Georgia defenders: ‘Only stat that matters is our 5-0 record’

ATHENS – Despite reports to the contrary, Georgia is sporting a Top 10 defense this season. It’s just not the top-10 ranking everybody expected.

Heading into Saturday’s monumental matchup with No. 6-ranked South Carolina in Columbia, the Bulldogs are ranked 10th in the Southeastern Conference in total defense. That’s 10th as in 10 among 14 teams. Not 10th in the nation, as everybody expected this year.

The good news is Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) arrives at the midway point of the season with an unblemished record and a No. 5 overall ranking in the national polls. They’ve just done it with its vaunted defense looking nearly as dominant as was expected.

And now the biggest question mark for the Bulldogs heading into the most anticipated game of the season is, what in the world is going on with your defense?

“It definitely hasn’t gone the way we wanted,” senior defensive end Abry Jones said. “But I think we’ve been strong in the second halves of games and strong in the fourth quarter and we’ve been still coming away with wins. That’s the most important thing to us.”

Jones’ answer is typical of what was offered from pretty much anyone who works inside the Bulldogs’ football complex. That is, Georgia is pretty defensive about its defense.

And it has had its share of conquests. While the Bulldogs have been a bit of a statistical anomaly on that side of the ball, they’ve tended to make important plays at important times.

Case in point, this past weekend’s game against Tennessee. The Vols’ high-powered offense gashed Georgia for 197 yards rushing and 478 overall. But with the game on the line in the final minutes, the Bulldogs forced them into a pair of interceptions and a fumble.

Georgia was similarly opportunistic at the end of its game against Missouri, which had hit it with 371 yards on the night. An interception and a forced fumble at the end allowed the Bulldogs put away a 41-20 victory.

“[Coming into the season] people wanted to talk about whether this was going to be a great defense. But what I said from the beginning was what I’m most concerned about is when the game is on the line are we going to be able to make the play in the moment of truth?” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “ You can have great defensive stats, but if you didn’t get that one stop at the end of the game, you still might have great stats for the day but you lost. You didn’t stop them when you needed to. I was more concerned about are we going to stop people when we have to stop them, when it means the most. “

With the exception of Tennessee, which may have the SEC’s most explosive offense, Georgia hasn’t faced many offensive juggernauts. That’s what makes its defensive numbers so hard to fathom.

The Bulldogs are ninth in the league against the run (147.8 ypg), 10th against the pass (222.4 ypg), 10th overall (370.2 ypg) and 7th against the score (22.0 ppg). That’s a long way from where Georgia ended last season. The Bulldogs finished 2011 ranked fifth nationally in total defense (277.2), 11th in rushing (101.2) and 23rd in scoring (20.6).

Georgia was returning nine starters from that unit, and 12 of the top 14 tacklers.

“I feel fine about the way we’re playing,”  Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I understand the issues we’re having. Better yet, I think the players understand the reasons why things happen. They’re very self-correctable.”

Personnel availability certainly has been one issue. The Bulldogs were without All-America free safety Bacarri Rambo and star linebacker Alec Ogletree until last week due to four-game suspensions. Two other starters missed the first two games with suspension and injuries have sidelined All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones defensive ends Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington and noseguard John Jenkins for all or parts of other games.

While the suspended players were able to practice, players contend it’s not the same as playing games. They expect to play considerably better

“The amount of time we got to practice together was limited because we had to get the guys ready that were going to be playing in the games,” said senior cornerback Sanders Commings, who missed the first two games due to a suspension. “But now we’ve got that first game together under our belt and it’s only going to get better from here. We’re not going backwards.”

The absences have required constant lineup shuffles. Receiver Malcolm Mitchell started three games at cornerback; Devin Bowman started one game at corner; Commings played two games at safety, one at corner; Connor Norman started two games at safety; Amarlo Herrera started four games at “Mo” inside linebacker but played the “Mike” position this past week with Ogletree back in the fold.

“I think the newness of the positions some guys played as well as being out there for the first time after four games off has had something to do with it,” Grantham said. “I think as we move forward will we’ll become a little more consistent. Once that happens we’ll start jelling and we’ll be fine.”

