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

Hawks - again - transfer White from G League
Hawks - again - transfer White from G League

The Hawks just might set a record for number of transactions with their G League affiliate. For the fourth time in four days, the Hawks made a roster move involving forward Andrew White, who is on a two-way contract, moving to and from the Erie (Pa.) BayHawks. White was transferred to Atlanta on Monday ahead of a five-game western road trip that begins...
Sam Darnold will throw at USC pro day despite predicted rain
Sam Darnold will throw at USC pro day despite predicted rain

It never rains in Southern California. At least that’s what Tony Toni Tone. We now know that not to be true. USC quarterback Sam Darnold might deal with rainy conditions on Wednesday. Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday in Los Angeles. Rain or shine, Darnold will throw at the USC Pro Day, according to ESPN&rsquo...
Report: Tennessee hosts grad-transfer CB Terrence Alexander over the weekend
Report: Tennessee hosts grad-transfer CB Terrence Alexander over the weekend

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said the Vols addressed their need at cornerback on National Signing Day, but it appears the Vols have reconsidered the stance. Tennessee hosted Stanford graduate transfer cornerback Terrence Alexander over the weekend, according to Austin Price of Volquest. The 5-foot-10, 187-pound Alexander...
Former Indiana WR Cody Latimer to sign with Giants
Former Indiana WR Cody Latimer to sign with Giants

Georgia QB Jake Fromm working to build on stellar opening act in 2018
Georgia QB Jake Fromm working to build on stellar opening act in 2018

ATHENS – To see Jake Fromm in street clothes these days is to wonder if this guy still plans to play quarterback. His physique says he’d make a pretty good tight end now, or perhaps a pass rusher on defense. His arms suggest he has been lifting something heavier than a leather football. And he has. Though he looks...
More Stories