It wasn’t as big a factor as turnovers, but the Dogs have been plagued the past couple of seasons by poor tackling.
Flipping through some of my little game notebooks from last year, a frequent theme crops up: “Missed tackle.” “Poor tackling.”
Too often you saw Georgia defenders try to make a tackle from a bad angle or not wrap their arms and stick their heads into the chest of the ball carrier and drive them down. And then there were those awful occasions where they didn’t even really try to make an actual tackle, just hitting or bumping the guy as if that would make him fall down.
There’d be some improvement from game to game, but overall it was a team weakness under Willie Martinez’s staff, a point made this week in practice by coach Warren Belin in a quote that has lit up the blogosphere: “Where did you guys learn to tackle the last five years?”
Ouch. You know Mark Richt had to wince when he saw that reported. I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why head coaches generally only let the media have limited access to practice.
Fans, of course, react differently. You can’t fix a problem unless you acknowledge it, and it’s encouraging to hear someone addressing the situation head on.
And that’s the good news from all this: The new coaches appear to be trying to do something about it.
Fletcher Page reports in his practice notes on DawgPost.com that it “seems like the defensive coaches are determined to get Georgia tackling better. Coach Warren Belin has been especially adamant about driving through the ball carrier … There has been added emphasis put on proper tackling technique. Coach [Scott] Lakatos likes physicality in the secondary. We know coach [Todd] Grantham is all about it as well. The staff is working from the ground up, developing proper technique and fundamentals first. Belin, I’ve especially noticed, is meticulous about the little things. He preaches proper helmet placement, driving through the ball, proper way to wrap up while driving, etc. This type of conversation should excite Bulldogs fans.”
That’s an understatement.
NO EXCUSES FOR DOGS IN 2010?
CollegeFootballNews.com’s spring preview of Georgia notes that the Dogs “have to find more explosion and more production on offense” and the big spring question is “can the defense be more aggressive?” The most important question, they say, is who will start at quarterback, noting “in a perfect world, this is figured out and settled on as soon as possible.”
But CFN’s overall assessment of Georgia’s prospects sees a lot of potential this season: “No excuses. Georgia isn’t as talented as Florida, but it’s easily the second best team in the [SEC] East and it has the schedule to do some very big things. While there’s a lot of work to be done and there are a lot of concerns, the schedule is too light to ask for anything less than a big season with the toughest road games at South Carolina and Auburn. The Dawgs miss Alabama and LSU from the West and get Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech at home. Again, no excuses.”
What do you think? On the money, or too optimistic?