With personnel in flux, Dogs’ defense must guard against distractions

ORLANDO, Fla. – Georgia players say the biggest difference is when they’re on the practice field. That’s when they notice Rodney Garner is not there screaming at the top of his lungs. That’s when it’s evident that Big John Jenkins is not out there laughing and joking around with his teammates.

The rest of it, they insist, is business as usual.

As the Bulldogs prepare for Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl matchup with Nebraska, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is great potential for distraction. Forget the fun and sun of Orlando and its enormous array of amusement parks. Between coaches leaving (Garner to Auburn), players losing eligibility (Jenkins) and others contemplating early entry into the NFL draft (Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Kwame Geathers), this could be one pack of discombobulated Dogs by the time they kick off against the Cornhuskers on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

“A lot of situations have occurred from the last game to now,” said Jones, a junior who projects as one of the first players selected in the 2013 draft. “It’s just another challenge and we’ve got to be up for it.”

Said linebacker Amarlo Herrera: “It feels different, but you have to take the good with the bad.”

After serving Georgia for 15 years as its defensive line coach, assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, Garner decided to answer Auburn’s call for help and return to his alma mater one day before Christmas vacation. Gone with him is a  magnetic personality and mentoring relationship with more than a few of the players

“It’s different without Coach G here,” Jones said. “Everybody knows how he is. He’s a great guy and he’s a father figure to a lot of us out here. I’m happy for him at the same time; he’s going back to his alma mater. But for us, we’ve just got to focus in and hone in.”

Upon arrival at the bowl site, the Bulldogs learned they would be without Jenkins, a 360-pound second-team All-SEC defensive lineman who piled up 50 tackles as an almost immovable object middle for Georgia.

“We’ve been together so long, guys pretty much know what they’re doing,” Ogletree said. “With Coach G being gone, the D-line has got to go with Coach (Todd) Grantham now. But guys are still willing to work. We know we’ve got to prepare and come out and play hard because Nebraska is a good team.”

Ogletree and Georgia’s other two junior all-stars players have been peppered all month with questions about draft evaluations and declaration deadlines. Meanwhile, nine defensive starters are preparing to play their last collegiate games as matriculated seniors.

“I don’t think we’ll be distracted,” senior cornerback Sanders Commings said. “We want to come out and win this last game. We want to play together one more time as a defense. Even though a couple of big parts aren’t here, our starting noseguard and our D-line coach, we still feel like we’re a great defense and we just want to finish strong.”

The Bulldogs need to be fully focused on containing “Big Red’s” offensive machine.. Led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Cornhuskers average 462 yards per game. And while they’re primarily known as a rushing team, more than 207 of that has come via the passing game.

“I think Coach Grantham has everything under control along with the rest of the staff,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “And I think our guys are going to want to finish in a real positive way, so I’m not worried about that. If there is an issue it’s because Nebraska rushes for 250 yards a game and has a very agile quarterback who’s a great passer as well. So if there are problems it’s not going to be because somebody’s not ready. It’s going to be because they’re pretty darn good on offense.”

Logistics are an issue. With Garner leaving so close to Christmas, the Bulldogs haven’t had time to replace him and don’t plan to until sometime well after the bowl game. So Grantham has brought the defensive linemen into the meeting room with his outside linebackers. Graduate assistants Brandon Wheeling and Mike Kelly have taken over Garner’s role on the field during practices.

“We’ve got good coaches and we’re continuing to work,” Grantham said. “The defensive line and the outside ‘backers work with me and I work with my two GAs on the field to make sure we’re getting as much teaching and individualized attention as we can. And we’ve been working this game plan for a couple of weeks now, so it’s not like you’re trying to get something in. We’re moving forward and everything is going to be fine.”

Herrera, for one, doesn’t expect any regression.

“I’m still confident in this defense,” the sophomore said. “The D-line hasn’t let up. They’re still going hard. We’ve been practicing well. Everybody is on the same page and we’ve been making plays in practice.”

But the true test will come in Tuesday’s game.

