Ready for a 'dogfight'
UGA faces big challenge in pass-happy Hawaii offense

ATHENS - Most Georgia players and coaches focused Sunday on the numbers in the polls and BCS standings that kept the No. 4 Bulldogs from moving into the national championship game.

Coach Mark Richt said his defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, may have moved quickly to another set of staggering numbers, the statistics for quarterback Colt Brennan and the Hawaii offense.

Georgia's primary challenge in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl will be trying to contain Hawaii's run-and-shoot attack.

'I'm not sure Coach Martinez will sleep tonight,' Richt said.

'The numbers are very, very impressive and imposing even.'

Brennan, a Heisman Trophy candidate who on Monday earned his second consecutive Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year award, is the NCAA career leader with 131 touchdown passes.

Some Georgia players may remember June Jones' pass-happy attack as the Atlanta Falcons coach from 1994-96. Now Jones' run-and-shoot offense has lifted No. 10 Hawaii to its highest national ranking and biggest bowl game.

Hawaii leads the nation with 46.2 points per game. Brennan, a senior, ranks second in the nation in total offense after passing for 4,174 yards with 38 touchdowns and 14


Richt said Troy was the only team on Georgia's schedule which comes close to matching Hawaii's commitment to the passing game.

'Troy doesn't do it as good as Hawaii, but Troy does throw the ball an awful lot and they did spread it out quite a bit,' Richt said. 'They would be the closest thing to Hawaii. I'd say half of their offense was throwing little quick screens behind the line of scrimmage ... whereas Hawaii has short, medium and deep-ball opportunities.

'Brennan has thrown more touchdown passes than anybody in the history of the world, the college world anyway. No one does it quite like coach Jones' team does it.'

Three Hawaii receivers rank among the top eight in the nation in receptions per game. Each of the three has more than 1,000 yards this season.

'I think when you throw it as often as they do, you're definitely going to get yards and you're going to get completions,' Richt said. 'But they're also getting points to go with it.'

More teams in recent years have used formations with as many as four receivers in certain obvious passing situations. The run-and-shoot regularly employs four or more receivers, putting a serious strain on a defense's depth at cornerback.

'If we're having success and doing things right, it really can put a defense in a bind, no matter who you are,' Brennan said Monday in a telephone interview. 'We've never been stopped, we only have stopped ourselves.

'If we make the right reads and the right adjustments, I don't think anybody can stop us.'

Georgia safety Kelin Johnson said he expects Hawaii's offense also will test the Bulldogs' depth at defensive end. Rushing the passer on every down will be exhausting, Johnson said.

'We're going to have to keep the legs fresh on the D-line because they're going to be tired,' Johnson said. 'I wouldn't be surprised to see some of our linebackers lining up on the edge for this game, just to keep fresh legs.'

Brennan called Georgia 'a monster' team.

'I'm expecting a dogfight,' Brennan said. "I'm expecting a great defense to show up and make us earn everything.'

Hawaii's offense also will challenge Georgia's offense to sustain drives to keep its defense fresh.

'We know Hawaii can put up a lot of points in a hurry,' said quarterback Matthew Stafford. 'We've got to come out and play good to give ourselves a chance to win.'

Stafford said the run-and-shoot looks 'pretty fun' for a quarterback and said Brennan has mastered the offense.

'He's awesome,' said Stafford of Brennan. 'He's got a great release, a quick release.

'He does it really well. It looks good because he runs it and makes it look good.'

SideBar: At a glance

· What: Sugar Bowl

· When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.

· Where: New Orleans

· TV: Fox