That Georgia is still trying to “jell” defensively at the midpoint of the season is not a good thing. It’s especially troubling with a matchup such as the one with South Carolina on the horizon.

The Gamecocks don’t blow away anybody with their offensive firepower or quick-strike capability. But the combination of dual-threat quarterback Connor Shaw and the unstoppable force that is tailback Marcus Lattimore makes South Carolina a very difficult offense to get off the field. The Gamecocks average 409 yards and 36.6 points per points per game.

“It usually takes us a while to get it down the field,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “Our defense is hopefully only out there 58-63 plays, something like that. I think Georgia’s been scoring so fast and there’s been so may turnovers in their games maybe, their defense is just playing more plays than a lot of the others. But they can make plays all over the place. Even last year we didn’t move the ball very well at all. . . . We’ve struggled scoring a lot of points against Georgia offensively.”

That’s been another issue for Georgia’s defense. It has been put in some difficult positions. Twenty-one of the Vols’ points were attributed to the Bulldogs’ offense giving up an interception for a touchdown and turnovers inside the 10.

But you won’t hear Georgia’s defenders using that as an excuse.

“It’s our job to stop the offense no matter where they get the ball on the field. If they get it on our 1-yard line, it’s our job to stop them.”

Said Abry Jones: “We’ve messed up a little here and there, but I’m not really a stat guy. I just know right now we’re 5-0 and we’re still ranked No. 5 in the country, so that’s good with me.”

134 comments Add your comment

Sammy

October 2nd, 2012
8:30 pm

Auburn 2010 defense gave up 24.1 points per game.

UGA 2012 defense giving up 22 points per game.

NC Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
8:36 pm

We just lost to the Gamecocks.

Ole Ball Sack

October 2nd, 2012
8:42 pm

I’m gonna throw early to get ahead and run Lattimore and Shaw the 3rd and 4th quarter. Instead of taking a knee at the end, I’m gonna throw a bomb to try to run up the score to look better on the score board. I’m the best that’s ever been and will never retire from the SEC until I die of a heart attack or slip on my visor and break my neck. Dang that Ron Morris. I gotta go if he is reading this.

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SEC Football

October 2nd, 2012
9:01 pm

A WIN IS A WIN BUT THE STATS WILL EVENTUALLY CATCH UP WITH YOU!!!!
IF WE WANT TO REACH THE ULTIMATE GOAL WE HAD BETTER CLEAN UP BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL. JUST TRYING TO BE REALISTIC. AS OF NOW I DO NOT BELIEVE WE ARE PLAYING LIKE THE #5 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY. HOPE THEY PROVE ME WRONG THE WEEKEND!!!!!

rhbDAWG1

October 2nd, 2012
9:13 pm

Habersham Dawy- You are absolutely right and that, in the end, is all that counts after the last game.

Tampon Gaytor

October 2nd, 2012
9:17 pm

Hell, they damn near choked on a team that couldn’t run the the ball on Akron,but yet ran it down their throat.MAN UP !!!

drbasic1

October 2nd, 2012
9:19 pm

ok some of you know i post here often. Usually just state what is on my mind, or F*** with the tech trolls, which numbers seem to be down by the way……anyone i will still be here for people to jump on me after saturday, i will not run and hide so here it is…..

Georgia 38 South Carolina 10

Georgia WILL have over 400 yards of offense
Gurly/Marshall will combine for only 150
Murray will have 250 passing
TK will lead receivers with 100+ yards
Lattimore WILL be held to under 100 yards
Shaw will have 200 yards passing no TD’s
The old ball sac will have 2 visor tosses
We will be bad mouthed by ESPN for jumping on their Logo at the end of the game
Coach Richt will apologize for us jumping on logo
Murray will bypass celebrating to immediately start studying film for next week
*
*
*
oh for all of you that insist…….”BOOK IT”!!

