Sure, we’re all naturally focused on the quarterbacks and, in particular, Jacob Eason’s ability to climb the learning curve, but there’s other areas where Georgia needs to get better as the season progresses.
So when I post this chart from Matt Hinton’s piece about Tennessee’s first game, don’t accuse me of looking forward, because that’s not what this post is about:
That’s about as stark a difference in quarterback performance as you’re likely to see. GAT(Q)A is a big deal. Georgia only managed to sack Trubisky once, although there was fairly steady pressure on him, especially after the Tar Heels took that ten-point lead. That’s not good enough going forward, though.
I’m not saying this because I doubt Smart and Tucker aren’t aware of it. Remember the environment from which Smart forged his defensive philosophy:
You have to have safety-type players who can play the quarterback but also can, if it is a pass play, race back and play as either an intermediate defender or as a deep safety. The defense must be able to play man coverage, and it must have the ability to blitz and attack both the quarterback and any other backfield player. Finally, the defense must have the ability to zone blitz to put pressure on the quarterback but still take away the short slants and quick passes, or at least threaten to do so.
In other words you have to play defense like Alabama head coach Nick Saban. [Emphasis added.]
Somehow, they’ve got to figure out a way to pressure quarterbacks like Dobbs and Kelly when they are in passing situations, but do so without getting burned by them running the ball. That’s no small task, probably made more daunting in Tennessee’s case by the threat of RPO plays with the likes of Hurd and Kamara, plays which North Carolina used effectively. But if Appalachian State could do it, you have to think Georgia can, too.
And that starts tomorrow.