The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1) have the No. 2 defense in the nation — they’re a fundamentally sound unit that is savvy in its film study and preparation.
Two Georgia defenders realize that as good as their unit has been this season, Michigan’s offense presents a threat. Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith and defensive lineman Travon Walker both believe that the Wolverines have a pro-style offense and mentality.
“Jim Harbaugh is a great NFL coach, an NFL mindset and he has that pound ‘em pound ‘em and then take a shot down the field kind of mindset,” Smith said. “And also, that’s when the pass-rush, when they have seven-man protections and they’re taking shots down the field... somebody’s gotta win.”
Michigan leads the nation in plays over 50 yards, and Smith’s observation of Michigan having an NFL style offense is spot on. From a mentality perspective, from a schematics standpoint, this Wolverines offense is reminiscent of Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers teams — where Harbaugh went to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, along with one Super Bowl appearance.
Michigan’s offense, it’s powered by its 10th ranked rushing attack and 12th ranked scoring offense. Running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, “Thunder and Lightning”, have been a most impressive 1A, 1B out of the backfield — and the way Michigan mixes up their formations running the ball has Walker and the Georgia defense making adjustments.
“It is kind of different because they like to run the ball a lot more than a lot of teams have been during this year,” Walker said. “And they use a lot of different formations — they use a lot of NFL formations, so it is something that we have to adjust to.”
As far as what the over-arching theme for Georgia’s defense is in terms of what they plan on doing to stop Michigan — it’s all about sticking with their bread and butter.
“As a defense we just have to go out there and do what we do,” Walker said while noting one difference this time around. “It’s just that we have to earn our right to rush the passer, so we have to stop the run first.”
At time of publishing, Michigan is a 7.5 point underdog to Georgia on DraftKings.com.
You can watch Georgia vs. Michigan in the College Football Playoff’s Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.