SouthGADawg

October 2nd, 2012
9:20 pm

Tampa Gator
I have always respected your opinion on football but you must not have watched the UGA,SC game last year. UGA dominated the game. Murray fumbled twice inside the 20 because of blown blocking by the tail back. The fake punt that rumbled in for a Td ??? Really do you think that will happen this year? SC has a good defense ok but do you really think they are better than UGA defense? I do not and I dont care about stats. UGA has not had a complete defensive starting team on the field. UGA has had 6 starters out at one time and you want to quote stats? There will still be some learning to do in this game. SC offence compared to UGA offence ? Hands down UGA, better RB,QB,WR, the line is doing alot better also look at the stats. SC has the better coach on the field and home field advantage, thats it……

PS . I had rather have a Richt than a Spurrier any day. Richt got rid of Mettenberg and Spurrier did everything to keep Garcia.

rhbDAWG1

October 2nd, 2012
9:22 pm

PLEASE, let’s stop comparing ourselves to 2010 Auburn. That is a gang that I don’t want to be associated with in any way.

SouthGADawg

October 2nd, 2012
9:24 pm

Tampa,
Hope FL wins this week. I will be pulling for them. I expect a really good game in Jax. for the SEC east. I think that FL has a good coach and will get the ball rolling. Seems like things are starting to un smoother in Gainsville now.

Rabid Dawg'84

October 2nd, 2012
9:33 pm

PLEASE run the offense that scored 51 the WHOLE game. If we get up by 2 or 3 TDs and run the “no chance” offense like we did in the 4th, SCAR will come back and win. The sherberts almost came back, but Bray isn’t that accurate. Run the scoring offense until it is over!!!!!!!!

Dawg Haus

October 2nd, 2012
9:37 pm

That’s a funny mental image, joe jenkins. Let the big dawg eat mor chikin! Regarding the D, Georgia is 5-0 and they’ve stepped up when it matters most.

phil

October 2nd, 2012
9:53 pm

Our D is horrible…

It will be our undoing against SC, against Florida and in whatever pitiful bowl game we play in….

Wake up, folks. Fat, lazy and too slow to the ball. We’re overrated.

Again.

phil

October 2nd, 2012
9:54 pm

38-10? Us?

Are you insane?

AltamahaDawg

October 2nd, 2012
10:04 pm

Personally, I think this defense is much better than it was last year. They gave up scoring drives in the final minutes of those close game a year ago. I am much more concerned about that than some silly analysis of what they did against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic in the first half, with thier hands tied behind thier back.

drbasic1

October 2nd, 2012
10:08 pm

@Phil

tell you what Phil….like I said I will be here after the game saturday…..If the term “insane” fits I will so say so then….If you are indeed a dawg fan, your 9:53 post tells me, we don’t need you as a fan, I base my “predictions” off some very complicated equations…does not mean they are or will be right…but like i said, this “insane” person will be here saturday after the game as I head to my hotel room to get ready to fly back home Sunday…..

kauai dawg

October 2nd, 2012
10:14 pm

Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets!

Go DAWGS!

RJ

October 2nd, 2012
10:15 pm

Every game is different and so I expect some surprises in terms of expectation from both teams. Regardless it will be a close game as both teams are warriors by now and will fight to the end. The only thing that could make this a run away will be if one team has a lot of turnovers compared to the other team. If Georgia keeps the turnover battle to a minimum I predict they will win a hard fought game. I think the freshmen running backs are great but they are freshmen and freshmen tend to make mistakes ie fumbles or important missed blocks. Should be a great game Go Dawgs

ZinoDawg

October 2nd, 2012
10:22 pm

No need to get on old Bill King.

Dawgs 35
Chickens 27

GATA!

Spokesman for the SEC East

October 2nd, 2012
10:37 pm

Take away Jarvis Jones and this is not even a good Defense, take away Bobo’s somehow brilliant play calling and this team is probaly 4-1 or even 3-2 with a loss at Missou. Grantham is an over paid blow hard; ask Chaz Henry.

ga gator

October 2nd, 2012
10:38 pm

Dawgs in a close one; 24-20.

bubba4dawgs

October 2nd, 2012
10:47 pm

The DAWGS are on a mission for at least 40 points! Anything less will be a disappointment to them! I believe it was stated that they are scoring too quickly which doesn’t give the defense much rest. This is a valid assessment. With the Cocks defense, scoring will probably be slower but that’s OK as long as they keep on getting first downs and moving the ball

the Vols Offensive line just flat out whipped the DAWGS D line resulting in 197 yards rushing. The DAWGS wanted to make them one dimensional but that never happened until late in the 4th quarter which then resulted in the turnovers and sealed the game.