MORE CAPITAL ONE BOWL COVERAGE

72 comments Add your comment

FloridaDawg

December 29th, 2012
5:33 pm

Was it the Independence Bowl a few years ago when UGA had a couple grad assistants coaching key areas? That didn’t turn out too bad.

dawggirl

December 29th, 2012
5:37 pm

I’m kind of sick and tired about hearing about distractions. Is Nebraska a good team that will require a good to great defensive effort? Of course. But it seems like some are already writing this game off as a loss. Give UGA a little credit, please.

uncledaddy

December 29th, 2012
5:44 pm

Big Red is going to leave UGA black and blue.

Nebraska – 28
UGA – 24

GranthamsThe Man

December 29th, 2012
5:59 pm

No worries, the ”distractions” will serve to refocus this team and Defense.

Also, The Nebraska QB stepped in it with that ”just another Big 10 Defense” Mistake!

It’s time for some Grown Man SEC football. Georgia will finish strong.

tom

December 29th, 2012
6:12 pm

don’t worry, mark richt will teach them about jesus.

Athens

December 29th, 2012
6:20 pm

@Put in Timeout

Aren’t you a little old for this. Geez 5150…still taking shots at age 50?…prettty sad.

No. 1 Braves Fan

December 29th, 2012
6:23 pm

The AJC writers are told to find something to write about. Chip is just doing his job.
Every team faces distractions of some type. These are minor. Nothing to worry about.
UGA 38 Nebraska 17. Its in the bag.

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1969 Graduate

December 29th, 2012
7:01 pm

We’ve certainly had our share of distracted Georgia teams, particularly in some bowls. We all know that. Apparently Coach Richt believes bowl games are sort of like exhibition games, which might have something to do with our team’s occasional lack of bowl game focus.

Personally, I see bowl games as a chance to exhibit our team to potential recruits and potential fans who might not otherwise know much about Georgia. My guess is most of our players see this game against Nebraska as a chance to show that they really should be ranked in the top five at the end of the year, and as a chance to place their team with the elite teams of the University’s history.

If they don’t, we might lose, but I think our team gets it.

Just for fun, I’m going to say that Nebraska is a lot better team than we might expect going by the score of their last game. Big Red might be a bit distracted by the Rose Bowl, mightn’t they?

Go, Bulldogs!

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poopdawg

December 29th, 2012
7:30 pm

Tom , i hope you like hot weather ? You just bought a ticket to hell!

tony

December 29th, 2012
7:35 pm

Chris Petersen and his Broncos lost 2 OCs and 1 DC in 7 seasons but that didn’t deter the Broncos.

guy

December 29th, 2012
7:53 pm

tom, if you ever have the privilege to be around CMR he will gladly teach you about Jesus too.

nebraskacornfedpig

December 29th, 2012
8:25 pm

nebraska sucks balls, they gave up 70 + to pathetic azz wisconsin in big-10 joke championship.

ga will roll those corn fed slow azz fat crackas

BAD DAWG

December 29th, 2012
9:16 pm

I agree poop dawg he is taking and kidding about the wrong thing!!!! Tom wake up before it gets hotter than you can handle. Jesus is nothing to kid about. Hope you have him in your heart!!!

SpikeTheBallStupid!

December 29th, 2012
9:19 pm

Go DAWGS! Pray Santa brought us a field goal kicker!

Old Guy

December 29th, 2012
9:20 pm

I very seldom comment but………. Tom, if you were making an attempt at humor you failed miserably.

drbasic1

December 29th, 2012
9:38 pm

@Tom

I am so glad he teaches them about Jesus, it keeps some good young men from Hell. Maybe you should ask Coach Richt for some spiritual counseling yourself….God Bless you!

Dawg '88

December 29th, 2012
9:50 pm

What a loaded article looking to create drama that doesn’t exist. Towers strikes again…Looking to exaggerate to make a point:

“Between coaches leaving….players losing eligibility…”? Coaches (plural) and players (plural).
Funny one coach and one player is not plural. Talk about making updistortions. Why does the ajc allow such poor journalism?

