Dan Scott: Georgia - Clemson Prediction
When Clemson Has The Ball...
The question here is how much time will the Tigers spend in the I-formation? Given that Clemson's strength is its wide receivers, and Georgia's secondary is decimated by injury and suspension, the logical thing to do would seem to be attacking that secondary consistently with the likes of Kevin Youngblood, Airese Currie, Derrick Hamilton and, yes, Roscoe Crosby. Of course, Clemson must account for the pass rushing ability of defensive tackle David Pollack. Same goes for the running game, where the Tigers' offensive line must fine a way to neutralize the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Talented but unproven linebackers are a worry for Georgia, as well. Keep Pollack out of the backfield and you've got a chance.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
When Georgia Has The Ball
A brand new offensive line is all that stands between Georgia quarterbacks and an expected resurgent Clemson pass rush from defensive ends J.J. Howard and Khalid Vaughn. Give David Greene time to find his weapons, such as wide receiver Fred Gibson, and it could be a long night for the Tigers even with a talent at cornerback like Justin Miller. He can only cover one receiver at a time. Another key battle comes inside, where defensive tackles Donnell Washington and DeJuan Polk, among others, need to provide a push to free up linebackers John Leake and Leroy Hill to make plays. Uncertainty at running back for Georgia, coupled with the rebuilt offensive line, could be offset by the fact that Clemson has seven new starters on this side of the ball. The Tigers hope to tread water here.
ADVANTAGE - Even
Not until Clemson proves it can successfully cover punts and kicks will the vote go anywhere but to the opposition.
ADVANTAGE - Georgia
Tommy Bowden has said and done all the right things this offseason. Now we watch and see how much it paid off. Mark Richt's only losses away from Athens have come on a neutral field. Technically, he's undefeated on the road.
ADVANTAGE - Georgia
Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of quiet enthusiasm come out of Clemson's camp, and with it has come a few reasons to believe the Tigers can win today's game in Death Valley. But, I'll take a conservative approach to the season-opener. I want to see improvement in several areas before picking a Clemson upset of such a highly ranked opponent. Although....nah, I just can't. Not yet.
Georgia 27, Clemson 24