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

Mark dawg-Odessa FL

September 22nd, 2009
6:37 am

Enter your comments here
D-Tech Fan and Saint Simons
If your brains were dynomite you would’nt be able to blow your nose.

ceph

September 22nd, 2009
7:02 am

why is everyone analyzing to death what is wrong with the defense. Every week it is a different scenario, not enough pressure, wrong coverage, dada, dada, dada. There is only one thing wrong with the defense and that is the guy coaching it!!!!!! These are things that Martinez has had five years to correct and it only gets worse. When Spurrier fired Zook he said. ” I looked at every programs defensive co-ordinator and Stoops stood out above everyone else so I went after Him” This is what Richt needs to do but, I am afraid it will never happen. Martinez made a statement in the spring that he didn’t look at other programs schemes because there is nothing wrong with his schemes> So if there is nothing wrong with his schemes then there must be something wrong with his coaching because there is no other alternative. UGA has great players (check how many are in the NFL) they just simply don’t know what to do under Martinez!!!!!

w

AltamahaDawg

September 22nd, 2009
7:16 am

On the positive, this is the second week in a row that the TEAM gave up a big lead early on pure mistakes and turnovers, fought back and by the middle of the third quarter, after getting a lead the defense did make the adjustments to basicaly stop the bleeding and gave up very little after that. That is new.

NC Dawg

September 22nd, 2009
7:37 am

Constant blitzing can’t fix a defense; if anything, it becomes so predictable that the blitz is relatively easy to scorch for big plays. What we need is an interior lineman or two who can manhandle the guy in front of him and get to the QB.

J Dub

September 22nd, 2009
9:13 am

Chris, I know its been a while since you posted, but when you said that College Gameday was supposed to be held at the site of the clear best matchup of the day, I agree with you and thought that was how it was supposed to be. That being said, with all of the controversy and hype, why would they not have had it in Gainesville for the Fla-TN game? Maybe on paper that wasn’t going to be a close game, but it turned out to be one, and you can’t match the intensity of that game with a Texas-TT game in my opinion. That is when I made up in my mind that they were only having gameday for ESPN or ABC affiliated games.

D&D fan

September 22nd, 2009
9:59 am

41 38 49 38 45 24 37 41 bank on it? Yea, just like the Loss to SC? Or like the loss to Arky? Keep your day job polishing door knobs, nerd turd.

Hey how’s that Hi-powered passing attack working out with your high school offensive scheme? What’s that you say; you got a mud hole stomped in your back side by LSU and Miami? And you have completely dropped off the national radar? Awwww, well don’t feel too bad; you should be used to this by now, I mean only one win in 7 years vs. your in-state rival really sux, but then you’re used to that too right? LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Gt the joke of GA gone national! LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

toole

September 22nd, 2009
10:04 am

Bryan Evans and Reshard Jones are killing us in the secondary. Evans is trying to find someone he can cover, but offensive lineman don’t go out for passes. Jones is so blood thirsty he doesn’t care if the pass is completed he wants to hit someone. Maybe we should move him to DE or LB. Move Evans out to the intramural fields. I hear some soroities need help in flag football. Maybe if Evans cut that 50 lbs of hair he might gain a step or two. Put Rambo back there. He has the speed and desire to play the position.

mdawg

September 22nd, 2009
10:09 am

J Dub, everytime college gameday has been in athens, we have lost. they are a distraction for the home team.

you ask why they would not have it in the UGA-FL game? because the game is rarely close.

fire willie now. im sure he can find a job at mcdonalds

Justin

September 22nd, 2009
10:27 am

“Geaux” = “G’est”

Kelly's a Dawg

September 22nd, 2009
10:37 am

Heck, maybe Cox can throw 8 touchdowns against Florida and our offense score, say, 78 points…then we won’t have to worry about our defense. Right, Bill?

Come on. The title of this article is what can be done about the defense, right? Anyone want to bench our first string players and let the second team play? Heck no. Even if you’re as loyal to Martinez as CMR, the answer is still the same…a change in DC is needed. Fire Martinez.

Ed

September 22nd, 2009
11:31 am

I agree with Tony. Even though we somehow won the SEC in ‘05, there were signs of hard times on defense to come. Such as…the complete lack of preparation at the start of the UF game when it was 14-0 before the seats were warm, then UF went ultra-conservative knowing that Joe T wasn’t going to beat them…the blown assignment that allowed Auburn to easily convert a 4th and long, setting up a chip-shot field goal, the complete meltdown in the first half of the Sugar Bowl against W. Va.

