October 8, 2009

Bobo has bigger concerns than Kiffin

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he's got enough to worry about than to concern himself with the fact that he'll be matching wits against Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose reputation as one of the top defensive minds in the NFL preceded him long before ever joined his son Lane in Knoxville.

After impressive showings against South Carolina and Arkansas, the Bulldogs have scuffled against Arizona State and LSU and on paper would seem to have their work cut out against a Kiffin-coached defense which held mighty Florida to 323 total yards.

"I think if you look at this team, and obviously I don't study a lot of pro tape, but just watching that team they simply line up, play hard, and are very good at taking the ball away and they're going to hit you," Bobo said. "They do a lot of different stuff, but the main thing is that they play hard. That's the trademark they take at Tennessee. They run to the ball and they're going to hit you; that's the sign of a great defense."

But just because the elder Kiffin will be standing on the opposite sideline, Bobo said he can't afford to be caught up with that.

"He's going to call certain things, but we've just got to go out and execute," Bobo said. "For us as coaches, we've got to get guys to believe in what we're doing, go out and execute it, make first downs and hopefully, touchdowns."

To do that, Bobo said the Bulldog offense needs to stop eliminating some of the silly mistakes, not just the penalties but the missed assignments which he believes has been at the core of the inconsistencies.

That includes the offensive line.

"To be a dominant group, everything has to be working together and everyone has to be on the same page and we haven't had that," said Bobo. "We need to start too soon."

Georgia's offensive issues have been discussed at length.

The Bulldogs rank eighth in the SEC in scoring offense (27.2 points per game), last in rushing offense (98.8 yards per game) and 10th in total offense (340.6 yards per contest).

On the flipside, Kiffin's defense ranks in the top five of the SEC in both total defense (278.2 ypg) and rushing defense (114.4 ypg).

Quarterback Joe Cox it's no secret that's the area of Saturday's game where the Bulldogs will need to find some success.

"Last week we got stuck in third and long and if we want to run on first and second down it's going to be important to make third down manageable," Cox said. "We were not able to do that in the first half against LSU. We started doing it in the second half so I don't think it's necessarily a problem it's just something we need to focus on and get right."

Cox acknowledged that the Vols (2-3, 0-2) will be doing all they can to make life hard for running backs Richard Samuel and Washaun Ealey, who are expected to get the bulk of the carries with Caleb King expected to miss the game with his broken jaw.

"They definitely look to stop the run first. They like to bring down the safety (Eric Berry) into the box and have that extra run support. Basically, they're just saying 'we're going to make you beat us throwing the ball,'" Cox said. "That's going to make it tough because we want to have a balanced game plan. But we're still going to have to find ways to open up some holes for the run game against all those looks because we still have to be effective on the ground."

Bobo has his fingers crossed.

Ealey was able to give the Bulldogs a spark in the second half against LSU when he came in and picked up 33 yards on eight carries after both King and Samuel failed to generate any significant amount of rushing yardage.

While King's injury has certainly assured Ealey of getting considerable playing time against the Vols, Bobo said the freshman was already going to get another shot.

"He was going to play a big part whether Caleb was ready or not," Bobo said. "He played well and he's practiced well, along with Richard and Carlton (Thomas). It's been real competitive; the guys are hungry and want the ball. That's a good sign."


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