What can be done about the Georgia defense?

Dogs can stop the run but look clueless in pass coverage. (Associated Press)

Dogs can stop the run but look clueless in pass coverage. (Associated Press)

First, there’s no point in calling for Willie Martinez to be fired. Even if Mark Richt were to conclude a change is in order, he’s not going to do it three games into the season. If the situation is the same at season’s end, that’s the time for a change.

Secondly, as awful as the Dogs looked on pass defense the past two games, they’ve been pretty good against the run, pretty good in the red zone and decent on third down.

Against South Carolina, they simply gave too much of a cushion on receivers, allowing the Gamecocks to dink and dunk their way down the field. Against Arkansas, the problem was bigger: susceptibility to the long ball. And what made it worse was that so much of the time the receiver was virtually uncovered.

Macon/Columbus beat writer David Hale has an extremely lengthy but insightful dissection of the Georgia defensive problems at Bulldogs Blog. Essentially what it boils down to is poor fundamentals in pass coverage and lack of pressure on the quarterback.

As I said the other night, even if Martinez calls the right scheme, if the players on the field don’t execute it properly, you’re sunk. So it’s not all on the coordinator.

But as my brothers pointed out while we were discussing all this yesterday, when players are repeatedly not getting into the right coverage or don’t seem to know whether they should be playing the run or the pass, that ultimately means they’re not very well coached. And that falls on Martinez.

Obviously, Martinez and his staff need to figure out:

1. Why can’t Georgia consistently mount an effective pass rush? More specifically, why couldn’t the Dogs’ defensive front get to a fairly traditional stationary passer like Ryan Mallett? If the linemen we’re playing aren’t capable of getting more pressure on opposing QBs, do the Dogs need to shake up their lineup?

2. Why are so many receivers going uncovered?

It’s been suggested that instead of going with a stop-the-run-first mentality, that Martinez needs to drop more players back into coverage. It was notable that late Saturday night when Georgia did just that, they not only frustrated Mallett but they got to him. Yes, they gave up more running yards in the fourth quarter, but not enough to matter that much.

As a fan, I don’t know what the answer is. But I assume that, at least in a theoretical sense, the Georgia coaching staff does.

Now they need to not only institute whatever changes are in order, but light a fire under some of our underperforming defenders. Or perhaps bench a few folks. Could relatively inexperienced but eager backups do any worse than what the Dogs are getting now?

171 comments Add your comment

GW

September 21st, 2009
2:03 pm

I’d like to see more blitzing if for no other reason the backs and tight ends may stay in to block rather than running wide open drag routes, flats and curls.

Robert

September 21st, 2009
2:06 pm

LSU at Georgia – Oct. 3 – CBS – 3:30

Gameday?

BlackSmoke

September 21st, 2009
2:10 pm

I have been pleased with our run defense and the way we are swarming to the ball…but the pass defense needs major help. You’re exactly right Bill, gave too much cushion to Garcia and SC, then got toasted on the long ball against Mallett and ARK. Bryan Evans got absolutely smoked. Have you heard anything about Cuff and his injury? We need all the bodies we can get to be healthy back there!

J Dub

September 21st, 2009
2:10 pm

Robert, I may be wrong but I think that ESPN is only doing gameday now for games that they televise or their sister station ABC. Not positive on that though.

M, Ramble On, St Simons, G&G

September 21st, 2009
2:14 pm

(((((((( 33 – 17 )))))))))))))
hahahahahahahahahahahaha

To answer your question, I think we could bring back Van Gorder.

WaycrossDawg

September 21st, 2009
2:15 pm

Enter your comments here
Willie Martinez and the Touchdown Factory

Chris

September 21st, 2009
2:17 pm

J Dub
That’s been the trend so far this year hasn’t it? If it’s true, then it stinks. I understand the tie in but they caught lightning in a bottle with that show when they first broadcast from the Notre Dame campus some 20 years ago. It was meant to be the the site of the clear best matchup of the week.

