They may be baby steps, but at least they’re steps.

One small, favorable trend for Georgia’s defense:

Georgia’s defense has improved five consecutive weeks when it comes to yardage allowed. After giving up 449 yards to LSU, the Bulldogs have yielded 404 to Tennessee, 375 to Missouri, 337 to Vanderbilt, 319 to Florida and 253 to Appalachian State.

Yes, I get that the quality of the offenses Georgia has faced has declined as the season’s progressed.  But Missouri’s part of that trend, so that’s not a complete explanation.  And, no, I don’t expect the trend to survive Saturday.  Auburn’s lowest total yardage figure of the season is 366, against Arkansas.  What it should indicate, though, is that the defense is gaining some traction and perhaps more confidence in its play.  Before you dump all over that thought, ask yourself if you’d be happier if the trend’s reverse were happening.

If the Dawgs can keep Auburn’s offense under 400 yards on the day and avoid imploding on the turnover front and on special teams, I like their chances.  (It would help if nobody on defense got flagged for targeting this week.)

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UPDATE:  Also, this, which strikes me as real progress.

Georgia’s rush defense ranks fourth in the SEC this year and is yielding 3.4 yards per carry. Last year, with four players who made NFL opening day rosters, the Bulldogs ranked 12th in the conference in run defense and yielded 4.1 yards per carry.

This year’s Georgia run defense has been solid, although stout would be going too far. The sack numbers do a lot to bring the average rushing yards down. Without sacks counting, Georgia is allowing 4.3 yards per rush. Taking sacks out of last year’s total, the yards-per-rush average goes up to 4.7.

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40 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

40 responses to “They may be baby steps, but at least they’re steps.

  1. Dawgfan Will

    Anyone who says our defense still isn’t good…okay, you’ve got a point.

    Anyone who says our defense still makes too many mistakes…well, I can’t argue with you there.

    But anyone who says our defense hasn’t improved during the season is just seeing what he or she wants to see.

    • The point totals of the last 12 teams we’ve played who were ranked in the AP top 20.

      41, 41, 30, 38, 32, 9, 35, 33, 42, 45, 35, 49.

      5 scored more than 40.
      11 scored more than 30.
      We are 3-9 in these games.

      Its going to take more than App. State and a pitiful gator team to show improvement. I haven’t seen any improvement whatsoever. How about not getting torched by a ranked team. Thst would be a start.

      • You’ve already made this point. It’s not new because you’ve changed handles.

        Although you are pushing two of GTP‘s “don’t do that” rules. Just sayin’.

      • You are your argument’s worst enemy. It is one thing to believe the defense is not living up to your expectations. That’s fine. Pulling very specific, arbitrarily selected stats out (last 12 vs. AP top 20… really?), particularly ones that do not isolate the shortcomings of the unit you are bashing, is nonsensical.

        Points tell the whole team’s story, not just the defense’s story. They don’t tell you about turnovers or special teams or what happens when they are given short fields or when they have been on the field for 13 out of 15 minutes in a quarter because of offensive mistakes or abhorrent officiating or even injuries. The team took the field, and through various happenings for sixty minutes, gave up X number of points. Everyone on the field – offense, defense, and special teams – contributed to that number. There are plenty of statistics you can use that actually isolate the defense’s performance, and I encourage you to use those to support your future arguments.

        As Hogbody said, every rational person was saying preseason that the offense was going to have to carry the load until the defense got its ears wet. Then, the defense showed its immaturity, made some bad plays, didn’t show a lot of confidence in themselves or each other, had some key injuries, suspensions, and ejections (Matthews, JHC, Norman, Moore, Drew, etc.), and is just now getting its bearings and showing signs of improvement. This is exactly what it looks like when the defense has to have time to get its ears wet.

