The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Georgia’s Hot Start
The Bulldogs have started the season well, with a 45-0 win over Austin Peay and a 45-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 12, 2018
Improving their Running Game
Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart stressed the importance of the running game to the Bulldog offense prior to the South Carolina game.
“We’ve got to have some more explosive runs,” Smart said. “We probably haven’t been as explosive as we were last year.”
Junior running back Elijah Holyfield answered his coach’s request, rushing for 76 yards on just nine carries. He brought the much-needed explosiveness from the Georgia backfield with a 26-yard run and a touchdown.
Holyfield wasn’t the only running back to leave his mark on the game. In fact, nine different players carried the ball at some point during the game, including a 30-yard rush from junior receiver Mecole Hardman. Overall, the Bulldogs rushed for 271 total yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
The Blue Raiders haven’t had quite the same start to their season as the Bulldogs. Middle Tennessee fell 35-7 to Vanderbilt but was able to claw back to beat the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 61-37 on Saturday.
Against the Skyhawks, the Blue Raiders relied heavily on the arm of senior quarterback Brent Stockstill. Stockstill completed 25 of 34 passes for 407 yards and five touchdowns.
— Middle Tennessee FB (@MT_FB) September 12, 2018
Several Middle Tennessee receivers had big games by making big plays. Sophomore running back Brad Anderson caught six for 141 yards, averaging 23.5 yards per catch. Of the nine players to complete a catch on the day, three averaged at least 23.5 yards per reception.
Despite the strength of Middle Tennessee’s passing offense, they have significant holes in their running game and defense. Against Tennessee-Martin, the Blue Raiders averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Against the lower-ranked teams, Middle Tennessee may be able to get away with it, but against the better opponents, they will have to have more balance.
Additionally, the defense has given up 36 points per game through two. If they want to compete with Georgia, they will have to stop the explosive plays from the Bulldog backfield.
Georgia and Middle Tennessee will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:15 p.m.