In 2006, when a 7-4 and unranked Georgia team defeated a 9-2 and 16th ranked Georgia Tech team, it wasn’t difficult to figure out why. The Dogs’ defense rattled Reggie Ball, the oft-rattled quarterback, who went 6-for-22 with two interceptions and a fumble.
“That was our goal from Day 1,” defensive tackle Ray Gant said afterward. “As soon as we started game-planning Tech, shake Reggie.”
The biggest reason not to expect an upset next Saturday when Georgia goes to North Ave? The Dogs’ defense seldom rattles anybody any more.
If this is another indictment of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, so be it. We watched Kentucky score four second-half touchdowns Saturday night, and even though two of those scores were set up by turnovers, the game illustrated Georgia’s lack of ability to make a play when it matters.
Question: Do you see Martinez putting together a game plan and inspiring a defense to the point that the Dogs can either: 1) rattle Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt into making mistakes, or, 2) slow an offense that is among the nation’s per-game leaders in yardage (449.6) and points (36)? I don’t.
Here’s a stat for you: If you throw out the Vanderbilt and Tennessee Tech games, Georgia has allowed an average of 31.4 points in its other nine games. Martinez might want to keep that off his resume.
Can Georgia put up points against Tech? Yes. But as much as the Jackets’ defense has struggled this season, it also has shown an ability to make adjustments and make plays when it has had to. (Another stat: The Jackets have allowed only one second-half touchdown in the last four games). The Dogs probably had a better defense a year ago, when Tech torched them for 409 rushing yards and five offensive TDs.
I suppose there’s something to be said for this being a rivalry game and Georgia players wanting to finish the season (pre-bowl) on a high note. But it’s hard to imagine any breakthrough coming now.