WaycrossDawg

September 21st, 2009
2:20 pm

Is our defense Willie this bad?

Doyouknowshon

September 21st, 2009
2:21 pm

Bryan Evans has the Keith Brooking Disease. The only thing you ever see is the back of his jersey…

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
2:25 pm

The answer is to get the electric bass back in the band and play “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs”.

Saint Simons

September 21st, 2009
2:27 pm

(((((((( 45 – 42 )))))) hahahahahahahahahahaha

CyberDawg

September 21st, 2009
2:28 pm

As we know there are a lot of CWM haters out there. It’s just disappointing that they are so quick to complain and always blame the coaches and not the players. I just wish we knew how each player graded out after a game. At least then we would know if it was really the coaches or more on the players. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both, but considering that CMR defends WM so much I’ve got to believe much of the fault is the player execution on the field and not necessarily WM.

WaycrossDawg

September 21st, 2009
2:31 pm

Earth to CyberDawg, come in . . .

JB

September 21st, 2009
2:35 pm

devans@sports.uga.edu I just did……it’s a start………

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
2:36 pm

My guess Cyberdawg is that it is a little of both, but I only played sandlot football, what do I know?

Hicks

September 21st, 2009
2:39 pm

Yes the DBs are giving too much cushion and when defending on a deep pattern they never look back for the ball. They never have a clue where the ball is.

True Bulldog Fan

September 21st, 2009
2:41 pm

I know this is a silly question, but could they use Logan Gray as a defensive back? What ever happened to AJ Harmon?

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
2:43 pm

Start Arron Murray now! Joe Cox will never complete more than 69% of his passes or throw for over five touchdowns per game.

Sorry, I could not help myself.

uuugh...

September 21st, 2009
2:46 pm

Defense was horrible last year. We were told it was all the injuries and gave the guy in charge of that horrible defense a raise. Now we have less injuries and the defense is worse than last year!

This is why you don’t give a guy doing a bad job a raise…because he’ll want to do even worse the following year to earn another raise!

D Tech-Fan!

September 21st, 2009
2:49 pm

24-10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO Oklahoma State!

Big Bad John

September 21st, 2009
2:50 pm

Does anyone know what happened to Cuff when he went down with the leg injury?

MtnDawg

September 21st, 2009
2:54 pm

Unless Aaron Murray is ready to play in a SEC game, in NO WAY should Logan Gray EVER step onto a defense or special teams field. I hold my breath every time L.G. returns punts–even though he is just going to fair catch. If he ever takes a hit because some hot-headed special teams player for the other team makes a bonehead move and hits him anyway, well, he is a sitting duck!!

Saint Simons

September 21st, 2009
2:54 pm

(((((1-7)))))Hahahahahahahahahaha

T Rav

September 21st, 2009
2:55 pm

Enter your comments here

filtar21

September 21st, 2009
2:55 pm

hey True Logan Gray dosent sound bad on the “D”, A.J. Harmon is a backup on teh O-line. I had the same idea last year put harmon at the center of a 3-4 with and put owens or weston on the other side and put a rush end opposite and let georgia put 4 backers on the field and use our speed with the blitz. We need cox back there but i wonder what next season will be like bc if murray starts we are gonna be starting over again and maybe waster a.j. greens junior but final season.

Michael Scharff

September 21st, 2009
2:56 pm

I think that playing against such a tall and strong-armed opposing QB as Mallett would give most defenses fits – time will tell for Petrino and AK. It also didn’t help that they have a 6′3″ receiver. We are sorely lacking in size and speed in our secondary. And I would imagine that Bryan Evans is a nice enough young man, but I just don’t think he has the skills to be a first team SEC defender.

T Rav

September 21st, 2009
2:56 pm

J Dub shouldn’t you be working? Anyway we have got to step it up on DEF. Let’s go dawgs. Also, I’d like to report that the real Saint Simons is missing…..

