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2008 Chick-fil-A Preview - LSU vs. GT
LSU's Ciron Black & GT's Vance Walker
LSU's Ciron Black & GT's Vance Walker
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 29, 2008


It's one of the big prove-it games of the bowl season as LSU tries to show that its dud of a year was an aberration, while Georgia Tech looks to prove its offense can work against anyone. Check out the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl Preview & Prediction



2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl

LSU (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (9-3)

 
Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN



Payout:
$5.83 million   Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA

2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

National Rankings
Georgia Tech LSU
Total Offense
46th  377.33 ypg 55th  371.75 ypg
Total Defense
22nd  312.67 ypg 33rd  326.5 ypg
Scoring Offense
56th  26.17 ppg 34th  30.33 ppg
Scoring Defense
22nd  18.83 ppg 64th  25.92 ppg
Run Offense
3rd  282.33 ypg 43rd  167.25 ypg
Run Defense
20th  116.92 ypg 16th  105.67 ypg
Pass Offense
116th  95 ypg 67th  204.5 ypg
Pass Defense
45th  195.75 ypg 80th  220.83 ypg
Turnover Margin
34th  0.42 79th  -0.33
Georgia Tech
Jacks St W 41-14
at Bos Coll W 19-16
at Va Tech L 20-17
Miss St W 38-7
Duke W 27-0
Gard-Webb W 10-7
at Clemson W 21-17
Virginia L 24-17
Florida St W 31-28
at N Carolina L 28-7
Miami W 41-23
at Georgia W 45-42
LSU
App St W 41-13
North Texas W 41-3
at Auburn W 26-21
Miss St W 34-24
at Florida L 51-21
at S Car W 24-17
Georgia L 52-38
Tulane W 35-10
Alabama L 27-21 OT
Troy W 41-30
Ole Miss L 31-13
at Arkansas L 31-30
Position Ratings
relative to each other
GT 5 highest
1 lowest
LSU
3.5 Quarterbacks 2
5 RBs 4
2.5 Receivers 4
4 O Line 4.5
5 D Line 4
3 Linebackers 4
4 Secondary 3
3 Spec Teams 2.5
5 Coaching 4

Is this going to be a case of being out with the old and in with the new, or will the status quo be maintained, at least for one more game? 

LSU’s 2007 national title campaign seems like 15 years ago after a mediocre 2008, while Georgia Tech closed the season red hot with its running game ripping up Miami and Georgia. The SEC is still considered the top dog overall of the conferences, but the ACC had a better year overall (and both were behind the Big 12) with a better non-conference season and with more exciting young teams
. From North Carolina to Miami, Florida State to Georgia Tech, the ACC appears to be on the verge of being something special, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the SEC in terms of the superpower teams at the top.

Even with the ACC’s resurgence and the SEC’s down year, there’s still a chance for the status quo in the southeast part of the country to be maintained this bowl season as long as the midrange SEC teams like LSU can come through and shine with the time off. And that’s the key to this game … time.

It’s nearly impossible for anyone to properly simulate and prepare for the Georgia Tech running attack, with the defensive discipline hard to put in place in just a few practices, but LSU will have had more than a month to learn most of the ins and outs of the beautifully precise Paul Johnson attack. Of course, Georgia Tech will have had more than a month to add a few wrinkles of its own.
 
After winning three of its final four games, highlighted by the 45-42 stunner at Georgia, Georgia Tech has become one of the teams to watch this bowl season. If the Yellow Jackets can rumble for 300 rushing yards or more and if they can beat LSU relatively impressively, then all of a sudden there might be a mild shift from the spread, which is a modified version of the option but without a fullback and with more passing involved, to the Johnson rushing style. But if the offense is shut down, it’ll take at least another year of proving it can work in the big games before anyone will be too interested in making any changes.
 
Winning impressively has been relative for Georgia Tech as the offense has been wonderful at times, but the defense, despite being full of top NFL prospects up front, has been underwhelming. Six games were decided by four points or fewer this year, with the Yellow Jackets winning four of them, and the dominant double digit wins over teams like Miami and Mississippi State were sprinkled in with a 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb and a blowout loss to North Carolina.

