“The bigger we make this game the tougher it can get.”

Bill Connelly praises Georgia’s defense with faint damns.

3. Georgia’s defense is awfully bend-don’t-breaky.

The Dawgs have allowed just 24 points in three games, so we probably shouldn’t overstate any issues.

Still, while they might prevent big plays as well as anyone in the country — which should make for an interesting matchup when they take on Drew Lock and the Missouri offense this weekend — teams have been able to move the ball incrementally so far. The Dawgs are 88th in success rate allowed, and opponents’ average third-down distance has been just 5.9 yards, the second-lowest (and, for defenses, second-worst) in FBS.

They swarm to the ball well, but they don’t disrupt: they’re only 103rd in havoc rate. A patient offense could do some damage.

Which begs the obvious question:  is Missouri’s offense a patient offense?  They’d like to think so.

“I think we handled their pass rush really well,” Lock said. “They were known to get to the quarterback and we blocked really well in the first half to where he had the opportunity to let guys run past the normal cover zone. If we can block it up, sometimes we can put a pass to those yard marks.”

That is one part of being patient, and it probably helps that Georgia to date hasn’t generated much in the sack department.

Interestingly, though, the offense appears to be running at a faster pace in 2018 — 86 plays per game, which leads the conference — than in 2017 (70.46 ppg).  That’s allowed the Tigers to generate over a hundred yards per game greater offensive production than Georgia, despite the Dawgs averaging a yard per play more on offense than UM.  It’s also helped get Missouri to second in the SEC in time of possession.

That, in turn, has probably helped a defense that’s yielding over six yards a play and evidently had issues last week with play action, something that should be music to Jake Fromm’s and Jim Chaney’s ears.

All of which tells me that one of the big keys to Saturday’s game is the play of Georgia’s safeties.

Last year, the Bulldogs’ didn’t do a very good job on Hall when he came to Sanford Stadium. Hall gashed the Georgia secondary for a pair of 63-yard touchdown receptions. But those were just the ones he caught. Erased from most everyone’s memory are the two other occasions when Hall was running free deep in the Georgia secondary but quarterback Drew Lock couldn’t connect with him. He finished with four catches for 141 yards.

That was with veteran free safety Dominick Sanders manning the deep third. Now it is the first-year LeCounte taking on that responsibility.

“I watched that a few times, reviewing last year’s tape and watching this year’s tape,” said LeCounte, who started one game last season and all three this year. “He’s a real fast guy. We know we’re playing a great team and have really got to hone in and focus on everything we need to do.”

LeCounte won’t be alone. He and Reed will both have deep-ball responsibilities on Saturday. But Missouri is also running the ball with more authority this season, and most of the run fits fall to Reed.

LeCounte’s specialty is manning the center of the field and following the ball wherever it goes.

“Stay deep and protect the defense in front of you,” LeCounte said of his marching orders. “I’m the last line of defense back there. So, whenever I can stay deep and chase the ball down, that’s something I enjoy doing. I take pride in that.”

Smart and Tucker are not going to commit either LeCounte or Reed to the run unless Missouri forces them to.  Is the Tigers’ running game good enough to force their hand?


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

49 responses to ““The bigger we make this game the tougher it can get.”

  1. jrod1229

    Tough to be patient when you’re down 3 scores at/just after half time. The defense is set up to compliment the offense this year, it was the opposite last year.

    Until Atlanta I haven’t seen a team (maybe LSU) who will be able to hold the offense down for any long amount of time.


  2. Greg

    Gotta feeling you’re gonna see the defense turned loose this game. More aggressive with stunts, blitzes etc. (front 7) to rattle Drew. Looking for a buncha sacks.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Biggus Rickus

    Dominick Sanders was a nice player who got the most out of what he had, but I feel a hell of a lot better with LeCounte at free safety. Even with a freshman manning one of the CB spots, I like this secondary overall much more than last year’s.


    • Greg

      agree, with the speed they have and with the more experience they get… can see us being more aggressive on D’, more man on man. Sacks will come, right now as a unit they are playing fine. Honestly think with the talent we have back there, it could be the best we have had in a long, long time.


    • Jim

      Yeah Pruitt and smart/Tucker really coached up Parrish and Sanders and got the most out of them they could and it never really cost us until 2nd and 26. Those guys were DGDs and I hate that was the final play for their careers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David H.

        I saw a full-field replay of the 2nd-and-26 play yesterday, and it was really a small margin that caused Sanders to be out of position. At the beginning of the play, Sanders, backpedaling, edged toward the sideline as he should have, but then he was fooled by Tua’s eyes looking toward Tua’s right, and Sanders just took a couple steps back toward the middle of the field. Tua turned quickly and threw down his left sideline, and Sanders sprinted to recover, but those couple of seconds’ delay when Tua’s look-off fooled him were the difference. It was a really good play (and a perfect throw) by Tua.