More of the same in ‘06 – surrendering long, time-consuming drives to the worst Colorado team in decades, second-half collapse against Tennessee, inability to make stops against Vandy and UK. On to ‘07, and another complete collapse against Tennessee, inability to stop UF even with the Howard sacks (thank God their defense was even worse that day), giving up big yards and points against what should have been an outmanned Troy team, etc. And of course, ‘08, and the collapse against Alabama, surrendering to UF at the first sign of adversity, and the complete lack of defensive resistance against a Tech team that ran the ball on every down.

What happened to “Finish the Drill?” I think that mentality left with BVG. We need to get it back if we are to contend for the SEC title again.

Dentaldawg

September 22nd, 2009
11:46 am

just keep winning, dawgs, and you can give up as many passing yards as you like! Go Dawgs!

Wise ol Dawg

September 22nd, 2009
12:18 pm

I still wonder what happened to all those star recruits UGA signed for so many years. If our defense is short of qualified help, just dip in that pool of stars that ostensibly are just sitting on the sidelines waiting for their number to be called. But, of course ’somebody’ might have been telling the same BIG FAT LIE year after year of recruiting average players, or even below average players.

Kendawg

September 22nd, 2009
1:32 pm

Cutting down on turnovers, especially those that give the opponent a short field, would help the defense immeasureably. It will be interesting to see if this is a point of emphasis against Arizona State.

BILLY JACK

September 22nd, 2009
4:28 pm

The secondary is clearly not being coached,players look confused and clearly dont know what coverage they are in.Corners are releasing with no safety help behind them and Bryan Evans lets recievers run by him once or twice a game for big plays.If UGA wins 10 games or so this year Willie still has to go.Kirby Smart the DC at Alabama needs to come back home.

Sanford Drive

September 22nd, 2009
7:56 pm

Blair Walsh, stop kicking it out of bounds

chazzo

September 23rd, 2009
7:37 am

Van Gorder was at the helm (at least defensive helm) of a very special team for his three season with the dogs. Spurrier ran off to the NFL. So, he didn’t face him at SC and only faced him at UF his first year. There was no Urban Meyer. Nick Saban was a LSU and ran up 34 points on us in the SEC championship. Alabama was at a crossroad all three of those years. The two years we played Bama, they were mediocre under Price and Shula and rang up 24 points or so on us. Tech had two different coaches, so he went against Chan Gailey’s first two offences. I liked Van Gorder. I liked his intensity. But, he was hardly a the god that some make him out to be. Bottom line, he never faced the fire power Willie faced last year and with half of his first string lost to injury.

Willie may not be the man. I will fully concede that someone else may be better. But, someone else may be worse, and making a any kind of major coaching change at this point in the season would most likely be disastrous. He is what we got, folks. I think we should all get behind him and our team and support them through this season.

I still say we end up in the top ten be season’s end. Go Dawgs!

Jeff

September 23rd, 2009
8:12 am

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((33-17 LMAO))))))))))))))))0ut of Polls))))))))LMAO………..GOOOOO St. Simons!

AceDawg

September 23rd, 2009
11:21 am

If talented players aren’t doing their job, you could argue that UGA recruited the wrong ones. I don’t believe that is the case though, so let’s not ignore the fact that the D-Coordinator is responsible for training the players to be prepared and properly execute a gameplan. Why in the heck do we need to stick to a traditional pass rush when we have lots of speed on defense? We ought to send more blitzing pressure and rely on team speed to make plays on the ball. Let’s have a little more man coverage where our fast cover guys can stick to one man and worry less about zone schemes. I know it ain’t that easy, but clearly UGA recruiting is at a higher level than UGA performance.

We shouldn’t be like a Ron Zook team with talent and no performance! Willie – good luck, and I hope things improve, but don’t be afraid to look for a fresh start somewhere else in 2010!!

atlfalcon

September 23rd, 2009
12:19 pm

lamar said…
“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!!!!!”

- Took the words right out of my mouth nice one.

chazzo

September 24th, 2009
2:57 pm

AceDawg,

Bad example man. Ron Zook’s underachieving team beat the Van Gorder D two years straight.