DAWGS DEFENSE and THE OPENING DRIVE: TIME FOR A STOP!
The Georgia defense has played admirably this season considering the holes that needed to be filled after the departures of Thomas Davis, David Pollack and Odell Thurman, as well as Coach Brian Van Gorder. Piled on top of the attrition to the NFL has been several injuries in the middle – Tony Taylor, Kedric Golston and Gerald Anderson. Despite all of this, the Dawgs defense ranks 5th nationally in points allowed per game with 14.6. All things considered, one would have a tough case to make to say that Coach Willie Martinez has not exceeded everyone’s expectations this season with the performance of his defense thus far.
However, the Dawgs defense looked like swiss cheese against Florida, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech in the first quarter. Florida scored all 14 of their points on their first 2 possessions. Auburn scored easily on its first possession. Kentucky moved the ball well in the first quarter despite its inability to score more than 3 points. And Tech scored its lone touchdown on the first possession. In each of these games, it looked like the opponent marched down the field according to a pre-scripted sequence of plays and Georgia was helpless to stop them. In fact, the Dawgs have allowed a total of 34 points in the first quarter in 11 games - 31 of those came in the past four games. In all but the Auburn game, the defense slammed the door on the opponent after the first quarter. So, why have we allowed these teams to have so much success on the first possession? And more importantly, what do we do differently to stop LSU early, and hopefully often?
Without the benefit of meticulous film study of the Georgia games, but having seen them all twice, I believe that our defense has been predictable, strictly following tendencies in the first part of the games and teams have been able to scheme for this successfully. Clearly, our in-game adjustments have been successful and for that, we can credit the coaches and players. However, we simply cannot spot LSU 7 points before I finish my first gin and tonic Saturday night.
In my opinion, we will need to zig when LSU thinks we will zag and vice versa. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we did something revolutionary and bold, like blitzing on the first possession? What is the worst that can happen, a touchdown? Well, we are used to that by now, so it would not be so unusual. On the other hand, maybe we could confuse and surprise the LSU offense and force a turnover or an even more rare three-and-out. I frankly do not know exactly what our early tendencies have been that other teams have been able to dissect, but I wish we would treat the first possession as an opportunity to misbehave and take a few chances. You know, kind of like we did against Arkansas in 2002. Maybe a jailbreak on first down. Surely Jumbo Fisher will not have planned for something we have not done in the past 11 games. If it doesn’t work out, then we will have the rest of the game to try and play them straight up, mano-to-mano. But before we get into a toe-to-toe slugfest with this talented bunch of bengals, let’s please experiment with an element of surprise just for fun. After all, it is just a game, right?
GO DAWGS, G.A.T.A.