While Georgia Tech seemed to play close game after close game, LSU had a mix of heartstoppers and complete clunkers. The Tigers pushed Alabama better than anyone had before the SEC title game in a 27-21 overtime loss, and then the next week they needed a 30-point fourth quarter to beat Troy. While Tech was hot to close the season, LSU lost three of their final four games including a 31-13 home loss to Ole Miss and a loss to Arkansas.

But all the sins of the five-loss season can start to be washed away with a win to keep the SEC hot in this showdown showcase after winning the last three. A win would mean this might have simply been a rebuilding season, while a Georgia Tech win, considering Johnson has gotten it done with Chan Gailey’s players, might be the launching pad for something truly special.
 
Players to watch: One of the biggest question marks coming into the season was the LSU quarterback situation. The hope was for Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee to combine to replace the steady but unspectacular Matt Flynn, and now it’ll be up to Jordan Jefferson to lead the way. Hatch got hurt, Lee couldn’t stop throwing soul-crushing interceptions, and Jefferson turned out to be the only option after the LSU coaching staff had to revolve the gameplans around hiding Lee. Jefferson is very raw and very talented, and he could use a big game and a big win to make the team his going into the off-season. His accuracy has been the main issue completing just 20 of his 48 passes, but he has three touchdown passes and one interception. Mobile, he hasn’t been able to show off enough his running skills enough, but most importantly, he hasn’t been leading the way to wins.
 
Georgia Tech’s offense revolves around sophomore Jonathan Dwyer, who has blown up in the new offense with 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. He’s been strong all season long with nine 100-yard games, but everything really started to click over the second half of the season as the running game has gotten him in space on a regular basis with wondrous results. Since the near miss against Gardner-Webb, Dwyer has torn off 753 yards and eight touchdowns in six games.
 
Defensively for Georgia Tech, everything works around a great line led by end Michael Johnson, a big, athletic end who’s being projected as a top 15 pick in the 2009 Draft. While he wasn’t quite as dominant as expected, he was still a First Team All-ACC selection after making 43 tackles, seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The last thing LSU needs is for Jefferson to be under steady pressure, which means OT Ciron Black, a projected top 20 pick, will be on display. The winner of the battle between the two will make a ton of extra dough in a few short months.
 
The LSU defensive back seven will need to come up with its best game of the year. The linebacking corps and the safeties will need to show they learned from the mistakes made by Georgia and Miami, and that means junior safety Harry Coleman will have to make all the right reads. There isn’t much of a threat from the Georgia Tech passing game, so it’ll be up to Coleman, mostly, to be the last line of defense. The team’s leading tackler with 69 stops on the year, if his name gets called early and often, that’ll mean Tech is rolling for big yards.

Georgia Tech will win if... the mistakes are kept to a minimum. Expected for an offense that runs like the Yellow Jackets do, there are plenty of fumbles with 18 given away this year. While that’s expected, even if Johnson’s Navy teams were great at not giving the ball away, there can’t be interceptions to go along with the fumbles. Georgia Tech only threw the ball 140 times, but there were six interceptions with one in each of the three losses. Of the 24 turnovers, nine came in the three losses, and against an LSU offense that doesn’t exactly hum on all cylinders on a regular basis, Tech can’t give away any easy chances or short fields.
 
LSU will win if
... Jefferson, or any of the LSU quarterbacks, can complete a pass. The last month of the season was a disaster for the LSU running game because everyone figured out that there wasn’t any passing game to worry about. Everyone dared Lee and Jefferson to throw, they couldn’t do it, and that all but ended the effectiveness of 1,109-yard, 15 touchdown rusher, Charles Scott. LSU has to get bombing early on against a solid pass defense that allowed under 200 yards per game. Even if Jefferson doesn’t connect on any of the big early plays, he needs to do something to keep the Tech back seven from loading up against the run. If Scott’s not effective on the ground, the Tigers will have a tough time coming up with the win.
 
What will happen: LSU still has athletes. The Georgia Tech option doesn’t always work against very fast, very disciplined defenses, and while LSU doesn’t always play sharp up front, with an NFL caliber defensive front and speed to burn in the back seven, it’ll be hard for Tech to consistently get wide and get into space to make the big plays. This is where the time factor kicks in. If this game was played on December 6th, Georgia Tech wins in a walk. With the weeks to rest up and prepare, the LSU defense will do just enough get by.

Line: Georgia Tech -3.5 ... CFN Prediction: LSU 27 … Georgia Tech 24

2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

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