September 17, 2011

Did the defense impress?

In the eyes of some, even a 59-0 shutout of a FCS team like Coastal Carolina would not come across as an overly impressive feat.

But in the opinion of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, that wouldn't necessarily be true.

"This game to me was more about us and how we executed and how we would finish the game," Grantham said. "I think these guys worked their tail off. They got some success today with the victory, they worked hard and they're a mentally tough group but we've got to continue to work and put them in position to make plays."

Statistically, the Bulldogs could not have done much more.

Georgia limited the Chanticleers to just 112 yards and only seven first down. The shutout was Georgia's first since the Vanderbilt game last fall in Athens.

"I think that (the shutout) was very key," defensive end Abry Jones said. "A lot of times when you go against lower division schools, you don't come out prepared in the right frame of mind. But we wanted to show that we're a defense that's not going to go down the drain. We focused and we wanted to accomplish something."

Although the Bulldogs did not register any sacks, they recorded nine tackles for losses of 21 yards.

"I think we've done a pretty good job," head coach Mark Richt said of his defense's play. "They were responsible for sure 17 points last week and there was a time when it was first-and-goal at the 5 that they got on the field and could have kept them to a field goal but were not able to do that. They take some ownership of that. But if you take what happened last week and what happened this week, I think they have played pretty well."

Especially, Richt said, considering the injuries the team has recently sustained at linebacker.

One week after losing Alec Ogletree to a broken bone in his foot, Christian Robinson suffered a foot injury of his own last week late in the game against South Carolina.

Enter Shawn Williams, who moved down from his strong safety spot to start at Moe, with junior Mike Gilliard getting the call at Mike where he responded with a game-high eight tackles.

That wasn't the only shakeup on the starting defense for Georgia.

With senior DeAngelo Tyson out with a strained back, Jonathan Jenkins started at defensive end alongside Kwame Geathers at nose.

"(Gilliard) did a wonderful job, had a bunch of tackles and was communicating real with everybody in the absence of Christian Robinson," Richt said. "I thought the down linemen played well. The goal today was to not allow them to get started, not allow that quarterback to get going, take away his space in the running game and pressure him in the passing game early on. I thought the guys did that and it started up front."

But Richt isn't na´ve. There's still some areas of concern.

The Bulldogs still only have one sack through three games, but it's continued issues in the Red Zone that have Richt uneasy, starting with next week's game at Ole Miss.

"The one area where we've got to do better in when we get into more of this Southeastern Conference schedule is just better Red Zone defense," Richt said. "We've not done a great job there yet but that's going to be a point of emphasis. If we can force some field goals instead of touchdowns when people do happen to get in there, we'll be an even better defense."

He's got his fingers crossed and hopes that Saturday's effort against Coastal Carolina was a positive sign.

"I wanted them to take care of business. My goal for them was to basically do their job with a lot of energy. I wanted them to play disciplined," he said "They did take care of business. We didn't want a whole lot of talking; we wanted to let our playing talk for us."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]