        The only hope for a title run this year was for the offense to be so dominant that the shortcomings of a young defense could be overcome. That didn’t work out. The injuries took their toll, and the offense is hobbling around trying to make the best of things without the majority of their weapons in their arsenal. If in the preseason, you would have said the offense was going to have to carry the load without Mitchell at all, and Marshall, Gurley, Scott-Wesley, Bennett, and Conley were all going to miss a large chunk of the season, then everyone would have assumed the season was F’d. But, it’s not, and I think the coaches deserve a lot of credit for that.

        If you want to ask why the roster on defense got in such bad shape, I’ll entertain that. I think that is a valid criticism, and hopefully the coaches have addressed the roster management problems. Playing with 66 scholarship players is not a viable long-term strategy, and that is bearing itself out this year. (But, lordamercy, the roster next year is stacked. The only player they lose off the two-deep on D is Garrison Smith. They’ll return 10 starters who have all been baptized by fire. Barring a run-in with the UGA police, they should be pretty good.)

        If you don’t like Grantham, and you think he’s got to go… fine. Name some potential replacements. Don’t just point out the problem. Propose a solution.

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    If I recall correctly, the preseason meme was “the offense will have to carry the team until the inexperienced defense improves.” Nobody ever contemplates Iwo Jima casualties in those predictions, but it sounds about right.

    • Moe Pritchett

      I knew there was a comparison to the injury rate; Iwo Jima sounds about right, but I think the UT game was more like our own private D-Day.

    • I’m so sick of the excuses for this defense. Its like you guys have battered wife syndrome. There haven’t been many injuries on that side of the ball. For once I’d like for them to exceed expectations.

      • uglydawg

        Understand that a weakend offense stresses the defense…That’s not too hard to figure out. You know…field position…three and out’s wearing the defense down…the other teams offense taking advantageous chances against your defense (ie fourth down attempts…fake punts) because they know your offense can’t capitalize even if it doesn’t work…..Neither side of the ball works in a vacuum.

  3. j4k372

    In recent years, our team seems to better in November. I think we have a good chance of stopping the run game at AU. If we can avoid the special team mistakes and our safeties/ILBs actually decide to cover someone, then I expect our offense to handle everything else.

    The defensive bright spot to me this year has been the play of Ray Drew. He just seems to get better each week. Love to see a kid reaching his potential. Also, is it just me or does Tray Matthews look like a beast out there? He is 6′ 200lbs, but he looks huge.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Ray Drew (like Marlon Brown) is yet another reminder to all those who like to label athletes “busts” when they don’t have Manziel-like freshman years that sometimes it just takes a bit longer for the light to come on. I couldn’t be happier that the Pastor of Disaster is reaching his potential.

      • Moe Pritchett

        I think Drew called it the “crock pot”

        • RocketDawg

          I think that there are a lot of players that need to adjust to the college game before they break out, for some it comes quickly while for others (Drew/Brown) it takes a couple of seasons. Ray is going to be a big time NFL prospect in the ’15 draft and I couldn’t be happier at the success Marlon is having with the Ravens.

      • Joe Schmoe

        One of the big things to keep in mind with Drew is that he changed positions from OLB to DE. He had to start over from a technique and playbook perspective which undoubtedly slowed is development.

  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    Dear Larry….They called us “pesky” there. Pesky is a fly in yer grits, right, Larry.

    I know you always loved Awbun games, but I seriously doubt you will see any “sugar falling from the sky” as this one winds down.

    I am actually beginning to think we might, just might have a shot, Larry, and that, in itself is worrying the hell out of me.

    Oh…if you don’t mind, could you tell yer boy Scott, maybe he and Eric could tell us a little more about what’s going on in the game…once in a while…Scott’s calls are getting farther and farther behind the ball.

    Hope the fish are biting.

