The Michigan Wolverines have the luxury of having two of the best edge rushers in all of college football: Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. The two of them have been in opponents’ backfields all year long generating quarterback pressures with ease. Hutchinson has 14 sacks on the year and broke the regular season sack record at Michigan. Ojabo isn’t too far behind with 11 sacks on the year. The Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart knows it will be a tough test to handle these two.
“The first thing you have to do is match their intensity,” Smart told the media Wednesday morning. “Regardless of the talent they have, the strain, the desire, the want-to leaks through on the film. You talk to people that have played them, it’s one of the first things they talk about is man, we didn’t take into account how hard they played, how much effort, how much want-to, how much desire.”
The effort and determination that Hutchinson and Ojabo possess has been evident since before the season began. Hutchinson came back for a reason, and he’s made that very clear.
“That has to come from within,” Smart said. “That doesn’t come from a star that was given to you out of high school. That doesn’t come from a reputation you got. That comes from like within, what do you have inside you, what stamina do you have in the fourth quarter to pass pro or run block, whatever it requires in the fourth quarter, to outwork the player, out-strain the player in front of you. Those two guys just are tremendous want-to... you can tell they push each other. They go against a really good offensive line every day in practice, so those guys are really good competitors, and they’re a huge challenge for our offensive line.”
While Smart and Georgia know they have a big challenge ahead of them facing these two, they look forward to battles like this.
“Our offensive line embraces challenges like this,” Smart said. “They want these opportunities. It’s what you come to college to go play against is the best in the country, whether that’s the best in the country at run defense or best in the country at rushing the passer. You want to play against the best. You want to be measured against the best, and that’s what the playoffs allow you to do.”
Michigan has been able to stifle opponents’ passing game by giving the quarterback no time to throw. If Hutchinson and Ojabo can continue that trend against Georgia, the Bulldogs will have a tough time generating offense through the air.