Defense, schmeefense

December 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

You know what, our defense was not all that great this year. They were fine, but really nothing special. Gave up over 40 points to a hapless UTK team. Got thoroughly de-pantsed by SC, and allowed Bama literally to run all over them to give up a huge lead in the SECC game. They also looked suspect against several other weaker opponents (including Buffalo, Ole Miss, the Technology Institute, and even Georgia Southern). They were excellent against Florida and Vandy, but great defenses don’t blow 11-point leads to a team that does nothing but run the ball every single play. I’ll be happy when some of these guys (and their unearned reputations/egos) are gone, and I hope the coaches figure out which of the remaining guys are pyrite as well (e.g., Damian Swann, who is made entirely of burnt toast, and that scrawny LB with the long hair who was hurt the last half of the season).

Dawg '88

December 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

drbasic1….just ignore tom….he’s an idiot

NC_Dawg

December 29th, 2012
10:03 pm

Between coaches leaving (Garner to Auburn), players losing eligibility (Jenkins)

Did you mean to say coach & player? We only lost one of each. No reason to pluralize Chip.

SpikeTheBallStupid!

December 29th, 2012
10:14 pm

Hate losing Garner, he got ‘em fired up during games… Oh well we still have the bobo and richt brain trust. Hope we don’t get corn holed by the corn huskers! GO DAWGS!

SpikeTheBallStupid!

December 29th, 2012
10:17 pm

Garner to Auburn, great move on his part. He wants to be part of a national champion program. Good luck Coach and thanks!

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 29th, 2012
10:32 pm

“Upon arrival at the bowl site, the Bulldogs learned they would be without Jenkins”

Maybe the other bulldog players are not too smart either if they didn’t know he wasn’t on the plane or at he hotel. LOL. The players knew at least some did. They knew cause he knew he didn’t pass.

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 29th, 2012
10:40 pm

Nice to see I have a Name thief. Well I was at McCamish watching Tech and Fordham play Basketball. I just got home and read the Article. End of the Texas v Oregon St was exciting. S Commings slap around Minnie Mouse yet?

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 29th, 2012
10:46 pm

Maybe Richt could teach them about the LAW after he teaches them about Jesus. I know the UGa players will meet the Law a lot sooner than they will meet Jesus in Athens.

DOGZ

December 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

Hey put in time out, you ass, the team does not fly to the bowl game together, so they would not know if John was on tha plane are not, as well they dont check into the hotel at the sametime.. go back t playing with your LEGO’s you idiot!

LakeDawg

December 29th, 2012
10:59 pm

Why is everybody getting on @Tom’s a$$? He said Richt would teach them about Jesus. Isn’t that a good thing? Jeez….um…I mean…darn.

LakeDawg

December 29th, 2012
11:08 pm

Actually, it was time for Garner to go. He was no longer the point man in recruiting and his coaching was just so so. I appreciate his efforts on behalf of UGA and glad he landed at his alma mater. It will probably be a shot in the arm for him. After 15 years, change can be good for both parties.

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 29th, 2012
11:44 pm

DOGZ
December 29th, 2012
10:50 pm
=====================
I will say BS on the team not flying together. I would bet there was a team plane for many players. Yes some didn’t use it because they went with their families from Christmas but the TEAM had practices in Athens before they left for Orlando.

Smitty

December 29th, 2012
11:53 pm

put in time out…..why don’t you find a blog on a team you like instead of bashing a good team…you are such an idiot

Smitty

December 29th, 2012
11:55 pm

oh…you are a tech fan…not an idiot…just a dumb a$$

Apple Dawg

December 30th, 2012
12:11 am

The defense will be just fine without Garner. Grantham will find an NFL coach to replace him. Jenkins had “lazydawg-itis” so he didn’t do his homework, and flunked a class…He had his mind on his money and his money on his mind.

