Notebook: Defensive numbers not what Georgia expected

ATHENS — Forty-sixth, 42nd, 57th and 43rd.

That’s Georgia’s national rank in scoring defense (21.0 ppg), total defense (345.3ypg), rushing defense (145.3 ypg) and pass defense (200 ypg), respectively, heading into Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.

It’s safe to say that’s not where the Bulldogs expected to be at this point of the season, especially when two of their first three opponents happened to be Buffalo and Florida Atlantic. They came into the season nine starters returning from a unit that finished fifth in the nation in total defense last year.

But the Bulldogs’ defenders remain confident and prefer to point instead to the number in the team’s win column.

“Me personally, I know how good we are,” junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “Some of the numbers that y’all see, I know they’re not the greatest and they’re not like they were last year, but it’s still early. We haven’t done a lot on defense as far as a lot of our packages and stuff like that. So we’ve still got a lot to put in and there are still a lot of plays out there to be made. It’s just the fourth game of the season.”

It will also be the fourth consecutive game in which the Bulldogs haven’t had their full complement of starters on the field. Four returning starters missed the first two games due to suspensions and two more – All-America free safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree – will remain out for one more week.

That’s at least partially to blame for Georgia giving up such an inordinate number of big plays in the early going. In three games the Bulldogs already have given up six plays of 36 or more yards, including scoring plays of 69, 43 and 41 yards.

The Bulldogs say it hasn’t been the absence of the suspended players’ skill sets as much as it has missing their experience of playing together.

“When you blitz and you don’t cover every gap, you are exposed to something popping like it did on that run,” coach Mark Richt said of Florida Atlantic’s 43-yard touchdown run on a dive play. ““We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to be to be a little bit smarter and be a little better fundamentally.”

Said linebacker Mike Gilliard: “I feel like we’ve got a lot of new faces out there and a lot of it has just been miscommunication and missed assignments. Right now we’re working on that every day. We’re out here trying to fix things like that that one big play could be what causes you to lose the game.”

The positive for Georgia’s defense is it has made good adjustments at halftime. The Bulldogs are allowing an average of 7.7 points in the second half this season. And they’ll be down to just two absentees for Vanderbilt this week.

“As the young guys learn, it’s going to make us that much better as our whole defense, our whole group of starters, is on the field at one time,” said Jones, who missed last Saturday’s game with a strained groin.” That has yet to be. But when it does I think it’s going to be something special.”

Jones now No. 1 NFL prospect

Speaking of Jones, the Bulldogs’ junior linebacker moved up from second to first on Mel Kiper’s “Big Board of 2013 NFL draft prediction. Kiper had Jones as a first-rounder as a redshirt sophomore last year when Jones opted to come back for another year.

Asked if he was already resigned to losing Jones after this season, Richt laughed. “I’d be excited for Jarvis to get drafted that high,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when. But when that day comes I’ll be genuinely thrilled for him.”

O-line taking shape

Starting left guard Dallas Lee (sprained left ankle) remained in a green jersey and mostly ran on the side during Wednesday’s practice. However, he was able to get scrimmage work against the scout team and seems likely to play Saturday.

“I’d guess there’s a good chance but it’s not guaranteed,” Richt said. “You’d had to measure a gimpy Lee against a healthy [Mark] Beard.

When Lee is not in the game, the Bulldogs will move left tackle Kenarious Gates inside to guard and bring in Beard, a first-year junior college transfer, to play left tackle. That’s what they did this past Saturday when Lee went out in the second quarter.

“Beard played good enough to prove that he can get in there,” Richt said. “So we might rotate them around in there.”

Calling all punt returners

Georgia continues to experiment with punt returners. The Bulldogs have used four in three games – Damian Swann, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Rhett McGowan — and haven’t been particularly pleased with any of them. They’re averaging just 8.8 yards a return and haven’t been making good decisions with regard to when to field, fair catch or return.

“The main thing is that we’re looking for a guy who will field the ball and communicate well,” Richt said. “So I think we’re still searching for that. But it’s a tough job.”

Etc. . . .