MrDan

September 21st, 2009
2:56 pm

TOO MANY PENALTIES!!!!!!
When Coach Richt said after last season there would be some changes, I presumed he meant fewer penalties. Seriously, I believe the coaches are doing the best they can, the kids are doing the best they can. Both I’m sure will agree there’s some work to be done. Joe Cox, you’re a winner in my book! Go Dawgs!

UGA student

September 21st, 2009
2:58 pm

Cuff has an MCL sprain and is day to day. According to Claude Felton

AC in Boulder

September 21st, 2009
2:58 pm

cuff only has sprained mcl and they list him as day to day. thought he was gone for sure, so that’s good news…

Dooley

September 21st, 2009
2:59 pm

CWM basically needs to dial up a few more blitzes, and not panic. Obviously, CMR is NOT going to fire him during the season. If we have so many good atheletes, blitzing more should only help. Getting beat on long touchdown looks a lot better if there is a jailhouse blitz going on.

Blackberry Cobbler

September 21st, 2009
3:00 pm

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
2:25 pm

The answer is to get the electric bass back in the band and play “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs”.

No there’s a good idea. That would excite the crowd for sure and hopefully light a fire under the defense. I DARE UGA to try this. They don’t have the balls.

Blackberry Cobbler

September 21st, 2009
3:00 pm

Cuz

September 21st, 2009
2:25 pm

The answer is to get the electric bass back in the band and play “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs”.

Now there’s a good idea. That would excite the crowd for sure and hopefully light a fire under the defense. I DARE UGA to try this. They don’t have the balls.

Dawggongood

September 21st, 2009
3:02 pm

Bring us Bud foster!!! That would solve our defensive problems

Dawg fan for life

September 21st, 2009
3:03 pm

Yeah are pass D is getting torched every game. Who is responsible for coaching the secondary? Thats right Willie!! So my answer to our D’s problem “Free Willie” let him go and let someone else take over until the end of the year. He has got to be the worst D cordinator UGA has ever had. I think that the play of the players reflects the coaching they are getting. As the D cordinator and more importantly secondary coach it’s Willie’s job to instruct them on how much space to give the receivers and how to play the ball when it’s in the air. There are some pee wee coaches that could coach better than Willie. I don’t think its to early to call for willie to be fired, this has been going on for longer than just the first 3 games. Mark Richt buy a clue fire Martinez now!!!!!!

lamar

September 21st, 2009
3:03 pm

Any IDIOT can see that the defense is in the wrong formation. HOW MANY TIMESA HAVE YOU SEEN GA LINE UP ON RECEIVERS WITH A PRESS COVERAGE?? NEVER!! They line up 15 yds off the receivers & ALL THE QB HAS TO DO IS PITCH & CATCH!! MARTINEZ IS THE BIGGEST PIECE OF GARBAGE THAT EVER COACKED A DEFENSE! SINCE HE TOOK OVER GA HAS WENT DOWN HILL EVERY YEAR & THE SOONER HE IS KICKED TO THE CURB THE BETTER! HE IS A PATHETIC PIECE OF JUNK BUT DONT FORGET “” HE IS RICHTS BEST FRIEND”"! PATHETIC!!!!!

squat

September 21st, 2009
3:05 pm

33-17 hahahahaha….out of the top 25 hahahaha

Class of '98

September 21st, 2009
3:05 pm

YOUR BROTHERS pointed out to you that it is the coach’s responsibility to get the players in the right place at the right time?

Maybe one of them should be writing this blog.

EngrDawg

September 21st, 2009
3:06 pm

re:Robert

Gameday is going to be USC at Cal for Oct 3rd.
Personally I don’t want them to come back to Athens for a while..that was a disastrous showing last against Bama. Also, Don’t expect the Seiler’s to bring Uga on the set again.. not after Corso’s comment “thats an ugly dog! I”m picking Alabama!”

Dawggongood

September 21st, 2009
3:07 pm

Bring Bud Foster, I’m sure he would leave Va tech for the Dawgs!

