How will we know if there’s progress on defense?

Assuming the defensive stats improve as the season goes along — and, damn, they’d better — will it be due to Georgia’s players getting better, or opponents getting easier to defend?

The Georgia secondary has been particularly lit up, giving up six pass plays of 30 or more yards this season after allowing only 10 total last season and eight in 2014 under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“I’m not here to point fingers,” defensive tackle DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle said. “We’re all a defense, we’re all together so not the back end giving it up, the whole defense is giving it up. Maybe if the D-line got more pressure, the back end wouldn’t have to cover for so long. I put it on all of us. It’s something we all have to work on and get stronger together with.”

Georgia’s secondary hasn’t been helped by the pass rush. The Bulldogs are second to last in the SEC with four sacks.

Davis chalks up this year’s growing number of big plays allowed from a secondary perspective as a lack of “eye discipline” and breakdowns in technique and fundamentals. For one-on-one matchups, Davis said that’s “squeezing guys off, getting our head around and making a play on it.”

The good news for Georgia is it may have faced its best offenses.

Missouri and Ole Miss are ranked fourth and 17th nationally in passing yardage and North Carolina is No. 13.

Of the eight remaining games, Florida is the highest rated passing team at No. 40. The rest are 82nd and lower.

None of the teams left on Georgia’s schedule rank in the top 50 in total offense. Tennessee is 85th and the Bulldogs schedule still includes Georgia Tech (117), Vanderbilt (121) and South Carolina (124).

Maybe October and November will be more inviting than September was for Georgia.

Hopefully, the correct answer is both.


Filed under Georgia Football

65 responses to “How will we know if there’s progress on defense?

  1. 92 grad

    I’m not falling for it. How many games in recent memory have resulted in “under performing highly touted recruit qb’s” having break out performances against us?

    • Olddawg55

      Just a wondering…do we have a defensive coordinator?? I watched every game and never see him performing the DC normal role. What I do see is a head coach who looks similar to Bama’s DC from years past. Does Tucker get to act as a position coach solely?? How much is CKS imitating Saban’s role of controlling the total defense? I don’t think our secondary just forgot how to play…are they being overcoached..and offense, too?

  2. rchris

    Dobbs is dangerous, I don’t care what they’ve done so far this year.

  3. If the pass rush does not improve, even a QB with one leg will do well against the Dawgs.

  4. I wonder how much of those offense stats for our opponents is because of how dire we have been on defense.

    • Sanford222view

      Ole Miss moved the ball on FSU and Bama as well. Mizzou didn’t play well on offense in the opener against WVA but then put 60 on a cupcake. UNC has a good offense as well. I guess point being while UGA hasn’t hurt their offensive stats the Dogs aren’t skewing their stats either to make them look overly impressive either.

      • PTC DAWG

        I’m convinced Old Mrs can move it in anyone, anywhere. Their O is strong.

      • Will (The Other One)

        Mizzou had around 100 plays and nearly 500 yards on WVA, but really sucked in the red zone. Their offensive 180 from last year looks fairly legit.

  5. Offense is bad. Defense is bad. Special teams are bad. Chubb is hurt. Smart promises better effort this week. Not much to hang your hat on. Gonna find out a lot about this staff as the season progresses.

    • We will find out a lot about the staff this week.
      My Opinion Is If The Dawgs Lose, The Entire Blame Will Be on The Staff,
      NOT On The Talent & NOT On The Team, Only On The Coaches.
      If The Dawgs Are NOT Outcoached. They will Win This Game.

  6. Macallanlover

    Mizzou and Old Miss look to be the best, most explosive offenses we will see this season. If we don’t let Dobbs run wild, we should be able to keep this game close. Their OL is only a step better than ours, and Dobbs and the receivers aren’t that consistent. If UGA gets blown out by the TN offense, we are in deep doo-doo. I think we keep them below 27, tops.

  7. Stupid Headline
    Watch the game if Wr are running wide open behind our Dbs do not matter if the QBs get them the ball then NO the Def is no better …… If we do not have DL/DE/LB hurrying the qb sacking the qb
    Kind of simple stats are overrated when grading the job a def has done just look and see if the players are in position to make the plays That is what a coach is suppose to do put the players in the right position then it comes down to talent to actually make the plays
    Right now people wish to cry over talent. I say the coaches need to do there jobs put the kids in the right positions then if the plays are not made blame talent.
    Right now hands down the problem is coaching when that improves I can then start to judge the talent

  8. ASEF

    Reminder: Richt was a career assistant who went 8-4 in his first season at Georgia. The roster he inherited produced 8 draft picks in 2002 (rounds 1,3,4,4,5,5,7,7), 7 in 2003 (rounds 1,1,2,2,3,6,7), and 4 in 2004 (rounds 1,2,4,4).

