One of the most common laments heard in Sanford Stadium last week was how much of a cushion Georgia’s defenders were giving South Carolina’s receivers and how open the middle of the Dogs’ zone defense was all night. It was particularly bad on some third-down plays when the Georgia defenders seemed willing to give up a first down just to prevent the long ball.
Well, at least the fans weren’t the only ones noticing how soft Willie Martinez’s zone was as Georgia yielded 313 yards in the air to Carolina. Martinez’s boss did, too. And Mark Richt says change is in order, Georgiadogs.com reports.
“It doesn’t matter if you play zone or man, there was too much space and not enough resistance,” Richt said of the Dogs’ defense against the Gamecocks. “We’ve got to squeeze the quarterback in the pocket and the receivers, too. Offensive football is about getting that space out there for the receivers and Coach [Steve] Spurrier is good at that and [Arkansas] Coach [Bobby] Petrino has proven that, too.”
Arkansas leads the SEC and is ranked second nationally in passing offense (447 yards per game), and they are second in the league and third nationally in total offense (591 yards per game). Although that’s based on one game against a weak Missouri State, Hogs QB Ryan Mallett has one of the stronger arms in college football. The Dogs could be in trouble Saturday if they play as far off Mallett’s receivers, particularly tight end D.J. Williams, as they did against South Carolina’s.
Let’s hope Richt’s words translate into action by Martinez.