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Georgia Football

Kirk Herbstreit Lays Out How the Georgia Bulldogs Can Beat Clemson

September 1, 2021

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ATHENS - ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit laid out how he thinks the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs can beat No. 3 Clemson this week. 

Herbstreit, who will call the game for ABC, said he is not permitted to make a pick on who will win the game. But he nailed down what Georgia has to do on both sides of the ball to win. 

“Georgia’s defense has to be themselves - tough to run on,” he said. “They are always one of the toughest teams to run on. If that plays out in this game, and you make Clemson one dimensional that’s a huge advantage for Georgia’s defense. The concern I have is the cornerback play for Georgia. There is not a lot of depth, and Georgia’s defense on the back end is breaking in a lot of people especially at corner.”

Georgia has been one of the top rush defenses in college football over the last few years. 

“Stop the run first,” Herbstreit continued. “Try to get Uiagalelei in obvious passing downs, and then mix up those coverages as much as you can to try to create hesitation and doubt. And then hope you get turnovers.”

The former Ohio State signal caller said he was expecting more offensive production from the Bulldogs this season, saying year two under Todd Monken should see a major step forward for the Dawgs. 

“I think it gave you an indicator of what’s to come with Todd Monken’s offense in year two,” Herbstreit said. “They’ve had an entire offseason. Think about Monken. He comes to Georgia ready to put in a new offense; doesn’t know who his quarterback is going to be, and then they get a global pandemic. No spring ball. Limited opportunities through the summer. And then we are going to go out, and we are going to have a big year in this first year in this system - really tough to do.”

Herbstreit said the confusion of 2020, and Kirby Smart’s program playing two inexperienced quarterbacks before JT Daniels led him and others to wonder what was going on with the former USC starter. 

“I thought we might see Daniels earlier than we did,” Herbstreit said. “I think all of us were thinking: ‘What’s wrong with JT Daniels?’ Eventually they got to him those last four games, and then went from averaging 29 points a game to 37 points a game. That’s a significant jump.”

Those eight points per game more in offensive production were an indicator that Daniels under center could lead to a major bump in production in 2021. 

“Now you got an entire offseason - winter conditioning; spring ball; summer camp to build and grow around Daniels as your guy,” Herbstreit said. “As you know Georgia has backs in White and Cook. They’ve got some great receivers. That’t probably the area, to me, that they have improved the most. They used to just have one receiver, or two. Now they have six or seven guys that have the ability or potential to contribute. How good Georgia is around JT will tell you how good JT Daniels is going to be. I really believe having a second year in this system and having a normal offseason is going to allow these guys to take a pretty good jump. “

Still, the Bulldogs will have a major challenge with Clemson Saturday night. Herbstreit expects the Tigers’ defensive front to be a major obstacle for Georgia’s offense. 

“But how about a tough start? You have an offensive line (at Georgia) with some injuries - the center, and here comes Clemson, and Clemson’s front four is back to being what Clemson’s front four normally is? That’s going to be an interesting challenge - the offensive line for Georgia against one of the top defensive lines in the country.”

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