        It’s a shame we couldn’t have gotten a good bump on the receiver coming off the line of scrimmage; that could have bought time for Sanders to recover or disrupted the timing of the play. Oh well, onward and upward…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sanders wasn’t the issue. Parrish didn’t put a hand on the receiver. It was obvious as that game went on that they were going after Parrish.

          In retrospect, we would have been better off on 2nd and 26 blitzing Parrish from the corner.


          • Macallanlover

            If they hadn’t been targeting Parrish that game, the staff at Bama should have been fired. He wasn’t struggling, he was just flat out awful…all game. We should have had him out of there, no one could have been worse that night. We wouldn’t have even been in OT had if Parrish had just been bad in coverage, and picked up a couple of big penalties. His vulnerability was reason enough we should have called a timeout and insured the disaster we saw never came to be. We blew the game before that point, but defending 2nd and 26 should have been easy, but we left the barn door open.

            But I agree, being aggressive against a freshman, especially by taking Parrish out of coverage responsibility, would have been a better option. Giving him time to look over the field and set up was a mistake, just like giving Dobbs a chance to step straight into the throw was against TN on the Hail Mary pass. Playing soft in a passing situation often leads to certain death.


        • ASEF

          We ran the exact same coverage on the same look and play call in the 3rd quarter. That was Tua’s scramble on 3rd and 7.

          There were only two differences in the way Parrish and Sanders played it. On 3rd and 7, Parrish lined up inside the receiver and closer to the line to take away the slant and force a potential throw to the boundary. Sanders lined up about 15 yards off the line of scrimmage.

          On the 2nd and 26, Parrish lines up a bit deeper and outside the receiver. Sanders lines up about 20 yards off the line of scrimmage.

          Otherwise, their motions after the snap are almost identical, especially Sanders. It’s pretty evident that’s how the coaches wanted it played.

          The key to the play was Tua’s throw covering 47 yards before Sanders could cover 15, which was the diagonal length from the hash to the numbers from Tua’s and Sanders respective starting positions on the hash and Smith’s route down the numbers.

          Parrish’s job on that play is to prevent a catch-and-run, trailing underneath. Make Tua throw it over you and expect your teammate to defend the throw over the top.

          That’s classic Smart defense – if a difficult and perfect throw beats you, so be it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • J-DawG

          I need a question answered. Why didn’t Kirby use his time out after the sack and get the defense set properly? Am I wrong for thinking this?


          • Macallanlover

            No. The situation changed so dramatically it needed to be addressed. Given the sudden change, and the stakes involved, it definitely warranted a TO. This is one time you wanted the QB to have time to think about in that environment. He just reacted instinctively, like he would at practice, and it worked for him despite the pressure. And that throw was not difficult at all, few QBs would have had trouble hitting someone that open. He didn’t have anything to fear, or time to fear it.


  4. Those havoc numbers and defensive success rate numbers are somewhat horrifying.


  5. Otto

    Mizzou just beat Purdue 40-37. Purdue is now 0-3 with losses to Eastern Michigan and Northwestern.

    If Purdue can hang 37 on Mizzou, I am sure UGA can score more if needed. UGA wins big if they take care of the football.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thorn Dawg

    The QB/offenses we have faced so far were mostly implementing 3 step drops, which makes rushing the qb pointless.
    Look for the D to have at least four sacks on Saturday.


    • Could definitely happen, but UGA had all of ZERO sacks against Mizzou last season.


      • They run a different offense with Dooley than they did with Heupel. More pro-style than hurry-up. In 2017, they were next to last in FBS in time of possession. So far this year, they rank 22nd. That said, I think four sacks is a bit optimistic. They’ve allowed one sack so far all year. Our ballyhooed offensive line has allowed 4. Lock has a better timer in his head than Fromm does. I still expect Fromm to take more sacks on Saturday than Lock.


    • DawgFlan

      Not seeing it. The coaches and players have been pretty upfront about the defense being what it is – keep ing everything in front of the safeties and using speed of the LBs to make up for less beef and experience up front than they would prefer. I expect the sacks to come primarily from 1-on-1 matchups (likely Walker, Cox) on obvious passing downs, not all-out blitzes.


  7. Otto

    Everyone is talking about sacks, and yes the opponents have been doing quick drops to get the ball out in a hurry to counter the pass rush.

