The question going forward about the Georgia defense


ATHENS – For nine weeks, Georgia rode its defense, and rode it far. It was among the best defenses in the nation, setting up an argument to be the best.

Then came Auburn. So the central question, as concerns remaining championship aspirations, was put to safety J.R. Reed: Did this defense get exposed, or was it just a bad night?

“We still think that we’re the best. We still believe that we’re the best,” Reed said. “They had a good game. (We) played a good team, they got us, they had our number that game. It’s all about bouncing back and showing everybody that we’re still the best.”

Georgia lost by 23 points on Saturday night, which nobody in the BCS and playoff era has done and gone on to win the whole thing. It’s also unusual for a Kirby Smart defense.

In the Nick Saban era at Alabama, with Smart the defensive coordinator from 2007-15, the Crimson Tide have never lost a game by more than 14 points. Even Saban’s first year at Alabama, when they went 6-7, the Tide never lost by more than a touchdown.

That doesn’t completely fall on the defense, obviously. Some of those points came after being handed a short field. But Georgia’s defense gave up 488 yards, not only a season-long, but the second-most in Smart’s two years at Georgia. (Last year Ole Miss had 510 yards.)

“After you lose it’s like failing a test,” Reed said. “You want to see what you did wrong. You pay a little bit more attention, you do a little bit more film, you do a little bit extra to get over that hump.”

Georgia still ranks second in the SEC in total defense, as measured by yards allowed per game (277.5), and is third in yards given up per play (4.53.) Auburn is third and second in those categories, respectively, and Alabama is first in both.

What about the competition? Georgia has faced five teams ranked in the top 50 nationally in total offensive yards: Missouri (10), Notre Dame (22), Auburn (24), Appalachian State (49) and Mississippi State (50). But UGA has also faced four teams in the bottom 25 nationally: South Carolina (107), Florida (114), Vanderbilt (118) and Tennessee (125).

Looking ahead, Georgia’s opponents get progressively harder: Kentucky is only ranked 100th, Georgia Tech is 51st and then it’s either Alabama (19th) or Auburn (24th).

There’s never been much question about the talent on Georgia’s defense, especially the front seven. The pass rush and one-on-one pass coverage was a question, though not an outright concern when the defense was generally shutting things down.

Then everything broke down at Auburn, including the vaunted run defense.

“They played a good game. They’re a great team. They beat us fair and square,” Reed said. “We’ve just got to go back and make the corrections. We made a lot of mistakes out there.”

Smart said he had been worried about the tackling well before the Auburn game. He cited the defense losing a lot of one-on-one match-ups. There were also concerns about the play of the defensive line, according to Smart.

“We can play better. We have to strike and get off blocks, but every player on our team can do that,” Smart said. “It’s easy to look at a lot of the things that reared their head in the last game, they were in the game before and the game before that.  You may not have noticed them because the results weren’t the same.”

Now the results may have given Georgia’s defense a wake-up call, or reality check, or any of the terms being thrown around this week.

“The demeanor this week has been physical, Wildcat, toughness, strike people, get off blocks,” Smart said. “But that’s not a change in demeanor from previous weeks. We’ve just got to do it at a higher level.”

 

The post The question going forward about the Georgia defense appeared first on DawgNation.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Clemson shows its future is bright in win over The Citadel
Clemson shows its future is bright in win over The Citadel

Next to winning the game Saturday, what Clemson needed to do was keep its injury report from growing any longer than it already was. The Tigers did that and more, pasting The Citadel 61-3 on senior day in their final tune-up before traveling to South Carolina next week. Clemson was in charge from the start and didn’t fail...
What Gary Patterson said after TCU beat Texas Tech 27-3
What Gary Patterson said after TCU beat Texas Tech 27-3

TCU took down Texas Tech 27-3 on Saturday to stay in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title game. Here’s what coach Gary Patterson had to say after the win. “I told them I was proud of them.” “I told them, you have to decide if you want to be all in. There are players I remember through the years that I know...
What Gus Malzahn said: Tigers players, coaches ‘are going to be ready’ for Iron Bowl
What Gus Malzahn said: Tigers players, coaches ‘are going to be ready’ for Iron Bowl

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn hasn’t enjoyed an early morning game in a while and that trend continued as the Tigers downed ULM on Saturday. Gus Malzahn’s team started the day sluggish and never really flipped the switch in Jordan-Hare Stadium. With students home for Thanksgiving break and an epic Iron Bowl looming...
Gus Malzahn offers response to Arkansas rumors following Auburn’s win
Gus Malzahn offers response to Arkansas rumors following Auburn’s win

Gus Malzahn may be coaching his way to the SEC Championship game, but he’s doing so with whispers about a potential departure from Auburn following the regular season. In the days leading up to Auburn’s 42-14 win against Louisiana-Monroe, national football reporters and analysts such as ESPN’s Booger McFarland...
Kansas State owns extremely favorable record when scoring 1st under Bill Snyder
Kansas State owns extremely favorable record when scoring 1st under Bill Snyder

Kansas State football opened the scoring against No. 13 Oklahoma State on Saturday with a 5-yard touchdown rush from quarterback Sylar Thompson. If history is any indicator, getting on the board first may have been exactly what the Wildcats needed if they intend to pull off an upset in Stillwater, Okla. Under head coach Bill...
More Stories