I’m pleased to see that the coaches keep identifying the symptoms that many of us have seen over the past couple of seasons that indicated there were problems with the team’s mindset.
Georgia is putting an extra emphasis this spring on building a defense better equipped to stop opposing teams from the type of killer surges that quickly took the Bulldogs out of games last season.
In three losses last season – against Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech – Georgia did not react well to adversity.
“We’ve definitely got to improve in areas like sudden change,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “When things go bad, handling adversity better. We gave up most of our points in the third and fourth quarter. That’s when a lot of our big plays were given up, too.
“We’re working harder at it. Being more conscious of it. Not letting it happen. Those things will be stressed in the spring.”
And I’m not trying to make light of what Martinez is saying about it, but exactly how do you work on “handling adversity better” in the spring?
“The thing is changing the momentum of the game,” Martinez said. “That comes with leadership and that comes with mental toughness, physical toughness and playmaking – making something happen. You try to teach it and coach it and relate it to your players and bottom line, get it done.”
The good thing I keep seeing with these kinds of comments is that the staff and players seem to be embracing the idea that nothing should be taken for granted. It’s also a plus that nobody’s pointing at last year’s schedule or injury situation as an excuse. But still, the wheels aren’t going to come off the wagon in the spring as they did against ‘Bama in the first quarter last year… or against Florida in the third quarter… or against Tech… well, you get the idea.
I suspect we’re all going to be holding our breath a little until one of those moments come once the season’s underway and we see how the team reacts.
Speaking of collective breath-holding, here’s another area to watch.
… Richt said King has a slight advantage in the blocking game due to the extra year of experience and game-day snaps he has gotten that Thomas has not. After watching both of them in practice, however, neither has shown they’re ready to take over for the departed Knowshon Moreno just yet.
“We need to get both those guys quite a bit more reps in pass protection to be able to start separating them,” Richt said.
Sure, it’s way too soon to judge, but let’s hope that offensive line jells the way we’re counting on. A little margin for error in blitz pickup won’t hurt in the least when it comes to dealing with adversity.