In the meantime, Dawg fans can play this game on their iPads and iPhones, “Space Bacon Bulldog”
Long story short, you play a bulldog that shoots bacon at jorts-wearing alligators, nerdy yellowjackets, winged-tigers, gamehens, and crimson elephants!

iPhone – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-bacon-bulldog-mini/id581465795

or iPad
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-bacon-bulldog/id581411773

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 30th, 2012
12:11 am

A bowl Game is nothing but DISTRACTIONS. In the old days the players didn’t have all the commitment when they arrived in the town. Sponsor Meet & Greet Meals, Children’s hospital visits and such Photo Ops. The Game is there but so are many other things to get in the players heads. Wait until the Playoffs start. The HOST cities & Sponsors will not have all this crap to make the players do because there will be no time for it. The Bowls will not like the playoffs I can tell you. The ROSE Parade will be a nothing event around the game. TV and far away fans will love the playoffs but the Host Cities and Old Bowl Sponsors will be MAD as Hell over the playoff in place of the BOWL Games. Just you wait and see.

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 30th, 2012
12:38 am

how you going to have a parade before the game? You going to do it Sat morning at 8 am for a Noon kickoff? There was the Chic-fil-A parade today in the ATL but if the playoffs are played back to back weeks on Sat the Bowl Stuff that makes the sponsors money and lets all the big wigs party will be gone. Just you wait and see. I bet the ROSE will pull out soon enough and want to have the Rose Bowl with the best match up it can get. I think the Sugar and NoLa will be wanting a BOWL PARTY game back and not just a weekend playoff game. I long week full of things to do for fans during the holidays makes these towns a lot of money that will go away with Playoff games in continuing weeks through the holidays. Just wait and SEE. TV money is not going to make up the money some of these bowl town get over the holidays.

dbc

December 30th, 2012
12:38 am

New Years Resolution: No more UGA blogs. I’ve never seen so many sad, pointless, infantile, lifeless idiots in my life. I could keep going, but happy new year to all rational Dawg fans (as well as anyone else with a conscience and a pulse.) See you all in 2013…

Hunker down

December 30th, 2012
12:53 am

Good luck Dawgs and to all players wearing the G for the last time.

sflanagan21

December 30th, 2012
1:29 am

42-10 Dawgs! We will have our way with that weak D and our boys on our D have way too much pride to not show up for their last game (most of em’). It’s more of a pride thing for these guys and they will be prepared! Take that to the bank…

GaDawgsEmOut

December 30th, 2012
2:08 am

The Defense will be okay, Big Red rushing attack isnt what we saw against the Tide. The Secondary will stepup and go out with a bigtime statement. Grntham coached dline, so no issue doing RG job. I suspect CTG already has his replacement in mind.. Though no big john jenkins is a big blow to a thin line, but Geathers should hold up fine for 4qtrs. Cant wait to see Gurshall show Huskers some SEC smashmouth ball.

clutch

December 30th, 2012
2:19 am

If the dogs miss it up and stay balance and discipline they should win

2-18 when playing top 25 teams.

December 30th, 2012
5:51 am

Enter your comments here

jim

December 30th, 2012
6:07 am

GOOD LUCK GA, MILLIONS OF FANS WILL BE WATCHING YOU.

kdog

December 30th, 2012
6:49 am

no worries–the dog D shuts down that terrible nebraska offense—dogs win in a rout—45-13—take it to the bank! Dogs reload for a title run in 2013!

dougmo2

December 30th, 2012
7:46 am

I am just wondering if the footprints from the Alabama running backs have been scrubbed off the backs of the defenses jerseys.

papadawg

December 30th, 2012
7:50 am

I hope that the coaches learned to scream SPIKE THE BALL if they get to the 5 with no time outs

mgdawg

December 30th, 2012
8:00 am

I believe ogletree will go pro, honestly I think Jones would stay before ogletree would. My question is what will ogletree’s legacy be at UGA? I don’t think he ever played an entire season, either because of injury or suspension. To me ogletree’s legacy at UGA is one of selfishness, putting himself before the team (all the off the field issues that have lead to suspensions). If he wants to change that then come back next season and keep your nose clean, I can’t blame him for going pro though if he can be a first rounder.

Name (required)

December 30th, 2012
8:08 am

Richt needs to quit teaching about jesus and start teaching about football. Maybe we wouldn’t be in a half-a$$ed bowl like Cap One if he would do a little more coaching.