Richt said the No. 1 defense, after “not looking too sporty” against the No. 2 offense on Tuesday, was much better on Wednesday. The unit went 8-for-8 in holding the offense scoreless. . . . Richt said sophomore offensive lineman Kolton Houston still has not been cleared to play by the NCAA. . . . Offensive lineman Watts Dantzler (ankle), outside linebackers Josh Dawson (shoulder) and James DeLoach (shoulder) and wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (knee) were limited and/or held out of contact on Wednesday. . . . Asked again by a reporter on Wednesday’s SEC coaches’ teleconference if his team would be motivated by last year’s post-game incident against Georgia, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin quipped, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” . . . UGA coach legend Vince Dooley will be the featured speaker and will sign books today at the Atlanta Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon at The Commerce Club at 191 Peachtree. Tickets are $30 and registration begins at 11:15 a.m.

MORE ON GEORGIA FOOTBALL

254 comments Add your comment

Dawgs 32

September 19th, 2012
8:09 pm

Tim-Buck-Two

September 19th, 2012
8:13 pm

Coach Grantham will have the “D” ready for Vandy…
Remember, it’s just VANDY for Gawd’s sakes!
GO DAWGS! GATA!!!

Dawgs 32

September 19th, 2012
8:14 pm

Once the SEC play starts Saturday the D will start to gel……I think the team will have a little more fire once they see better competition.

Vince Dooley

September 19th, 2012
8:18 pm

Sitting here watching this putrid Buffalo offense against Kent State and wondering how our defense gave up 20+ points to these louts. Having said that, when you’re missing 4 starters, all of whom will play on Sundays, that’s going to hurt production a wee bit ;)

GADawginAL

September 19th, 2012
8:23 pm

The team needs all its offensive linemen healthly. Looking forward to seeing a healthy first and second unit. I believe it would make a hugh difference in the the run and pass game in SEC play. GO DAWGS!!

Dawglasville

September 19th, 2012
8:23 pm

This thing with Houston is almost comical. What in the hell are they waiting for? Either tell the kid he can’t play until…, tell him he is banned, or let the kid play. Why is this so complicated?

ARdawg

September 19th, 2012
8:26 pm

I’m with Jarvis, I’m not sweating the defense and have a good feeling of what is yet to come.

Furthermore, I believe those two cupcake games even though we gave up some nice chunks of yardage might actually be beneficial. Finding weaknesses to fill against lesser opponents is the place to do that. Grantam has proved he’ll adjust at halftime. Vandy will be a different animal, we need to be tweaked at game time from here on out.

Roadrunner

September 19th, 2012
8:37 pm

Eighth….Sorry I couldn’t resist.

Joe Dirt UGA fan

September 19th, 2012
8:39 pm

Is it bad that Kent State is keeping Buffalo at 7 at half time, and they only got that 7 on a hail mary?

Dr.P

September 19th, 2012
8:39 pm

I’m not buying the excuses.

Excuse #1- Suspended players are blame for poor games
a) Florida Atlantic barely scored on anyone all season, and somehow put up 20 points against UGA.
b) Commings & Vasser were both back for the Fla Atl game, and Fla Atl scored 20 points. And made almost every 3rd down conversion, in fact, 3rd down conversions got WORSE with Commings & Vasser back.
c) suspended players like Rambo & Ogletree are missing key reps at practice, and they’ll be rusty when they return for the Tenn & SC & UF games like Commings & Vasser were.

Excuse #2- Not showing full package of defensive plays
a) UGA has faced 2 of the worst offenses in the NCAA, and yield @22 points per game. It’s not like these teams are powerhouses. Should have been two shutouts.
b) If Grantham was simplfying packages, why did the team looked so confused in both first halfs, that UGA is now ranked #88 in first half rush defense, and #89 in first half pass defense? I think just the opposite happened, Grantham through too much on the new guys, and they didn’t know their assignments. A few base defenses, executed with excellence, would have resulted in two shutouts. But complex schemes and too many formations thrown on the new guys, executed pathetically, leads to @22 points per game.

