||LA-LAFAYETTE at GEORGIA
12:21 p.m. ET
Sanford Stadium (92,746)
|LIVE TV: SEC Network
[Dave Neal, play-by-play; Andre Ware, color analyst; Cara Capuano, sidelines]
Rickey Bustle is in his ninth season at Louisiana-Lafayette and overall with a record of 338-56 (.404). The Ragin' Cajuns' offensive coordinator is Ron Hudson and the defensive coordinator is Kevin Fouquier.
Mark Richt is in his 10th season at Georgia and overall with a record of 90-27 (.769). The Bulldogs' offensive coordinator is Mike Bobo and Todd Grantham serves as the defensive coordinator.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE HAS THE BALL
The Cajuns won in 2009 when the offensive line was at its best. UL allowed a total of only three sacks in six victories. With an upright quarterback, the Cajuns were 112-of-182 passing (61.5%) with seven passing TD's to just one interception in the team's six victories. Junior Chris Masson will run the offense as the starting quarterback, with sophomore Blaine Gautier expected as backup. Gautier will get time on the field in the wildcat formation. Look for Marlin Miller to be the main target at wideout. He led UL in catches (37), yards (325) and touchdowns (2) in '09.
Despite losing three starters, the secondary has eight returning lettermen, many of whom played significant roles last season. Brandon Boykin (5-10, 183, Jr.) is the lone remaining starter at cornerback. A year ago, Boykin had 54 tackles and a team-best three interceptions. In addition, Boykin set the SEC record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Demarcus Dobbs led the way on the DL last season with 30 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, last season, plus he posted a team-high three caused fumbles. Justin Houston has the inside track at one of the inside LB positions. He led the Bulldogs a year ago with 15 tackles for loss (39 overall), including 7.5 sacks.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN GEORGIA HAS THE BALL
The Cajuns 16 interceptions last season were the most since 1994 (19). UL was 2nd in the SBC and 23rd in the NCAA in picks. The defense ranked 29th nationally in turnovers gained. UL was 6-2 in 2009 when the defense forced at least two turnovers. With most of the defense returning, the unit should be improved again in 2010. The linebackers enjoy a great mix of veteran leadership and upcoming young talent, while the secondary is loaded with veterans, plus two JUCO transfers.
The Bulldogs return last season's top rushers in Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. Ealey rolled up 717 yards and three touchdowns in 2009, followed by King with 594 yards and seven scores. Georgia has one of the country's premier receivers in A.J. Green (6-4, 205, Jr.) at flanker. An All-SEC pick in 2008 and 2009, Green had team-best totals of 53 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns last season. With all five starters and eight overall lettermen returning, Georgia should be formidable in the trenches. A year ago, the linemen paved the way for 362 total yards and 29 points per game.
Since Coach Bustle's arrival, the Cajuns have blocked 41 kicks, ranking third in the nation over that span. Scoring on special team's blocks has been special for the Cajuns, accumulating seven touchdowns, one safety and one defensive extra point. Senior Tyler Albrecht returns as the starting kicker. He had a solid debut season, making 8-of- 11 field goals in 2009. His first career attempt may be his most memorable - a 48-yarder in the closing seconds to help UL upset Kansas State.
Georgia may have the nation's top special teams tandem in punter Drew Butler and place-kicker Blair Walsh. Butler won the Ray Guy Award in 2009 as the country's best punter after he averaged 48.1 yards per attempt. Walsh, a Lou Groza Award finalist, connected on 20-of-22 field goals, including 4-of-5 beyond 50 yards, and all 42 of his extra points.
Record: First Meeting
Mark Richt embarks on his 10th season as Georgia's head coach focused on getting the Bulldogs back into the upper echelon of the SEC. Despite extending their streak of eight or more wins in a season to 13 years with an 8-5 record in 2009, the Bulldogs have grown accustomed to better. The Bulldogs will enter 2010 with three new defensive coaches, marking the largest single-year turnover under Richt. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is putting a 3-4 defense in place.