    What I want to see is INTs. It is the stat which could be noticeably higher. Early last year UGA seemed to be getting close to a flurry of INTs but bouncing off finger tips and as the season rolled on the INTs became more common. I am hoping this is the game the flood gates open on the defense getting turnovers.

    Yes I do believe UGA will get more sack as UGA faces QBs who are running plays that take longer to develop.


  8. Greg

    We’ve been playing 2nd and 3rd team guys for almost half the season so far (5 of 12 quarters). That’s going to make any statistical comparisons somewhat misleading.


    • Greg

      ^^^^ Not me!! ^^^^^


    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. We’ve had over 30 defensive players get significant playing time. Kirby can trot out fresh 4 & 5-star studs all day. Just as many here predicted, our depth is literally wearing the other teams out. The bend (but don’t break) is our friend.


  9. This is so funny. This defense has given up 17 points in meaningful minutes (Bentley’s deep ball doesn’t count). All 3 teams decided they didn’t want their QB to stand in the pocket and throw downfield against our defense. We’ll see how bendy this defense is this week. I have a feeling we’re getting ready to see Tucker release the front 7 to GATA.

    Dawgs win big … 48-17.


  10. Cojones

    Lock is good and he still will throw across the middle on short passes as long as you give him the look. Blitz is something he recognizes and will clean our clock with guys running free in the secondary. The best chance that I see we would have is to NOT try to get a sack record, but rather, play the way we have been playing and let him work for his 2-3 tds. While they eat up the clock with their possessions, that ain’t our bag. We scoot with this great O and paste as many on the boards in a short time as we can. When they get into catch-up mode, then clean their plow. If it ends up 42-21 Dawgs, who cares?

    I’ll take Kirby’s word for it as to this QB is not to be messed with, treat him with respect and take whatever their o-line gives us that lets us beat their butts. He won’t be running the game anyway what with the two QBs and WR/TEs that we have who can catch up on a moment’s notice Patience can be our ally as well.


    • Greg

      “Clean their plow”??…..LOL! Ain’t heard that since my ol’ HS coach used it, good memories. Thinks that is more a south GA expression, could be wrong. Another one was “lily white”…..someone who has not been in the game, uniform still white. More, but probably universal, “ring his bell”, “cleaned his clock”, “rocked his jock”…..all I can think of now, I know there is more.

      Can still see him now, with some Red Man in the side of his mouth.


  11. Last year, the defense had to carry the team early while the offense broke in a freshman QB and 3 new starters on the OL.

    I think it’s going to be the opposite this year. Maybe be the end of the year, Tucker and Kirby will have the defense close to where they were last year, but they are awfully leaky up the middle and the ILB are bad in coverage thus far.

    I think we win because we can out run them, but my feeling is that Saturday is going to be rather uncomfortable bc we are going to be in more of a track meet than we are expecting. 41-31 UGA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dawgtired

      This is my call. Locke will hit a few and miss a few. They will get behind, become one dimensional and it will get ugly.
      Everyone is talking about our bend-but-don’t-break D, no pass rush etc. I feel the Dawgs have played ‘containment’ football and since it has been satisfactory to this point. There has been no pressure to breakout anything different.
      We will see a different D, IF, and only IF Mizzu threatens. We have often talked about the Saban/Smart D being a ‘no-blitz-containment’ type D. Remember the Rose Bowl? We played containment for a qtr & a half, then we began our aggression when we realized it wasn’t working. This season will be no different. We will pull out the stops when and where we need to.

      Disclaimer: I apologize to those who are sensitive when first person pronouns are used when we talk about the Dawgs. I know I am not part of the team and have nothing to do with the outcome. I have resisted often when I think of it but I always revert right back to using them. I started to rewrite this post when I realize my error but decided not. I guess I just feel some connection with the team I love. Please over look my vicarious wording and realize that I do know the reality of the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Truth

      They may score 31, but I’m going to be disappointed if we only score 41. I say 55-31.


  12. Russ

    56-28, much like last year. They will move the ball some and score some. We move the ball at will and score at will.


  13. ApalachDawg

    I’m confident that Kirby and Mel can handle Dooley. Dawgs roll to a big win.


  14. ChiliDawg

    You know, I don’t know that them being “patient” will actually help, could actually hurt them. Seth Emerson wrote a piece the other day (you might have linked it) where he put a stopwatch on the plays MTSU ran, from the time the ball was snapped to when the QB let go of the ball. Most of them were only around 1 second – hardly enough time for our guys to get to the quarterback.

    I suspect that if a QB wants to hold the ball and wait for something downfield to open up, it’s going to give De’Andre Walker and co. a lot better chance to get their paws on the QB.


  15. Spike

    Old man football.. Kirby and Mel are on the mutha..