Excuse #3- Making great adjustments at halftime
a) I’d attribute this more to depth, then Grantham’s adjustments. Look at how Grantham adjusted at halftime in big games in 2011 like Boise, SC, LSU, and Mich St and you’ll see the truth there. When teams with equal defensive depth roll up on the schedule like SC, Tenn, UF, you can’t win with depth anymore. How many points did LSU score in the second half of the SEC Championship?
b) The other problem with the defense taking the first half off, is when Richt gets behind at halftime in the score, his win % drops from 89% to 40%. So when UGA runs up against offenses that excel in the first half, like Vandy’s #1 SEC ranked first half rush offense, or Tenn’s #1 ranked SEC pass offense, they’ll be able to run up the lead on UGA by halftime, and decrease Richt’s chance of winning from 89% to 40%. by thetime Grantham’s defense decides to play, it will be too late. The offense will have to abandon the run, and we all know how Murray does when that happens.

Roadrunner

September 19th, 2012
8:41 pm

Seriously though, I’m glad we didn’t start the year with a bunch of top 20 teams. Its given us time to come together as a team without a loss. That said, its time to play like we think we’re good enough to play for at least most of the 60 minutes. We can’t take the first quarter or two off against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida, Tech and others and expect the same results. Georgia is a really good team, time will tell if we’re a really great team. GO DAWGS!!!

CC

September 19th, 2012
8:50 pm

The defense is doing great considering 4 starters missed the first 2 games.

b1gger

September 19th, 2012
8:51 pm

Dr. P, Why don’t you go find a team you do like, I’m tired of hearing your beocthing!

BobDog

September 19th, 2012
9:00 pm

@Dr. P

Just curious, is there anything you are happy about?

Building depth on the O line with Beard.

Jarvis possible #1 overall draft choice.

We are 3 and 0

JRDP

September 19th, 2012
9:06 pm

Dr. P
Isn’t it time to put on your Star Trek pajamas and get back to studying  ENME 301 Structure and Properties of  Engineering. Materials?

RedDawg

September 19th, 2012
9:15 pm

Hell i just say lets out score them. Go Dawgs!

FLA DAWG

September 19th, 2012
9:16 pm

Certainly The Dawgs have not performed well this season on D.
The only test came vs Mizzou in the 4th qtr and they performed quite well.

It looks like we have another 1980, “Bend But Don’t Break” D………….and that will be fine with me.

The D will stuff Vandy this Sat and the O will score almost at will.

Dawgs win by 21.

FLA DAWG

September 19th, 2012
9:19 pm

DrPee,
Do you realize that no one reads your posts?
I see a book typed by you above but no one is reading it.

Get it!?

GT Fans………..well, that’s all ya gotta say.

Yomamma22

September 19th, 2012
9:26 pm

Why haven’t we seen branden smith as the punt returner and or kick off?

mdc33

September 19th, 2012
9:32 pm

Dr P the D dindt give 20 on FAU it was 14.. yes it was an ugly 14 but lemay gave up 6. Itoo am concerned with our slow starts and watching ALA i dont see them them ever letting down. it makes wonder about our preperation and the teams moxie…

Joe

September 19th, 2012
9:37 pm

Why haven’t we used Branden Smith at punt returner? He has a good bit of experience back there and is explosive.

Chas Henry

September 19th, 2012
9:40 pm

mdc33

September 19th, 2012
9:41 pm

i would suppose we are saving him for the real games…

Dawg Haus

September 19th, 2012
9:53 pm

That’s a good question, Joe. I was wondering if B. Smith had been doing a bad job in practice or something. I think he’s the best option to return punts.

William

September 19th, 2012
9:55 pm

I am concerned about the defense as well. What is the main problem? We might not be good on defense. Have we thought of that. We are an average team. Good but not great. 10-2 or 9-3 should be about right. I don’t see much better. I will shocked if we do better. Coach of the year if we go 11-1.

