ATHENS – It was a simple question that was posed to Georgia’s Jarvis Jones during a teleconference call with reporters on Monday. The sophomore outside linebacker was asked if he thought the Bulldogs’ defense was somewhat overshadowed by LSU’s and how he thought the two units stacked up.
Jones answered it quickly and honestly.
“I mean, everybody praises LSU defense, but I know we’ve got a pretty good defense,” said Jones, the SEC’s leader in quarterback sacks with 13.5. “We’re not cocky at all. We’re just going to play. We do our job and get after it on the field. We like having fun. We love playing football. We’re aggressive. We play just as well as them. A lot of people don’t give us credit [for] how we play. I think we play two different styles.”
Then came the line that caught everybody’s attention.
Said Jones: “I think our defense is just as good as theirs, if not better.”
That statement, tweeted out by several reporters, reverberated all the way to Baton Rouge. LSU wide receiver Russell Shephard quickly noticed it on Twitter and forwarded it to his teammates with the message, “is this guy serious?” That was followed by more than a few “ha-ha’s” and multiple exclamation points.
Suddenly, a little interleague argument has developed between the teams about which one has the best defense. Not surprisingly, Jones’ teammates have come to his defense, so to speak.
“He said it, so I’m going to back him up,” Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said. “I’m going to be right there with him. That’s my brother, that’s my family, so whatever he says we’re all going to back him up. . . . I also can say I believe we have one of the best defenses in the country, right up there with the LSUs. We have some very talented guys on the defensive side of the ball, too, and I can back it up when I say that.”
Said junior linebacker Christian Robinson: “Look at the numbers. We’re hanging. We’re up there in numbers, too. If we go out there and do what we’re supposed to do on this Saturday, we can end up better than they are not just in the numbers but by winning the game. You don’t want to get into word battles, but if they want to go and say things like [Shephard said], that’s the worse thing to do. There has been a lot of teams that go out there and run their mouth a lot and get beat.”
LSU is ranked slightly ahead of Georgia in every major defensive category and the Tigers have done it against a tougher overall schedule. But the Bulldogs are no slouches. They, too, rank as a Top 10 defense. Following are the latest national rankings:
3——-Pass Eff. D———-4
The one thing Georgia feels it may have going for it on Saturday is a more diversified offense. The Tigers are very much a run-first offense while the Bulldogs throw the ball a little more. Georgia feels the Tigers’ propensity for wanting to run the ball straight at opponents with their bevy of big backs and dare them to stop it actually plays into its hands.
“They’re not going to go away from their game scheme, so we’ve just got to bow up,” Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said. “We’ve got to keep attacking and making tackles and not allow big plays. We know they’re going to run the ball, so we’ve just got to be prepared for it.”
Said Robinson: “I think we’ve shown we can hang with teams that run it. Auburn relied heavily on the run and we shut them down. LSU is not shy about their run game. That’s all they want to do and then they’ve got some receivers that can go get it. So we’ll take the challenge, not in a cocky way, but we can hang. So we’ll be ready.”
Said Jones: “It’s a challenge for us as a defense. But you always want to be challenged and you want to step up accomplish those challenges. So it’s going to be a big day for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
An intriguing matchup just got more intriguing, don’t you think?