November 26, 2011

Defense gets it done

ATLANTA - Someone asked defensive coordinator Todd Grantham if preparing for Georgia Tech's triple-option attack was more taxing than any other team Georgia has played this year.

Not hardly.

"It's not taxing. It's 11 guys on 11 guys, they're either going to run inside or they're going to run outside. Look, the offense is the wishbone, so you're stopping the wishbone," Grantham said. "You've got to be able to stop the fullback, you've got to be able to stop the quarterback. I've faced a lot of offenses. The thing that people talk about is just that nobody else runs it, not many people run it, it's no more taxing than playing Charlie Weis at Florida, or somebody that throws the ball, so that part of it is not. You've got to play assignment football when you're playing anybody, you've just got to go play."

That's just what the Bulldog defense did as Georgia did a very good job controlling the vaunted Georgia Tech running game, holding the Yellow Jackets to 243 yards, some 80 yards below their season average in Saturday's 31-17 win.

"You've got to be able to take away that fullback, because if he can get it to a favorable down and distance on second down, they're going to go for it on fourth down, so that gives them a lot of options the next three downs," Grantham said. "Today, we did a good job of that."

Georgia certainly did.

Fullback David Sims managed just 36 yards on 12 carries for the Yellow Jackets, as most of Georgia Tech's damage came on the outside on pitches to A-backs Roddy Jones (11-72) and Orwin Smith (7-46).

Credit Georgia's interior defensive line for that.

Despite losing defensive end DeAngelo Tyson on the game's second play, sophomore Garrison Smith stepped in and together with Abry Jones and Jonathan Jenkins, took away the fullback option, always the first key in slowing down the triple-option.

"When you say you've got to get the feel of the offense, they're not lying," said Jenkins, who was playing against an option team for the first time in his career. "Once you get the feel, it's manageable, but until then it's crazy. You've got to really play with your hands and play assignment."

Jenkins felt he held his own.

"My job as a nose is to try to stop the fullback dive," Jenkins said. "Watching their film and knowing that they use the fullback a lot, I really had to play my part."

Grantham was pleased with what he saw.

"He's a guy who's got to defend himself every play in there. He has to be stout on the center and I thought he did a tremendous job. I couldn't be more proud of him and all those front guys," Grantham said. "They had to play with their hands, look out for the low blocks, things like that and make sure they got off of them."
Once the offense extended the lead to 31-10, the defense turned up the pressure even more, forcing the Yellow Jackets to try and throw the ball, resulting in interceptions of Tech quarterback Telvin Washington by Mike Gilliard and Shawn Williams to stop a pair of would-be drives.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones was also able to secure another sack, giving him 13.5 for the year, most in the SEC and just off David Pollack's single-season Georgia mark of 14.

"We were able to get some turnovers off that," Grantham said. "We got the two interceptions and it goes back to the same philosophy of forcing them to do things they don't want to do and that gives you a chance to make some plays. Mike did a nice job on the one pick and we were able to get some pressure. We were able to do a lot of good things today."