I realize that Georgia is already behind the 8-ball against Boise State given that the Bulldogs won't be wearing their normal uniforms, but here are a few things I picked up recently from re-watching BSU's season-opening, neutral site game against Virginia Tech.
Boise State's offense is roughly the most wide-open NFL offense you've ever seen. It's far more pro-style than what people generally think of as a college spread offense. The Broncos throw the ball down the field quite a bit, but they're nothing near a Mike Leach-ian Air Raid offense. They will line up and run the ball right at you out of the I-formation and use five-wide empty sets sparingly.
That bodes well for Georgia's defense, given that dealing with pro-style offenses is right up Todd Grantham's wheelhouse. Virginia Tech's defense did a fairly good job last year, all things considered. Boise only scored 16 points without any kind of help, and that was against the worst VT defense of the past five-plus years.
Watching Boise's defense felt a lot like watching Auburn's defense from a year ago. If you're running it up the middle on them, or they guess correctly about what you want to do, they will stop you. They got a fair amount of pressure in the backfield too. However when Tyrod Taylor had time to throw, he picked apart the Bronco secondary. He posted a 169.2 passing efficiency for the game, his second-highest of the season against good teams. It would have been even higher if not for two obvious pass interference penalties that Boise's secondary committed to prevent long plays from succeeding. Boise State also had issues with Taylor's athleticism, as it doesn't have elite athletes on defense to combat the other team's elite athletes.
Georgia did fairly well against most defenses last year, though it will miss A.J. Green considerably. What Mike Bobo will want to do is find ways to get his elite athletes in space. Orson Charles sticks out to me as the biggest potential mismatch, but he's got some good ones in Tavarres King and Isaiah Crowell also. He'll also need to be productively unpredictable because you can gash Boise if the defense guesses incorrectly. BSU's defense also had a distinct bend-but-don't-break flavor to it, so Bobo can't get impatient and stop taking what the defense gives him.
Don't give them any help.
Boise State got 10 cheap points in the first quarter. First, the Broncos got a field goal on a four-yard "drive" after Taylor fumbled a snap at his own 31-yard line. They then got a touchdown on a 12-yard "drive" after a blocked punt. On the very next Boise offensive series, VT got a stop, but a running into the kicker penalty kept it alive and led to another score.
That's 17 gift-wrapped points for Boise, though it comes down to 10 if you account for Boise State keeping a VT drive alive with a roughing the kicker penalty of its own. Still, the final margin was three points, and Boise scored the go-ahead touchdown with a minute to go. VT still could have won the game as it was, but it would have been in much better shape without the bad first quarter.
Get Aaron Murray on the move.
Murray is not as quick or fast as Taylor is, but Boise State clearly had trouble with VT's mobile quarterback. There also were a few times where, as Taylor was having success throwing the ball, Boise loaded up the pass rush to try to reduce the amount of time he had to throw. With Murray's natural gifts as a mobile guy, Georgia would be foolish not to roll him out frequently or even call some straight-up quarterback draws.
That strategy also plays into giving Murray more time to throw. Anything Georgia can do to ensure that its receivers can run their complete routes will be a success, because as I said, that secondary can be beat.
Get Kellen Moore on the move.
Maybe he just had a bad game, but Moore was not effective throwing on the run or in the face of pressure against Virginia Tech. He wasn't awful in those situations, but he wasn't good by any definition of the word.
If Moore has no pressure on him, he'll step up and hit nearly every throw. However when the Hokies got in his face or flushed him out of the pocket, half the time he underthrew his passes and half the time he overthrew them. He also had a bad habit of tossing soft rainbows into coverage down the field periodically, something VT's secondary didn't do a great job of capitalizing on.
While losing Justin Houston certainly doesn't help UGA in this regard, the Bulldogs do have a considerable size advantage up front. Boise State only has one starting offensive lineman listed at 300 pounds or more, and he's at 300 lbs exactly. One of the starting tackles, Charles Leno, is only 278 lbs. All three of Georgia's starting defensive linemen are listed above 300 lbs, and it has a pair of elephants rotating at nose tackle in Kwame Geathers (350 lbs) and John Jenkins (351 lbs). OLB Cornelius Washington, at 269 lbs, nearly matches the girth of Leno.
Getting pressure on Moore is a necessity, and Georgia is equipped to do it.
Don't psyche yourself out.
The Hokies were pretty hyped up for the game, with a favorable crowd and probably a desire to put the little guy in their place. They played an awful first quarter, ended up down 17-0 by the end of it, and took so much time coming back that they didn't have time to build a lead.
If Georgia can come into it focused and treat it like any other game, it will have an excellent chance to win. I just don't know where this team will be at mentally in the wake of last year, after the hype of the "Dream Team" recruiting class, and with the desire to vindicate the head coach.
Boise a slight favorite according to Vegas, though a much larger favorite according to preseason rankings. Georgia just needs to play its best game based on the matchup and ignore the rest. Doing that should let them start the year 1-0.