Neutral

September 19th, 2012
10:04 pm

Dr.Pee,
We’re 3-0 and ranked in the top 5. Obviously the experts think you don’t have a clue!!!

joe jenkins

September 19th, 2012
10:09 pm

I agree with DR P…..What has grantham proven against ranked teams….we look slow and confused…abry jones and corn washingtion are not making plays…we need ray drew to step it up…..we need to move corn back to OLB…and put garrison smith in his place….I didn’t think we would miss boykin and tyson this bad but we do.We should of held buffalo and the owls to 6 points a piece….I don’t know why we are running a bend but don’t break…I guess grantham doesn’t want to leave the unproven secondary out on a island with blitzing…..I think the dawgs give up 24 points to vandy this sat and we win by only 10points

Under The Bleachers

September 19th, 2012
10:09 pm

Kent St has held a Buffalo( The same Buffalo Team that UGA gave up 23 points to) to 7 points.

Under The Bleachers

September 19th, 2012
10:11 pm

Neutral

September 19th, 2012
10:04 pm
Dr.Pee,
We’re 3-0 and ranked in the top 5. Obviously the experts think you don’t have a clue!!!

Those same experts had USC No.1 Preseason and No.2 until last week.
You know what that No. 5 ranking means? Nothing….

Mookie

September 19th, 2012
10:12 pm

It is a sign of poor coaching every year when it takes 4 games before you can line up and start playing without shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t see Saban teams do that. Spurrier just suspends players but puts them back on the starting line-up on game days.

Dr.P

September 19th, 2012
10:13 pm

In 2011, when opponents scored 30 or more points, UGA went 0-4.
In 2011, when opponents scored 29 or less points, UGA went 10-0.

When you consider UGA is aloowing 22 points per game average, against teams like Fla Atl & Buffalo, it’s not a stretch to see teams like Vandy, Tenn, SC, UF, Aub, GT, scoring 1 more td, or 30 points a game, on UGA.

After all, Boise, SC, LSU, and Mich St all scored 33-45 points on UGA last season.

It’s not all on the defense. Murray tends to commit turnovers as the competition level increases, and special teams (UGA has no full time special teams coach) tend to give up big plays as competition levels rise. So it will be interesting to see how Murray performs over the next 5 weeks against teams like SC, Tenn & UF, and how the special teams perform—without a full time special teams coach.

joe jenkins

September 19th, 2012
10:14 pm

hey william you are an complete moron…to think we are not any good on defense. we have all the talent in the world…they are just not being accordianly….I wish we could of gotten kirby smart…grantham has alot to prove

Joe Dirt UGA fan

September 19th, 2012
10:19 pm

Wow… Even Kent State held Buffalo held to only 7 points. DANG!

joe jenkins

September 19th, 2012
10:30 pm

Their is just no consistancy with this program…last year we were 5 in the nation in defense and just look where we are now…grantham is overated

Dr.P

September 19th, 2012
10:38 pm

Vanderbilt’s special teams coach took UGA to the woodshed last year, wonder what he’s cooked up in the off-season for this weekend? Vandy will be a great test for the special teams, should Vandy make a few big plays in special teams, could be an upset.

Vandy has also only lost 3 turnovers, where UGA has lost 6 turnovers, so look for Vandy to attempt to force turnovers with a vengance. I would expect to see Vandy go 2 safeties deep to try and pick 1 or 2 long passes. Look for Vandy to jump slant routes to try and get a pick, and to drop some guys in zone blitz to try and get an int. I would also expect to see Vandy flying to the ball when the UGA backs fumble on those inside toss runs. I expect Vandy to test the young OLinemen in the first half when they are the most nervous, to see if they can get them to jump offsides again, especially look for pre-snap movement on the dlines on 3rd downs.

You can expect Vandy’s QB to run on 3rd downs where Grantham’s schemes have been exposed, and also expect the 2 runningbacks, who both average over 7.5 yards per carry, to have big first halfs as they are ranked #1 in SEC first half rush offense and UGA is ranked #88 in first half rush defense, it’s a HUGE mismatch Vandy will try and exploit. If Vandy calls the right plays on UGA blitzes, you can really burn UGA for big plays on blitzes, as Grantham is too agressive and tends to expose his secondary with high risk blitzes and get burned for big plays.

Under The Bleachers

September 19th, 2012
10:39 pm

How about UGA’s turnover margin @ -0.33 per game.. That will get you beat in a close game.