    Show me on this roster the following over the next 3 drafts: 4 first round picks, 3 second round, 2 third round, 4 fourth round, and 6 rounds 5-7. That’s 19. By comparison, Alabama had 22 drafted over the past 3 drafts.

    Dobbs isn’t the problem. Dobbs+Hurd+Malone is the problem. And it looks like Tennessee figured out how to work the rest of the offense into the mix when a defense tries to lock down the first 3.

    Tennessee scored 38 in a half against a defensive roster much more complete than the one Georgia will put on the field Saturday.

    • Bob

      Richt also had two very big wins. He beat UTK at Neyland and he stopped the bleeding to the Trade School. This talent crap gets really old. No, we are not as talented as Bama and perhaps a couple of other teams in the conference. No debate. We ain’t Kansas either. The last three games we have been as unprepared as we ever were in those big game flops that Richt rightfully got blamed for.

      I am fully supportive of the new staff. But it is time for the whining to cease. This myth that Georgia is somehow talentless after 4 5 consecutive top 12 recruiting classes does not explain Nicholls. And yeah, I know about the class of 2013.

      • ASEF

        Stop with the stupid binary: “talentless” versus “stop whining.” Of course the team has some talent. What SEC team doesn’t?

        Georgia on the offensive and defensive lines right now is about on par with Kentucky, South Carolina, and Mississippi State. The running backs are elite, but that doesn’t matter much when teams simply outnumber you at the point of attack. You can burn teams for that, but it helps to have an experienced QB who can figure out coverage disguises and blitz packages. The secondary and linebacker groups have some players, but they have extra run support responsibilities because the guys up front can’t handle that on their own. We can go on and on and on.

        I’m not pretending that Smart is the Next Big Thing, but I’m also not deluding myself that this roster isn’t really easy to game plan against.

        • Greg

          They finished 8th in the country in scoring defense last year (84th now)…..How did they do that??

          • ASEF

            A 1st and a 3rd round linebacker helps. And playing a Who’s Who of low-powered offenses in 2015 probably helped as well.

            • Greg

              It takes 11 to make a D’……..2 players do not drop you that much. Not like we are playing with 9.

              • ASEF

                2 players can make a huge difference in any offense or defense. 1st rounders are first rounders precisely because they change the math on the field. They force opponents to change their preferred game plans. 3rd rounders consistently win 1 on 1 match-ups. Saban and Sweeney and Freeze aren’t winning games because they are brilliant tacticians who maximize average players. They have built stable rosters full of exceptional athletes who will play on Sundays.

                • Greg

                  2 players????….A drop-off, but not almost 80 spots different in defensive scoring. Of course talent matters, but it is obvious to me that the biggest drop-off in performance is the staff. You will see as it plays out…..I REALLY hope I am wrong, but I have seen enough for me not to consider otherwise.

                  • Biggus Rickus

                    They’ve played the three best offenses on their schedule. If they’re still 86th on December 5th, feel free to bitch about it.

                    • RandallPinkFloyd

                      Not to mention that those 2 players, made the back 4 players’ jobs a lot easier. Pressure on the QB is a big deal. Just look at the Falcons since Abraham left.

                    • Greg

                      Don’t need your permission to bitch. The last game has given me enough reason to.

        • lakedawg

          Par with Kentucky, SC, Miss State, come on man lets be honest here.

          • ASEF

            Offensive and defensive line position groups? I’m 100% behind that statement.

            • Biggus Rickus

              I don’t think the defensive line is that bad, and it hasn’t played like it. Pass rush is a problem, but they haven’t been manhandled in the running game. Their problems have mostly been on big plays when they blew contain or the like.

              • Will (The Other One)

                Honestly, pass rush has been disappointing since Jarvis Jones left

              • ASEF

                I think DL is the one position group where the SEC still laps the other conferences, so it’s a tough comparison for Georgia. But I still wouldn’t rate our DL as of today as an equal to Tennesee, Arkansas, LSU, or Missouri. And it’s not even in the same class as Alabama, Texas AM, Florida, Ole Miss, or Auburn.

