Georgia, Penn State coaches preview TaxSlayer Bowl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bryan McClendon's first game as head coach in a college football game will take place Jan. 2 before a national TV audience as he takes Georgia to the TaxSlayer Bowl, facing Penn State.

McClendon, who spent the season as Georgia’s receivers coach, is filling in between Mark Richt’s dismissal after 15 years with the Bulldogs and Kirby Smart’s hiring.

McClendon and Penn State's head coach James Franklin came to town Thursday to talk up their game and each other's strong defense. Georgia owns the top passing defense in all of college football and Penn State's unit sits at No. 14 to the Bulldogs eighth when it comes to total defense.

"I think you can take for granted that the defenses are going to play well," Franklin said. "It's going to be special teams and offense trying to make plays and getting points on the board."

They got a Lombardi winner [in end Carl Nassib] and a first-round quarterback [Christian Hackenberg], and a running back [Saquon Barkley]. That's dynamite too," McClendon said of the Nittany Lyons.

Georgia (9-3) will pursue its second straight 10-win season.

"I think you can take for granted that the defenses are going to play well," Franklin said. "It's going to be special teams and offense trying to make plays and getting points on the board."

Both offenses have limped to the finish line in a sense, though; Georgia's unit has struggled with inconsistent quarterback play and hasn't had much of an identity since star tailback Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in October. Penn State's warts on that side of the ball are well known, and while both defenses enter the postseason among the best in the country, Georgia's offense ranks No. 75 overall, while the Lions sit at No. 106.
 

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