AC

September 21st, 2009
3:08 pm

Sometimes I am ashamed to be a fan of UGA because of all the fans that overreact game in and game out. All I hear at games is that “Joe needs to go” or Willie “needs to be fired.” And if Richt doesn’t fire Willie, Richt needs to go. Yes, that is the answer. Get rid of one of the most succesful coaches in college football who runs a respected and classy football program.

Here are the facts.

Count’em, half of the points given up by the defense have been as a result of the defense having to play on a short field. Offenses are more aggressive and willing to take more chances. When offenses start deep in their terroritory, the defense does very well.

The defense has made plays when they needed too. Without the defense, we do not get back into both games we win.

We simply have had too many turnovers. Turnovers kill a defense.

Fact – We have a razor thin secondary with a lot of youth or inexperienced players. I think that Asher Allen’s early departure to the NFL will end up hurting UGA more than Stafford and Moreno. We do not have a physical corner. PERIOD.

Fact – Players have got to play. Yeah, I know that coaches have to coach them up, but it seems there are a lot of mistakes being made by the secondary.

Fact – We are not getting a pass rush. Which leads me to previous statement, players have got to play.

I think the defensive play calling has been conservative, but that may be by design because of the youth, inexperience and lack of play makers in the secondary. Hopefully, in a few weeks, that will change.

I am not by any means saying CWM does not need to go, I am just saying that it is not all his fault.

squat

September 21st, 2009
3:09 pm

corso is a idiot…he sux as much as lou..

EW

September 21st, 2009
3:11 pm

Saint Simons, what is GT ranked this week? Riiiiiggghhhtttt. Keep livin in the past, it’s so much less painful than reality.

Saint Simons

September 21st, 2009
3:11 pm

(((((( 33-17 )))))) boohooboohooboohooboohoo!!!!

FLA DAWG

September 21st, 2009
3:11 pm

Lighting a fire under players that are poorly coached causes more mistakes, points against us and penalties. Fix the problem first. If Richt had taken a clear look at the D problem last season and made the change then (as I and many others begged for) we wouldn’t have this mess right now.

I’m glad we’re 2 – 1 but we haven’t played anyone of caliber. I don’t even want to think about what UF is going to do to our D.

Dawg Props

September 21st, 2009
3:13 pm

In the offseason, Richt needs to fire martinez and offer Van Gorder huge money to coach the D back to where it should be. It may take $1-2 million, but UGA’s loaded with cash—money is no object! Martinez must go!

Will

September 21st, 2009
3:14 pm

I thought Marcus Washington and Sanders Commings would have much more of an impact on this defense. I was definitely wrong about that one. Sweet Willie barely plays them.

I also thought our CEO CMR would tell Coach Fabris to go stick his pooch kick-off scheme where the sun doesn’t shine. Again, dead wrong by me.

Finally, I thought we would be a better disciplined, less penalized unit. Boy am I a dumb-ass for thinking that. We are the NCAA version of the Oakland Raiders. Simply inexcusable.

But hey, were leading the SEC East at 2-0 and we control our own destiny to make it to Atlanta. So what more can you ask for?

Summit Dawg

September 21st, 2009
3:15 pm

Hey D Tech-Fan, why bring up Georgia/Oklahoma State score when you are still licking your wounds coming out of Miami????

FLA DAWG

September 21st, 2009
3:18 pm

MtnDawg,
I’ve been wondering the same thing. Why is Gray fielding punts? I keep waiting for some guy to absolutely cut him in half after a fair catch. He has great hands but is this all we’ll use him for?

EW

September 21st, 2009
3:19 pm

Just to follow up AC’s point

FACTS:
9 Arkansas possesions inside their own 40
5 punts
1 fumble
1 TD
1 FG
10 total points.

6 Arkansas possesions outside their own 40
1 punt
4 TDs
1 FG
31 total points

3 of these drives started after Ga TDs with the kickoffs going out of bounds or a big run back.
1 started after a fumbled punt return