          • PTC DAWG

            Certainly these groups are not in the top half of the conference…

    • Greg

      and for his career, he had 7 top 10 finishes (15 years). Dooley had 8 top 10 finishes in 25 years….in the history of the school, only 21 times did they finish in the top 10.

      Richt also had a career 74 win percent, 5th amongst active coaches (Meyer, Stoops, Saban and Patterson). Point is……..he won (his talent or someone else’s). Don’t have a problem with a new coach, they just need to do better…..I am not convinced.

      • ASEF

        The point was that Kirby stepped into a high powered roster. Kirby isn’t. A lot of people yesterday were howling that a 3-1 coach should be fired immediately. Just incredibly ridiculous.

        • ASEF

          Edit: Richt stepped into a high-powered roster.

          • Greg

            “high – powered”??…LOL! IMO, Smart stepped into a better one. You got to develop it and give them direction. Time will tell….but I sure as HELL ain’t impressed.

            • ASEF

              Smart stepped into a better roster than Richt did?

              Yeah, we’ll see if the NFL agrees with you over the next 3 years. I’m guessing they won’t. And I’m sure you’ll pretend that Richt turned all those players into 1st and 2nd round picks while Smart turned all his 1st and 2nd round picks unto UDFAs. Um hm. Sure.

            • Kirby might be Boom 2.0, but this statement simply is not true. Do the research.

            • Sh3rl0ck

              I would like you to know that this is quite possibly the dumbest comment that I have ever read on this board.

              Here is a list of drafted players that Richt inherited: Charles Grant, Johnathan Sullivan, George Foster, Jon Stinchcomb, Will Witherspoon, Boss Bailey, Musa Smith, Benjamin Watson, Randy McMichael, Reggie Brown, Sean Jones, Terreal Bierria, Jermaine Phillips, Bruce Thornton, David Greene, Tony Gilbert, Verron Haynes, Josh Mallard, Tim Wansley, J. T. Wall.

              Greg Pyke and John Atkins are the only guys left from the 2012 recruits. The 2013 group was an abortion. Half of them aren’t on campus. The 2014 and 2015 classes were OK but not great. Show me four top 40 picks on the line of scrimmage and 20 draftable players. The 2016 guys are Kirbys recruits. There is a reason why so many true freshman played last year and this year. There is a serious talent deficiency from previous classes.

              Also, Chris Clemmons was an UDFA that spent a decade in the league as a starter.

        • The roster Richt stepped into > the roster Smart stepped into. Absolutely no debatable. Go back and look at that 1998 class that was the backbone of Richt’s first teams and how many of those guys played on Sunday.

          • DawgPhan

            because Richt developed them as players. If Richt isnt the coach those guys dont get drafted.

            • ASEF

              So Richt turned 4 dudes on the roster he inherited into first round picks – 2 in his first season? 19 guys over his first 3 seasons who otherwise don’t get drafted? Right.

              Too bad that magical ability departed him. In his first 3 years, he averaged 8.3 players per year drafted, 1.3 in the first round and 3 overall rounds 1-3. Over his next 12 he averaged 5.5 – . You would think he would get better at it over time, not worse. Oh well.

              • Olddawg55

                We should close the Richt conversation here. It doesn’t really matter who went to the NFL. All that matters in a coach’s resume is how many games did he win…Richt averaged at least ten a season…but he’s gone. So the onus is on CKS and his staff. We’ll judge him on W/L not on his past as a DC. We have the talent..can CKS fit them into HIS idea of what kind of team he wants to develop?

            • Don’t get drafted, huh? Ok.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      There’s no question CMR had a far better roster to work with. Anyone bothering to check can easily see that. Do people forget CMR had some inexplicable losses in his first year? Remember that Boston College bowl game fiasco? Scored 9 points in a loss to holtz/scu! Anyone who thinks our offense sucks now should go back and check the offense in 2001. And that team had several first and second rounders.

      Kirby took on a much more difficult situation than CMR. A true freshman QB, no kicking game, a patchwork OL, etc.

      • Athens Townie

        Good post. On the whole, I agree that Kirby’s hill is steeper.

        Kirby is dealing with higher expectations + a weaker roster.