Sure looking forward to this game with the Cocks! This will tell the story of the DAWGS strength! Frankly, I believe they are up for the task and want very much to pay back for the two consecutive losses! GO DAWGS!!

Sammy

October 2nd, 2012
11:24 pm

UGA in 2012 is averaging 29 minutes and 5 seconds of possession per game.

Auburn 2010 averaged 29 minutes and 17 seconds of possession per game.

Both score fast and put up 40+ points per game (Aub 2010 41, UGA 2012 48 per game)

Auburn beat South Carolina 56-17 in 2010.

Dawg Heaven

October 2nd, 2012
11:30 pm

UGA wins by >20. Becasue he Dawgs are that great, nah, becasue Carolina is way overrrated.

Dawg Heaven

October 2nd, 2012
11:31 pm

Oh, and so is our “D”

hunkerdown

October 2nd, 2012
11:31 pm

Coming into this weeks game we rank defensively in allowing the opponents points some where in the middle of the pack basically in the nation. Not good at all averaging like 22 points a game I believe I saw. Especially since we have played Buffalo and FAU and no disrespect intended but compare that to Bama and allowing an avg. of 7 points a game given up by their defense and it is hard to compare the two teams. especailly since Bama has played a much tougher schedule. CTG better figure something out pretty quickly as he has the talent no doubt. A number 5 team in the nation should be able to beat about any team on a given Saturday when they are playing well. I do not see us able to go against the likes of Bama and beat them currently. We may can beat SC but we will have to bring our A game. Go Dawgs!

daddo

October 3rd, 2012
12:12 am

Georgia’s defense is best on third downs in the first two minutes of third quarter……HAHAHAHAHAHA…..All summer we had to listen about the best defense in the COUNTRY at UGA, but now with a cupcake schedule, well, you know. You can’t even PLAY for a championship if u can’t stop the run and you can’t make a PAT.

Cobb Dawg

October 3rd, 2012
12:16 am

Here’s a thought. Why don’t we just play 4 quarters of solid D and we won’t have to force turnovers in the 4th? Or is it just me?

Outer Banks Dawg

October 3rd, 2012
12:17 am

Guys,

Don’t worry… Chip is not dumb… Grantham paid him to write this so the defense would get some bulletin board material. Injuries concern me though with guys getting nicked up a bit.

The defense will keep us in games.

L.A. BULLDAWG

October 3rd, 2012
12:34 am

OGLETREE, IS ROUNDING INTO GAME SHAPE! HE’S OUR BEST ATHLETE ON THE D.! WATCHOUT! WHEN IT;S ALL SAID AND DONE, THIS DEFENSE WILL CARRY US TO AN S.E.C. TITLE!

WtfWruthnkn

October 3rd, 2012
2:06 am

Sammy chill. Unless we are playing the exact sae schedule against the exact same players and stats you can’t compare seasons…dumbest thing ever

WtfWruthnkn

October 3rd, 2012
2:09 am

Phil sounds like a man who never played a down of football

Hugh

October 3rd, 2012
2:45 am

Good grief. Richt and Grantham are in denial. It’s not which is more important – stopping them for the first three quarters or making plays in the fourth. Both are important. If you roll
over for.three quarters, you have no chance to win the game with defensive stops “when the game is on the line.” The faulty logic makes no sense at all. The SEC should let UGA play a do over if they give up 50 points in the first half because UGA didn’t know the game was on the line? Give me a break.

Hugh

October 3rd, 2012
2:54 am

One more comment – one that Richt should understand. Try repenting when the game is on the line. Doesn’t the end come like a thief in the night? Go ahead and spot SC 28 in the first quarter. Then you will say – but that’s not fair. We didn’t know the game was on the line.

banders1

October 3rd, 2012
6:12 am

Mark Richt, the coach who never met an excuse he didn’t like.
Grantham, if a problem is “self-correctable” then fix it!
Stop with the excuses and on with the performance!

