College Football & Soccer Analyst
LOS ANGELES — Max Duggan didn’t sugarcoat something.
He is aware of he’s about to line up throughout the most effective — if not the greatest — gamers he’s ever confronted.
Georgia star defensive lineman Jalen Carter figures to play a outstanding function on Monday when his workforce tries to defend its nationwide title in opposition to TCU at SoFi Stadium. Carter is a 6–foot–3, 300-pound disruptive pressure in the midst of the Bulldogs’ protection who might find yourself being the No. 1 total decide on this 12 months’s NFL draft. A monster recreation on faculty soccer’s grandest stage would solely improve his case.
Breaking down TCU’s offense vs. Georgia’s protection
“I mean, the dude is so powerful,” Duggan mentioned at media day on Saturday morning. “He’s so big. He’s fast. He’s twitchy. And he just causes so many issues for a lot of teams. We’ve got to make sure that we’re aware of where he’s at and make sure that we’ve got him dialed in because we know it’s gonna be a big challenge for us.”
Carter was an enormous problem for Ohio State within the College Football Playoff semifinal on the Peach Bowl final week. But the Buckeyes found out methods to neutralize him and restrict his affect. Carter had just one deal with on 52 snaps, and quarterback C.J. Stroud, who isn’t recognized for his mobility, turned slippery sufficient that he might evade Georgia’s indomitable pressure. Ohio State additionally used double groups and a transferring pocket to frustrate the Bulldogs and maintain Carter away from Stroud.
Duggan is extra agile than Stroud, however can the Horned Frogs’ offensive line maintain Carter at bay for 4 quarters?
“I don’t think you can neutralize him,” TCU middle Alan Ali mentioned. “He’s gonna make plays. He’s a great player. But I think we can come together as an O-line and get the stops that we have to. Because he’s going to have his moments, but we’re gonna have our moments as well.”
Carter was Georgia’s most skilled defensive participant to return from final 12 months’s nationwide championship-winning workforce, and has been one of the crucial dominant linemen in faculty soccer this season. Even whereas he didn’t lead any statistical classes, his presence alone calls for consideration from a number of offensive linemen, which frees up different Bulldogs to make performs.
Carter additionally handled a nagging ankle harm for greater than half of the season. He missed two video games and got here off the bench in 4 others, however described himself as “100%” earlier than the Peach Bowl.
In his final seven video games, Carter posted 25 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and two pressured fumbles.
“You know how special he is,” Duggan mentioned. “You see everything that he’s done, and you know where he’s projected [to be drafted] right now.
“He’s such a stud and causes so many troubles for opposing offensive traces and groups. He’s so impactful, whether or not it is him truly making performs and inflicting disruptions or him taking over double groups and permitting one on ones for different guys on his line of defense.”
Can Georgia be back-to-back champs?
TCU senior left guard Steve Avila isn’t fazed by Carter’s reputation. Especially not after the way the Frogs managed Michigan’s defense in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wolverines entered that game with the Big Ten’s top-ranked run defense, to which the Frogs responded by running for 263 yards and three touchdowns despite losing star running back Kendre Miller to an injury in the first half. Meanwhile, Georgia has the nation’s best rush defense, holding opponents to 3.0 yards per carry and just six rushing touchdowns through 14 undefeated games. Ohio State was only able to rush for 119 yards and a touchdown in the CFP semifinal.
“We know he’s participant, however we deal with him like every other opponent,” Avila said of Carter. “We know he’s actually, actually good. But our guys are good, too.
“I’ve gone against some really good players and I just feel like he’s another one.”
Aside from Carter, Georgia’s protection is dripping with future NFL expertise, from Chris Smith to Smael Mondon to Kelee Ringo and Mykel Williams, who mixed for 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in opposition to the Buckeyes.
And Duggan is aware of his offense has to reap the benefits of any alternative it will get. The Frogs merely need to execute and attempt to set up the operating recreation on Monday to have a shot at pulling off an enormous upset.
“They know what they’re doing,” Duggan mentioned. “Not a lot of teams are as talented or as disciplined as those guys. They fly around the ball, they’re fast and powerful. They’re everything you want in a team. There are a lot of people that maybe have just one of those traits [on their defense], but they’ve got all of them.
“So it’s going to be an enormous problem for us to verify we execute and do our job, don’t get behind the sticks or give them momentum.”
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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