Buffalo offense vs. Georgia Defense
When you have a weapon like running back Branden Oliver, you have no choice but to use it. Expect the Bulls to get their star running back involved early and often with quick hitters in the run game and attempts to get Oliver in space. We noted earlier this week that Oliver is a solid receiver out of the back field, so expect Buffalo to use Oliver's receiving skills to slow down the pass rush and keep the Georgia linebackers guessing. If they have early success, they will most likely try to get the wide receivers involved with a controlled passing attack. Safe, short passes will be abundant and quarterback Alex Zordich could have a lot of success moving the chains if he is put in some third and short situations. Attempts down the field will be limited due to the lack of game breaking speed down the field and Buffalo's concern for the Georgia pass rush.
Buffalo defense vs. the Georgia offense
The Bulls can't afford to let Georgia get a run game going, so expect them to play an aggressive brand of football up front. Defensive coordinator Lou Tepper is known for bringing cap control run blitzes, and that is what Buffalo will most likely do. If the Bulls can slow down the Georgia running attack, they will limit big plays in the play action passing game and force the Bulldogs to adjust the game plan. At that point, Buffalo will have won a battle. If they can't slow down the Georgia rushing attack, it could be a very long day for Tepper's group as the Bulldogs will be in second and third and short all game long and can stretch the field with use of play action.
Georgia offense vs. Buffalo defense
If the Georgia coaching staff takes a look at the Bulls, they see an undersized front, and a group of big linebackers with limited athleticism. If the Bulls employ a three man front early, expect Georgia to try and exploit natural bubbles in the Buffalo front with isolation and power plays to get running backs Ken Malcome, Keith Marshall, and Todd Gurley involved. The goal will be to wear down the front seven and establish the run so that runs on the perimeter and play action passes can be employed. Don't expect anything elaborate or creative in the run game because Georgia should be able to have plenty of success on offense due to talent alone. Keeping it vanilla and sticking to a simple, execution-based game plan is something Georgia almost always does to an extent anyway, but in this game it will be especially important because it will give the offensive staff to evaluate the early strengths and weaknesses of the offensive line.
Georgia defense vs. Buffalo offense
The Bulldogs know that Oliver is the Bulls' chief weapon, and the logical plan is to come in prepared to stop the talented runner. Georgia was very good against the run a year ago, and there is no reason to believe they won't be able to at least slow down Oliver in this one. Expect a great deal of cap control football based on reading assignments and down hill play from the linebackers. Abry Jones, John Jenkins, Garrison Smith, Ray Drew, Kwame Geathers, and Cornelius Washington will be the keys in this game as they will be asked to control the line of scrimmage and let the linebackers run free to contain Oliver. The key is to not get too aggressive when Buffalo is in long yardage situations. Being overly aggressive in such scenarios might open the Bulldogs up to screens, draws, and trip plays that could result in big chunks of yardage for the offense. Like the Georgia offense, don't expect the defense to employ anything new. They might add a blitz or two to force Missouri to prepare for it next week, but the safe bet here is to use the Buffalo game as a teaching tool to help experienced and inexperienced defenders finely tune their abilities before traveling to Columbia next weekend.
Georgia should win this one and should win it big. If this game were later in the season, one might expect Georgia to come out slow and struggle early, but the first game of the year is often a chance for players to hit someone other than their own teammates. Expect the Bulldogs to come out fast and aggressive, and control the flow of the game in the first half. The game should be well in hand by the start of the third quarter, and the second and third team units will get some early action in 2012. Final Score: UGA 48 - Buffalo 10
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