Cal22

October 3rd, 2012
6:21 am

U G A y loses 28-20. Maybe a 5-1 record will mean just as much to the diehard fan base.

duke

October 3rd, 2012
6:33 am

Just curious if anyone knows where Ramik Wilson and Chris Conley have disappeared to? I was hoping Conley and Wilson would have good soph seasons and that developed them for starting roles next year…

dogdawg

October 3rd, 2012
6:37 am

I hear all this talk. Let see if they can BACK IT UP Saturday and beat Darth viser!!! GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS!!!!!!

DawginLex

October 3rd, 2012
7:40 am

Plow the line of scrimmage and make Shaw throw it. Take Lattimore out of the game. Press coverage on the receivers. They won’t score 20 points.

We scored 42 on them last year and should be able to score in the 30’s on them.

7 point UGA win if we don’t turn it over

Piney Woods Pete

October 3rd, 2012
7:59 am

Hey, there’s another stat that counts: How many players on UGA’s defense have been arrested and/or suspended for failing drug tests, DUI, beating up women, and other sundry violations. Not to mention an overgrown, overpaid defensive coordinator who brings shame to the entire state with his boorish behavior.

Not a pretty picture, is it.

DawginLex

October 3rd, 2012
8:19 am

piney woods pete moron

How many women have ever let you see them naked?

ZERO

1 Game at a Time

October 3rd, 2012
8:21 am

There is so much emphasis put on stats, but at the end of the day, they mean nothing, because any stat prior to the game at hand was not earned against the team you about to play. For anyone who knows anything about football is that each win comes down to one thing and it’s who wants it more on that particular day, plain and simple. If it came down to stats or anything else, there would never be an upset in sports or any reason to play the game. The reason less talented teams upset much more talented teams is because the less talented team on that particular day wants it more!

So, it comes down to this on Sat… Who wants it more and who fights the hardest from start to finish! Football is about motivation and energy, the guy who has the most on that particular day, wins the battle, even if he’s not the most talented player. On Sat., I believe it will be the hungry Dawgs who want it more. They are on a mission this year!

Go Dawgs!

kingdaddy

October 3rd, 2012
8:29 am

Hey Peter
Can you get us,a deal on a cheap hotel room,lol??? Of course you can’t, the lamecocks football playas got them all booked up. How many suspended damecocks will be playin Sat.???

kingdaddy

October 3rd, 2012
8:37 am

What does Piney Wuds Peter and a bottle of beer, have in common??? They are both empty from the neck up…

Vampire Bill

October 3rd, 2012
8:38 am

I’m pretty disturbed about the only thing that matters is 5-0 idea. Why do UGA coaches have such low expectations for their football team? Shouldn’t UGA expect to beat undermatched unranked teams? CMR to me is a massive underachiever.

Let me ask my fellow posters a simple question. Would any of you like to see UGA win a national championship? Wouldn’t that be great? Now let me ask you another question. Do you honestly see that happening anytime soon? Why not ?

kingdaddy

October 3rd, 2012
8:45 am

Lil stevie suspended Garcia 5 times…Who else in college football has been suspended that many times? How many games did he miss from those 5 $u$pen$ion$??? Can you say zero, Peter from Pinny Wuds??? Good Lord, what did Garcia finally do to get kicked off the team, criticize lil stevie, lol???

kingdaddy

October 3rd, 2012
8:51 am

Bill
What makes you think UGAs Coaches have low expectations for this 5-0, #5 ranked team in the country. Show me where a UGA Coach doesn’t care or doesn’t want an NC? Arby Jones made the comment in this article, not a coach…

kingdaddy

October 3rd, 2012
9:07 am

BTW Arby hasn’t played up to the level I expected of him yet this year. Maybe he should let someone else do the interviews. A little humility for someone not excelling yet. Now, at this upcoming game, would be a good time to not hold anything back…

outkasted

October 3rd, 2012
9:08 am

I mean does anyone really think Shaw is a good QB…. That dude looks at his 1st option then he’s running… All his receivers are shorter than my 16 yr old nephew who is 6′1… Should be a blow out easily cause i just don’t see SC putting up a lot of points… Go dawgs…. one last thing stop harping on all the so called negatives and enjoy the ride week to week!!!