- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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The SEC has always been known for defense, but through the early part of this season, the stats would say otherwise. Whether it was the shootout between Georgia and South Carolina or the one down in College Station between Alabama and Texas A&M, there have been more points scored across the league.
“Maybe there is a little more balance on offense and defense than there’s been in this league,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “This has been traditionally a great defensive league. I can’t imagine that it won’t be. But as I say that, you know, I am watching the scores.”
We could be in more of the same when No. 6 LSU visits No. 9 Georgia on Saturday. The game features two of the league’s top quarterbacks in Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, and both defenses will have their hands full.
What LSU needs to do to win: Control the clock. The best way to stop Murray and the Georgia offense is to keep them off the field. LSU has the ability to do that with the power rushing attack and Mettenberger’s efficiency. If the Tigers can sustain long drives that result in points, it should wear down the UGA defense and help keep the crowd out of it. Playing on the road, they simply can’t afford to fall behind early. The key will be Mettenberger and how he responds to a hostile environment, but expect a heavy dose of Jeremy Hill early in the game.
What Georgia needs to do to win: Between Murray and star running back Todd Gurley, Georgia has shown it can score from just about anywhere on the field. Last week, Auburn was able to hit on a couple of big plays in the second half against LSU, and the Bulldogs need to try and do the same. Murray should take chances against a defense that has looked vulnerable and will be playing on the road for the first time this season. Georgia also has to limit mistakes and play better in special teams than it did against North Texas.
Players to watch
LSU DT Ego Ferguson: The key to stopping Georgia is slowing down the run, and it starts up front. Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson expects to play after leaving last game with an injury, but if he’s not at 100 percent, it will be even more important for his counterpart Ferguson to step up and have a big game.
Georgia DE Jordan Jenkins: LSU’s Mettenberger has only thrown one interception all season, but he’s yet to play on the road and he’s yet to see much pressure. Jenkins hopes to change the latter. He’s still looking for his first sack of the season, but he’s proven to be one of the team’s top pass rushers.
Quotable: “I think the team that goes on the road and wins generally brings the best team with them. They’re guys that have had experience in that environment, understand it and look forward to going in there and doing the things that they came to do.” -- LSU coach Les Miles