“That speaks a lot,” Georgia cornerback Thomas Flowers said.
What it says is the No. 4 Bulldogs’ defensive backs will be in for a long day when Georgia meets the No. 10 Warriors at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 1 in the Alltel Sugar Bowl. Hawaii, which employs the run-and-shoot offense of former Falcons head coach June Jones, throws the ball on 70 percent of its offensive plays.
“This team right here is just pass, pass, pass,” Flowers said.
If you’re a safety or a cornerback that, “better be your dream,” Bulldogs safety Kelin Johnson said. “It’s an opportunity for you to get more interceptions. If you’re a d-lineman, it’s an opportunity for you to get sacks because he’s going to drop back 45 times a game and be throwing it. I like the numbers in that.”
The Warriors are third in the nation in total offense with 529.3 yards per game and almost all of it – 5,402 of their 6,351 total yards – has come through the air. Texas Tech is the only team in the country with a more unbalanced offense.
“They really don’t need a running game,” cornerback Asher Allen said. “Third-and-one, they are still passing the ball. That puts the defense on their heels, realizing that there is so much that they can do.”
Hawaii – which is led by quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy finalist -- leads the nation in points per game (46.2) and yards per play (7.3).
“The numbers are very, very impressive and imposing,” head coach Mark Richt said. “I think when you throw it as often as they do, you definitely are going to get yards and get completions and all, but they are also getting points to go along with it.”
Georgia began its bowl preparation with a Friday afternoon practice. The Bulldogs will work out again today and then five days next week before breaking for the holiday. The team will reconvene in New Orleans on Dec. 26.
The defensive game plan Georgia uses will most closely resemble what it used against Troy, a team with a spread offense that relied mostly on the passing game, but it will be even more weighted toward having cornerbacks and safeties on the field rather than defensive linemen.
“I don’t know if there will be a down of base (defense),” Richt said. “Most of (Troy’s) passes were behind the line of scrimmage. Hawaii has some of those type passes, but they’ve got the quick-screen stuff, the short, intermediate and deep ball. They do everything.”
The Warriors offense starts with Brennan, who has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 4,174 yards, 38 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this year. Of the 31 players in the nation who have more than 1,000 receiving yards this season, three of them play for the Warriors. No other team in the country has as many.
“People who have played them said their receivers are as good as any you’ll see in the country,” Richt said. “They said the quarterback-and-receiver situation there, you won’t go to any school in America and find a better bunch.”
Wide receivers Ryan Grice-Mullen, Davone Bess and Jason Rivers all earned All-America recognition from at least one source this season.
“They can go anywhere they want to,” Flowers said, “and it starts with the quarterback.”
The task that Georgia is facing on the first day of the new year will make the holidays a little more stressful for the Bulldogs’ defensive backs, Allen said.
“We’re going to be on the field so much,” he said, “that we have to make sure we stay in shape.”