    Scorp

  5. uglydawg

    4.7 yards times 3 downs is enough for a first down…BUT…those (4.7) were given against offenses that could also and did throw the ball very, very, very well (exceptions…Fl and to a lesser degree Vandy). Auburn doesn’t appear to have that advantage so Georgia’s defense can play the run a lot, lot tighter. You’ve got to believe that Gus knows Georgia will stack it up and is working on the old passing game. But his penchant for not throwing the ball and relying on just the run will catch up to him now…because it’s November and kind of late to be changing things up in your offensive scheme. But it will end up strength against strength and AU will certainly score some..
    .but everyone seems to be forgetting that Georgia’s offense may be more than a match for Auburn’s defense.
    . Auburn has to deal with a perfectly balanced attack while Georgia seemingly only has to stop the run ..(for the most part).
    The Barners have seen a beat-up and depleted UGA squad struggle while losing to Vandy and Missouri and almost to Tennessee. What they remember are the scores..not the reasons (injuries, officiating gang-rape, etc). They probably already have this one in the “W” column.
    This ain’t going to be the same team that lost Vandy. I know their coaches will try to warn them, but Georgia should have the mental edge in this game.

  6. The rush defense numbers don’t impress me. We’ve surrendered 17 rushing touchdowns. More than any SEC team. Teams are simply opting to pass more against us.

  7. Irishdawg

    “He is 6′ 200lbs, but he looks huge.”

    He looks like he’s from a comic book. Douglas is who looks bigger than he is; he’s listed at 5’11″, 200, but he looks 220.

    I’m 5’11″ and a pretty strong 195; if I collided with a SEC linebacker my skull would probably shatter while Douglas seems to come out on top more often than not.

  8. Macallanlover

    We have been pretty stout against the run all year, especially between the tackles, but this is a different type of rush with misdirection plays, three-card Monte type motion, and QB zone reads. It requires a discipline that we haven’t shown yet, and we have to hope that our past success against Malzahn will give us film to train the newbies with. I still like the matchup and think we will slow that offense to manageable levels unless they can get a passing game working (if they can’t this week, they don’t have one at all.)

    As ugly said above, everyone forgets that as limited as we are on offense, we should be able to find holes in their defense. I don’t expect Gurley to be much better than he was against Florida and Appy (maybe 75%) but he should be able to keep them concerned enough about the run to give us a chance to extend drives via short passing. Even with Conley back I don’t think we will see deep, vertical throws the rest of the year. My biggest concern about our offense versus their D is our tackles’ ability to handle their rush. If Murray has adequate time, we will be in this ball game all night, maybe enough to take the all-time series lead.

    • sniffer

      Mac, I agree with you to point. I’m hoping Bobo uses Conley to run go routes to stretch the field and draw the safeties over the top. He can’t cut, but I bet he can “go”.

      I’m also wondering who would be the better “spy” on Marshall, Floyd or Harvey-Clemmons? Maybe both? Tenn didn’t pay much attention to him the whole game, it appeared to me.

      • It’s not that the Vols didn’t pay attention. It’s that they’ve got the slowest defense in the conference.

      • Macallanlover

        Conley, and possibly Rumph, can be used for that although we have Davis and haven’t really used him on fly patterns. Auburn is weak in the secondary so our possession throws to Bennett, Wooten, and Lynch will give them trouble if Aaron has time and/or Gurley is able to establish an adequate run threat.

        Senator, you might as well make it Floyd because he is alike a new spring colt and will (enthusiastically) follow anything that moves anyway. Love his hustle and energy but he really needs to remain as the trail, contain man and stay 3-5 yards deep as he pursues playts to the other side against Malzahn’s scheme. JHC is definitely the better tackler in space and would be my choice as a shadow.

  9. Joe Schmoe

    Does anyone else thing that the vast improvement on run defense has anything to do with the change in DL coaches? I do.

    Chris Wilson gets the coach of the year award in my book. Garner had a number of NFL draft picks in addition to the current players and the visions of Alabama gashing us over and over again still remain fresh in my mind.

  10. DawgPhan

    I think that the number show that the defense is improving. Hard to argue that they are not. I would love to see a couple more turnovers from that side of the ball, but that is always true.

    No special teams blunders and winning the TO battle means UGA takes another one on the plains.

  11. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The D is getting better. If they just can continue the trend and get better for Auburn I like Georgia’s chances.