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Georgia's secondary facing atypical receiving attack.


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NEW ORLEANS - It's easy to feel sorry for Akeem Dent heading into Tuesday's Sugar Bowl against Hawaii.

Dent is Georgia's starting strongside linebacker, the position that is replaced by an extra defensive back when the Bulldogs use nickel coverage in passing downs.

Nearly every play could be a passing down for Georgia against Hawaii and its quarterback Colt Brennan, who passed 75 times in a game this season, the most by anyone this year in the NCAA.

"I don't know how much base (defense) we're going to be in," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know if there's a down of base."

Dent might be the lucky one because Georgia's defensive backs will have to contend with a potent Hawaii run-and-shoot offense in which the receivers run their routes based on the coverage they see from the defense.

"You definitely can't be a dummy in this offense," said Hawaii junior Ryan Grice-Mullen, one of three receivers with more than 1,000 receiving yards this season.

"You've got to learn how to read defenses. Once you learn that, you have to learn how to transfer that onto the field while the defense is moving fast."

Hawaii's done that quite well this season with the nation's top scoring offense (46.17 points per game) and second-rated passing offense (450.17 yards per game).

"In any offense now but a little bit moreso in ours, we do a lot of things and we give the receivers a lot of freedom to read the coverage and run routes accordingly," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "A lot of teams call a play and the 'Z' has a 16-yard square in. We're going to only run the square in if you're outside of us. If you're inside of us, we're going to go the other way. You have to be able to read those things on the run or on the snap of the ball."

Defenses throw disguises in their coverage at Hawaii, Grice-Mullen said, to try to make those reads more confusing.

"I think it's the experience and the talent that makes them who they are and the guy throwing the ball to them," Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "They do a great job of reading defenses and leverage. That will be a great challenge for us. We're going to do our best of giving them different looks. You can't give them a steady diet of one thing."

Georgia cornerback Asher Allen said Hawaii's receiving corps, which also includes Davone Bess, Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne, has great chemistry with Brennan, who relies on quick screens and take his shots downfield.

"They always make a good decision," Allen said. "From watching film, it seems like they have an opportunity of doing what they see. It's obviously an advantage for them."

"That's what pretty much makes this offense special with Colt and the receiving corps," Grice-Mullen said. "We've been playing with each other for about three years now. We pretty much know every move the other's going to do. A receiver in this offense is pretty much just like the quarterback. You've got to know the same reads just like he does. We pretty much feel like we've perfected it. That's what makes us go."

Hawaii lines up in four and five receiver sets looking for mismatches against a linebacker or safety or its outside receivers against a cornerback.

"When people hear run-and-shoot they think the offense is automatically going to get yards," Grice-Mullen said. "I feel the receivers and athletes pretty much elevated the run-and-shoot to a whole another level. That's one of the reasons with our defense, special teams and offensive line, why we're here now."

Georgia coach Mark Richt said other teams also adjust routes based on coverages but it's hard to know for certain.

"Sometimes you're not sure what people are doing," Richt said. "I think a lot of people have some of that element in their passing attack but not to the extent Hawaii does."

Georgia defensive backs say they can't be sure what option Hawaii's receivers will take in their routes.

"There's really no way to guard them, you just have to play them head up or just play raw defense," safety C.J. Byrd said. "If you play man, you've got to play every route and be able to react to it."

"It keeps you on your toes a lot," cornerback Bryan Evans said. "This is not a good game to guess. You just have to stand your ground and react to what they do. They have a really good scheme, but if we prepare correctly and use our technique, I think we'll be OK."

Jan. 1

No. 10 Hawaii vs. No. 5 Georgia

8:30 p.m. (FOX)

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Give the ball to Moreno and Brown 20+ times each and the Hawaii offense stays off the field and Georgia eats up the clock along with scoring TD's. I'm no coach, but that seems like a pretty flawless gameplan to me. Hawaii wouldn't be able to stop me if I were out there as the running back, there's no way they could handle Moreno and Brown both getting 20+ carries. Have Stafford throw the ball 12-15 times and that's it.

Richt will be called a genius for sure;)

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