Scouting Georgia: How The Tigers Win
1. Don't turn it over: Everyone is expecting the Tigers and Bulldogs will pick up where they left off in the 1977-87 era - a peak for both programs. Most of those games (the teams split 5-5-1 over 11 seasons) were decided in large part by who took better care of the football. Both Clemson and Georgia will put the ball at risk on Saturday - running the ball into the teeth of the other's defense and throwing it all over the yard. With both teams capable of ringing up points on the scoreboard, ball security mistakes are not likely to go unpunished.
2. No busts: The Tigers' young secondary will be tested early and often by the Bulldogs. Clemson can't afford to give up big plays the way it too often did too often last season. Dabo Swinney's said the majority of last season's big-play lapses occurred pre-snap, via mis-alignment. The Tigers need to be sound and solid in back, and the defensive front needs to minimize the secondary's exposure by keeping Bulldogs' quarterback Aaron Murray under pressure.
3. Specialization: Every point will count in this one, and the Tigers should have an advantage in the person of senior placekicker Chandler Catanzaro. In its heyday, the Clemson-Clemson series was defined by field goals, made and missed. The Tigers will move the ball against Georgia's defense, and vice-versa. Whoever cashes in for red zone points will give themselves a leg up. The Tigers will be looking for special teams improvement in the kick coverage as well.
4. Keep the chains moving: It will be strength against strength when it comes to keeping drives alive by converting third-down chances. Clemson ranked fifth nationally last season with a 51.5 third-down conversion rate, while Georgia was 17th at 47.5 percent. On fourth down, Clemson led the nation at 77.78 percent (14-of-18). Look for Chad Morris and Company will test the Dogs' defensive patience by playing four-down football.