    • Athens Townie

      Nice post, ASEF.

      Richt’s early teams were loaded, including at the line of scrimmage.

      Kirby’s early teams are only talented at certain positions, but definitely not at the line of scrimmage.

      Does this excuse underperformance? Not at all. It’s Kirby’s job to maximize the talent.

      But roster management under Richt explains why the 2016 football team has huge flaws. The 2013 and 2014 classes are awful. Our deficiencies on the lines of scrimmage have been years in the making.

      Nobody wants to hear this, but it will take a couple more recruiting cycles of elite recruiting to be where we want to be.

      In the meantime, Kirby and Co. need to make the most of what we have.

  9. Russ

    Nice of them to pre-dawggrade our remaining schedule. Makes it easy for me to dismiss any improved results.

  10. paul

    I will just be happy if we play better. I don;t care why. Yes, Ole Miss has a good team. But it seems to me we didn’t play very well against Nichols State. And they’re not a good team. Just play better. I don’t know if we have a situation like we had with Grantham where the players are having difficulty grasping the complexity of it all or if Kirby is simply asking small guys to play big and slow guys to play fast. Whatever. Clearly it’s time for both coaches and players alike to assess and adjust. Just play better.

  11. Uglydawg

    It is imperative that the offense keep our defense off the field. Dobbs’ runnning around will wear the defensive backs out and then Tennessee’s receivers will take over. Here’s looking at you OC and OL.
    Another point is the necessity to have officials that actually call out TN for having linemen more than 3 yards past the los when Dobbs’ scrambles turn into late throws. The guy throws it on the run, a lot..after everyone has determined he’s running. If he’s running away from the los, he isn’t very good and we can get some pics…if he’s running parallel or towards the los, he’s good. That may be because once he starts toward the los, the DB’s release their coverage and come up to stop him..It will be very important for Georgia’s defensive linemen to play him right and keep pressure on him. Tennesseee will also have a play where someone else throws the ball.

  12. Greg

    Gonna be a LONF season folks….if Nichols can push’em around, so can TN and the remainder of the opponents on schedule. The dawgs miss Pruitt – coaching “matters”.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Pruitt would have kept the offensive line from being pushed around by Nicholls? Huh, I had no idea he was responsible for every unit on the field last year.

  13. sUGArdaddy

    Our defense will start to look a lot better these last 8 games simply because we don’t play effective passing teams. UNC is a darn good passing team. Trubisky is the real deal, and Mizzou is going to light some folks up. They scored 79 with 10 minute qtrs in the second half last week. That’s hard to do against air. And, as mentioned, FSU and Bama (two of the nations top Ds) had trouble stropping Ole Miss.

    We played dreadful vs. Nicholls. I get that. I was there. But this meme that we’ve played terrible 3 straight games is just not true. We played a typical SEC road game vs. Mizzou. And we won. They have a sturdy D-line and we couldn’t block the Harris kid and survived.

    Even against Nicholls…we were playing very conservative and leading by 9 about the got the ball back and probably milk and ugly win. Then the fumble happened. We were also up 12 about to punch in a TD or go up by 15…then the INT happened. It was a ugly, but was shaping up to be an ugly, grind-it-out sleep-walking game before it turned into a near disaster because of 2 killer TOs.

    Games are a game unto themselves, all 12 of them. None of us know what will happen on Saturday. There are a lot of teams working out the kinks. We’re one of them.

  14. DawgByte

    I know Dawg fans are trying to put a bead on exactly why we’re not performing well on the field. IMO it’s a perfect storm of the following:
    1. Youth and inexperience
    2. Talent across the board and more importantly DEPTH
    3. Coaching – somehow the message isn’t getting through. Schemes may be too sophisticated, because our guys aren’t playing fast. They’re having to think too much. Great coaching can overcome lack of talent. Plenty of programs do more than Georgia with less talent.
    4. Team – this group of players are not functioning as a team yet, which is impacting effort and execution. The trust just isn’t there yet.

    • Will (The Other One)

      3 and 1 could be making a really nasty feedback loop. Grantham’s worse defense was also his youngest and he didn’t adapt. Chaney and Smart/Tucker have this problem, as outside of the RBs, we’re looking to freshmen/sophomores to make plays on offense and a lot of youth on defense too.

