years so they know how to play, they do their assignments very well, then you look at how they play. You look at their effort, they play extremely low, they know how to use their hands and they run to the ball hard," Bobo said. "Guys that do that usually are pretty good. And they're athletic guys. I don't want to just call them effort guys because they are athletic. No. 92 (Defensive end, Shea McClellan, 6-foot-3, 255) is extremely athletic and No. 40 (defensive end Tyrone Crawford, 6-4, 273) is a big athletic kid and No. 90 (tackle Billy Winn, 6-4, 300) is as good a three-technique as any three-technique in this league."
Head coach Mark Richt says he has the numbers to back it up.
"Defensively, it's just as impressive, if not more impressive, what they've done. Last year they led the nation in sacks and led the nation in red zone defense. They were No. (4) in the nation in total defense and had a few shutouts along the way," Richt said. "The thing that is interesting about this defense, as far as we're concerned, is they are returning just about everybody. They are going to have nine or 10 seniors starting on that defense and one or two juniors starting on that defense, guys who have played a lot of football and played a lot together. "
Georgia's offensive question marks are familiar by now to Bulldog fans.
Although Murray gives Georgia what most consider to be the finest quarterback in the SEC, a thin offensive line, along with youth at running back and receiver offers some cause for concern.
But despite having youth in key positions, there's obviously talent there, beginning with wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and running back Isaiah Crowell, two freshmen who figure to introduce themselves quickly to fans Saturday night.
Crowell is still expected to split time in the Bulldog backfield with Richard Samuel, who continues to nurse the quad injury which has hampered him now for over two weeks. "I think he (Crowell) will be fine. He's worked hard all preseason, he's made great plays, picked up assignments when it comes to blocking and picking up routes," Murray said. "It will be nerve-wracking for all the freshmen who have a chance to play against a huge opponent, but they will be all right."
Bobo said Crowell is ready to go.
"With a running back, it's hold the ball, go right, go left and run," Bobo joked. "It's a little more complicated than that, but he knows his assignments, he knows where to go and he's done a good job with that. What we've got to do is be smart not to put him in situations that he's not ready for and let his God-given ability give him a chance to make the plans that he can do."
As for Mitchell, he'll be part of a rotation that includes Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten and Michael Bennett, receivers who figure to get the first looks from Murray, along with tight ends Orson Charles and Aron White.
Murray won't be shy to pick up yards with his legs if the situation allows.
"If the hole is there and everyone is covered, I'm going to take off. I probably will be a little bit smarter, but I think this year with my knowledge and knowing a little bit more about defenses and the playbook I think there will be less times when I make a misread or hold the ball too long," he said. "I probably will run a little bit less, but I won't be shy and if I have a chance to run I'm going to use it, get as much as I can and get down."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]