Slaw dawg

September 19th, 2012
10:44 pm

If your going to call someone a moron, at least learn how to spell so you don’t look like one yourself.

ARdawg

September 19th, 2012
10:48 pm

The dawgs need 1 more point than the opposition and guess what? They did their job. The stats are impressive to nerds

Under The Bleachers

September 19th, 2012
10:53 pm

ARdawg

September 19th, 2012
10:48 pm
The dawgs need 1 more point than the opposition and guess what? They did their job. The stats are impressive to nerds

I see your point, but those “Nerds” are the ones programming those computer models that play a 1/3 of the BCS rankings which come out in about 4 weeks.

Under The Bleachers

September 19th, 2012
10:56 pm

Sagarin( ONE of those NERDS) has UGA in the 20’s for a ranking this week, and as SOS of 138 or so. Once UGA gets USC, TN, FL that number will drop but UGA will need some people in front of them to lose to gain traction, starting this weekend when Clemson visits FSU.

jj

September 19th, 2012
11:07 pm

Only stat that matters. 3-0. 1-0 in SEC.

ARdawg

September 19th, 2012
11:07 pm

Under the bleachers
At this point I disagree with you. “Style” points are important at this point in the season (3 games). It would be great to have a defense that just shut everyone down but, it’s not the end all, at this juncture. Winning convincingly has turned heads so far. Entering into the conference schedule style points and a dominating defense will register more with voters (most of which are nerds) granted

GB's Hamburgers

September 19th, 2012
11:11 pm

One difference this year is the noticeable half-time adjustments. In prior years the opposing team’s coaches were the ones making the right adjustments. So this is a positive turnaround.

daddo

September 19th, 2012
11:21 pm

Tick, tick, tick…only a matter of time before your offensive and defensive lines are exposed. Easy schedule has created an illusion of progress. Same ole Georgia. Same ole coaches. Nothing has changed. Nothing.

Top Row Dawg

September 19th, 2012
11:38 pm

The more jealous hate shown on here, the better Georgia must be doing. #5 and rolling so far. The more frustrated the trolls become, the more I enjoy their post. It’s been heaven, all the jealous hate so far. Keep it coming boy’s, the men of Georgia march on and type what you want on your keyboard, what happens on the field is all that matters.

No regrets.

Dr.P

September 20th, 2012
12:11 am

Vandy special teams put on a clinic last year against UGA:
1) Vandy executed a fake punt
2) Vandy returned a kickoff for a touchdown
3) UGA missed two field goals
4) Vandy blocked a punt at the end to just miss winning the game.

Vandy also put up 200+ rushing yards on Grantham last year with Rambo, Commings, Vasser and Ogletree all playing.

Pj

September 20th, 2012
12:13 am

When fully stocked, the uga D will shut down everyone. Two first rounders at linebacker. 2 safety’s projected to go before end of second round, a d tacked who will go top 10 and b smith, abry and Cornelius projected to go somewhere later in the draft. That’s 8 nfl draft picks in the NEXT draft. M Mitchell, commings, Herrera and geathers will all be in the league eventually – so we are up to 12. Ray drew, jordan Jenkins and josh Harvey have years to go, but nfl potential.
Point: they haven’t played with a full lineup yet and in game 1 and 3 they schemed vanilla.
Only statistic one should care about is win loss record – and around 11 pm Saturday, we’ll be 4-0

[...] The No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs look to improve to 4-0 as they host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday. Like any football team, they prepare for the game dealing with a number of injuries. The Georgia injury report is below, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. [...]

7576DAWG

September 20th, 2012
12:34 am

Under The Bleachers
I don’t quite understand the point you are making. Georgia had four starters out on defense plus , I think Mitchell either missed the Buffalo game or wasn’t at full speed. We scored 45 points and could have run up the score another 14 easily. So our Freshmen missed a few assignment that led to a score.

dbc

September 20th, 2012
12:51 am

Well I’m glad they’re upset with the stats with a 3-0 record. I think these boys have the drive to improve every week. Time will tell. I think they all know they can have a special season — but even 1 loss will ruin that good feeling. Hopefully they have it covered. If Vandy scores more than 14, we’re in for a fight the rest of the season IMHO.