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July 16, 2010
State Supremacy: Georgia vs. Louisiana
THE TEAMS: Ga. | La. VOTE: Who wins? MORE: N.C. vs. S.C. | Calif. vs. Fla. vs. Texas
When it comes to college football talent, California, Florida and Texas are the nation's leading manufacturers.
The second tier of talent producers is led authoritatively by Georgia, a state that is regularly inundated with college recruiters out of Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and the rest of the nation. While Georgia is decisively behind the big three in talent production, it is also noticeably ahead of other second-tier states such as Ohio, Louisiana or Virginia in most years. Consequently, it is difficult to find a fitting state vs. state comparison.
Enter the class of 2011 in Louisiana.
Though Louisiana has roughly half the population as the state of Georgia, a special year has emerged in this graduating class of 2011. There is an abnormal amount of talent in the Pelican State this year, particularly at the top and the group that could be compiled would create a fantastic matchup against the always loaded state of Georgia.
La. Offense vs. Ga. Defense
Any game starts at the line of scrimmage and in this game, there are some huge bodies that would be butting heads as both teams have some of their best prospects in the trenches.
When Louisiana has the ball, its offense would be running behind a fantastic offensive line, led by the nation's top offensive tackle prospect in La'El Collins. With Collins' athleticism and nasty streak manning the quarterback's blind side on the left, Thibodaux tackle Gregory Robinson would be handling the right side. You won't find much more of an athletic pair at the tackle position in the country than those two prospects.
The strength of the Louisiana line is necessary because Georgia would be bringing some mass to equal it on the other side of the ball. The nation's No. 2 weakside defensive end in Ray Drew would be leading the defense as a long athlete that would give Collins and Robinson all they could handle.
His three other running mates would all bring great size and physicality. Sterling Bailey at defensive end along with Stephon Tuitt and Gabriel Wright on the inside would make it tough to get much of an inside running game going. As athletic as Tuitt and Wright would be on the inside, Georgia may also be able to create some pressure with just four rushers.
That imposing, physical defensive line for Georgia is another necessity. Louisiana would bring in a power running game behind two big backs in four-stars Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill. Both backs are massive and while Hilliard (6-0/230) would be a move the pile, downhill runner, Hill - at 6 feet 1 and 220 pounds - would actually provide the change of pace option with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his ability to stay on his feet at the second level.
As an athlete, Terrance Magee would also provide a curveball with the ability to come in as a "wildcat" quarterback, work out of the slot or line up as a true tailback with a little bit more elusiveness.
The defenders that those backs would meet at the second level for Georgia would certainly be up to the task of wrestling down the big ball-carriers. Shannon Brown and James Vaughters are both thick, physical linebackers that excel going downhill and meeting backs head on. Southwest Dekalb linebacker Terrance Smith - a Florida State commit - also has great size at 6-4 but may excel on the weakside getting an extra rusher on the quarterback and chasing down the lumbering Louisiana backs.
Another fantastic matchup emerges in the secondary between Louisiana's three four-star receivers and Georgia's five four-star defensive backs. Though none of Louisiana's three standouts possess great size, they have speed in Bradley Sylve, athleticism in Odell Beckham Jr. and precision at its finest in Jarvis Landry.
All three of Louisiana's targets know how to get open and know what to do with the ball after the catch. When any of those three receivers catch the ball, the play is only beginning.
Defensively, Corey Moore and Avery Walls would be asked not to give up the big play. Both are disciplined, competitive safeties with ball skills and a taste for the big hit but with Damian Swann, Nick Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell playing underneath them, there is a lot of speed and a lot of big play ability to create turnovers and take chances.
At quarterback for Louisiana, Daniel Sams is a bit of an x-factor. The Kansas State commit looks the part as a quarterback, he has a big arm, he can make all the throws and he is extremely athletic. Is he disciplined enough to make no mistakes against a speedy Georgia defense? Or does he have that extra play-making ability that would be the deciding factor?
Ga. Offense vs. La. Defense
When Georgia has the ball, it is led at quarterback by South Carolina commit Martay Mattox. Mattox can also improvise with his legs and can certainly make the throws as well. In this game though, Mattox's job would be to manage the game and get the ball in the hands of his playmakers and he has plenty of them.
Mattox would be lining up behind a much less-heralded line than that of the Louisiana group but it is not lacking at all for size. At left tackle, Tennessee commit Alan Posey stands 6-6 and weighs 305 pounds. The right tackle would likely be either Watts Dantzler or Xzavier Ward. Either way, that is six feet and seven inches more lineman to protect the right side, with the other moving inside to guard. Georgia commit David Andrews would line up at center alongside Thomas O'Reilly at guard who would lock downright small at 6-3, 313 pounds.
Georgia would need more than just size to block the big, athletic defensive line for Louisiana. Anthony Johnson is arguably the most complete and dominating defensive tackle in the country with size, motor and athleticism. Next to him, Mickey Johnson is undersized at only around 6 feet but there may not be a stronger player in the nation and he has great quickness and athleticism.
On the edge, LSU commit Quentin Thomas is raw but athletic and four-star Jermauria Rasco is one of the most prolific pass-rushers in the history of Louisiana high school football. Needless to say, nothing will come easy for Georgia, particularly in the five and seven-step drop pass game.
Mattox's wide receiver corps may not have quite the polish of Louisiana's but it certainly has speed. Justin Scott-Wesley is the single fastest wide receiver in the nation and will stretch the field with ease. Chris Conley is a physical upfield receiver that can move the chains and be a possession guy or make plays vertically. The effectiveness of those two will be helped even more by the attention that will need to be placed on Rivals100 tight end Jay Rome, possibly the biggest individual mismatch on either side of the ball.
In the Louisiana secondary, the cornerbacks would have no problem controlling the wide receivers. Floyd Raven continues to emerge this offseason as one of the truly elite cornerbacks in the country and could put the clamps on either of Georgia's two receivers. Jevante Watson is also one of the region's most underrated defensive backs and would be up to the task to defend anything upfield or outside the hashes.
West Monroe's athletic quarterback Paul Turner could also be counted on in the nickel to be a steady defender as he has shown immense upside at the defensive back position through the spring and summer.
The safeties would have their hands full. T.K. Fleming and Alonzo Lewis are both extremely physical bodies with tons of upside and athleticism. Neither is very experienced at the safety position though and trying to matchup with Rome or even a versatile athlete like C.J. Uzomah would prove to be a challenge.
Throughout the position breakdown though, there is not much give by either team and it is hard to determine an obvious edge. That changes when you evaluate the matchup between the Louisiana linebackers and the Georgia running backs. Isaiah Crowell and Quan Bray are two of the most explosive athletes in the country at any position and they are both one false step by a defender away from a touchdown.
With Beau Fitte, Timothy Johnson and Seth Jones constituting the Louisiana linebacker corps, Crowell and Bray are likely going to find at least a couple of those small creases that they need to make a big play - a game-breaking play.
Picking a Winner
In a game that would be nothing if not exciting, Louisiana would take Georgia the distance, giving the Peach State everything it could handle.
Likely the game would see a lot of turnovers caused by two ball-hawking defenses and strong pass rushes, a lot of big plays from teams with several homerun hitters and some exciting plays from a couple of creative quarterbacks. In the end though, Georgia would likely have just a few more big plays in them than Louisiana and be relieved to head home with ten point victory.