  15. Will Trane

    “Dawgs miss Pruitt”.
    Well apparently the B-M wine and cheese crowd did not. They along with or under the influence of the mouth of the south Tarkenton, wanted him gone.
    Pruitt did not learn all his defensive skills from Saban and Bama. He acquired some of those being in a spread system for awhile. He learned and developed his defense from the ground up. He came out of a certain pedigree.
    Not sure how many plays Ole Miss ran but they were damn efficient in each one of them thru 3 quarters. Ole Miss will put up numbers on a lot of teams with those players, coaches, and spread system. But 14 missed tackles is a very big number for a game. That says some players could have been out of position, not placed in the proper position prior to the play, coached but failed to execute, lack of ability, or slow / quick / poor technique.
    This defense is alleged to have some coaches. I as well as some others are waiting for the sun to come up on it is Sanford Stadium this season. Frankly, the days are getting shorter. Somebody had better have a sense of urgency here.

  16. PTC DAWG

    I see it this way…many here can’t let the firing of Richt go. Richt did not recruit you for 2-3 years, he did not coach you for 2-3 more do you think some of the players feel? My guess is that some of them are bitter. Going to take time to see if this works, or not.

    Beat UT

    • lakedawg

      Seldom agree with PTC on anything , but predict there will be several player leaving roster at year end for several reasons.

  17. Will Trane

    Defense travels. That is the refrain of winners. Ask UF, UA, and UGA.
    And the dawgs defense has not traveled well for several years and seasons.
    Hitting is not in style in Athens anymore.
    Not one player on the defense has that mean streak to hit and hit relentlessly.

  18. Hopefully Not 2012 Derek

    Kirby said in the presser this week that he doesn’t care about W’s. Just progress. This should be a super fun 3 years.

    • ASEF

      The Process Summarized: Focus the right things moment by moment, day by day, and the wins will happen. Focus on the wins, and you either end up discouraged or complacent.

      Saban said the same thing from Day 1 at Alabama.

      • Hopefully not 2012 Derek

        That’s cute. Smart talking like his coach daddy. He want might to take a look at his OL and realize it may be time to zone block. Or maybe he should coach his DB’s up a little more and quit leaving them out of position. Hopefully he brought the process with him and not just the language of the process.

        • ASEF

          It’s actually standard management theory as well as educational practice. If you focus on results, you get people chasing shortcuts, If you focus on process, then people just get down to the business of skill development.

          And skill development is what produces sustainable results.

          Zone blocking with this group isn’t nearly the answer the critics like to think it is. Zone blocking schemes require a lot of chemistry and experience within the offensive line, or the combo blocks won’t work. And the required footwork means your blockers better have some athletic ability.

          The secondary stuff is advanced, but you can’t just shelve it until they get good at it – because then they will never get good at it.

  19. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    The things I hope to see from the defense, win or lose, that will help me see that the team is trending in the right direction is effort and discipline.

    Sort of what we saw from Willie-Mart to Grantham(albeit briefly), but really saw from Grantham to Pruitt.

    The defense, leonard floyd aside, tended to stay in their gaps, played with great effort, and while not always flashy and spectacular, forced the opposing team to meticulously work to beat us. Allowing the explosive play is singularly devastating to our team right now.

    I don’t expect us to out athlete people or impose our wills on them. Yet. That’s not what anyone expects from the team. What we’re expecting from The Process is that the team does the little things right, that will, on average, build to big things.

    At the end of the day, Alabama is Alabama with Saban because they are more talented than every other team. it’s not a schematic advantage. it’s a skills advantage. My biggest concern with a staff from Alabama is how they manage to coach a team that isn’t always more talented than the opposition.

    This story is just getting started, with the ending many years from now. I just want to see the little things done right, and it’ll go along way in easing my concerns.

  20. Good grief … the firing back and forth is getting ridiculous. Richt is gone, and I guarantee you he and Kathryn haven’t looked back at Athens. He will come back and be honored appropriately when his coaching career is done likely when the 2002 SEC champions have their 20th or 25th reunion. Kirby is here, and let’s give the guy a chance to build the program the way he wants it. That doesn’t exempt him from sensible criticism in the meantime – like not having the team ready to compete against Nicholls or the team’s total performance in Oxford.

    It’s clear that we have played some pretty good offenses. Hopefully, we see improvement this weekend on both sides of the ball.

    Let’s GATA .. Get After Tennessee’s @$$.