“They’re doing this to offenses that are used to scoring.”

That’s Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendall Briles, talking about Georgia’s defense.  He had more to say:

“Because they’re so good inside, you want to try to get the ball on the perimeter, but their space guys are great in space,” Briles said. “That’s what makes it so hard. They tackle so well in space. They get off blocks in space. They run so well to the football, and they get there angry. When they hit you, your players remember how it feels when you get hit by Georgia.”

That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?  Georgia has depth, talent and plays fundamentally sound defense.  That will take you a long way.

What’s interesting in this Chris Low piece (read it all, of course) is what steps Kirby Smart took to fine tune the scheme this season.

What’s not the same about this defense, according to Smart, is the way Georgia is playing more zone and not getting caught up in trying to match up all the time. The defensive staff made a conscious effort to simplify things this offseason.

They call it “Blackboard,” and the concept doesn’t change regardless of how much offenses shift, motion or line up in different formations. Smart credits his defensive staff for tweaking the scheme to help avoid some of the confusion that hurt Georgia a year ago.

“We still have the hard calls, but we added easy calls and we’ve been in the easy calls more than the hard calls,” Smart said. “We didn’t throw things out. We’re just not doing them as often.”

As I’ve mentioned before, some of that was no doubt driven by the personnel losses in the secondary.  I also think the Addae addition to the staff contributed to the thinking Smart describes there.

I also found this comparison revealing:

Smart has seen the game evolve greatly in the past decade. He was on the field in 2011 as Alabama’s defensive coordinator when LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime. There were 28 defensive players in that game — 14 on each side — who would go on to be drafted, including 10 first-rounders.

But it was much more of a possession game back then, and tempo and run-pass options weren’t ingrained in offenses the way they are now.

“Both of those offenses at the time were bully offenses, and what a good defense is made up of now is not what a good defense was made up of then,” Smart said. “You have the same situational principles — short-yardage, goal-line and all those things. But the makeup is so different. You have to be able to give people negative plays to get them behind the sticks. You have to be more disruptive whereas back then I felt like you could out-physical people.”

What Georgia is doing now — 53 points (46 by the defense) yielded in eight games — is off the charts, when you consider the present era of offensive football as context for the performance.  What’s most impressive about that to me is Smart’s confidence in scheming and talent evaluation almost makes him sound like it was expected all along.  Hell, for all I know, maybe it was.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

56 responses to ““They’re doing this to offenses that are used to scoring.”

  1. practicaldawg

    Playing zone more is probably a luxury Kirby has created by recruiting so much speed, especially at LB. You saw it on the Dean pick 6. When you have LBs who are that fast, they can just kind of squat back there in a zone and instantly zip to any place they need to once they read the QB.


    • classiccitycanine

      Traditionally, I think it’s been the opposite. You play man when you have the best athletes and zone when you don’t (obviously a bit oversimplified). We’re doing zone because our super athletes were still getting beat by great offenses and it seems to be working quite well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Biggen

    It really is spectacular. We have given up just 53 points through 8 games. The next closest team to us is Cincy which has given up 114 points and they have played some really baaaad teams.

    Think about that… We have given up under half the points the #2 defense in the nation has and they play in the G5. It’s comical how good this defensive unit is. 6.6 points per game is our average!!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Bulldawg Bill

      Aww, don’t take it so hard, Biggy!!! We still have to play Mizzou, ChaSo, Vowels, and Yech. It’ll get better!


    • gastr1

      6.6 is the average points against. The “defensive points allowed” (noting that this stat doesn’t exist, but SHOULD–would not count points scored on the offense or on kickoffs & punts; xpts–ok, the D is on the field for those, and if they get a 2-point runback, the D gets credit) is 46, or 5.75.

      I also approve of the not-yet-existent “NET DEFENSIVE POINTS ALLOWED,” which would deduct points the defense scored from the total it allowed. In this category, opposing offenses lead the Georgia defense 46-23. Dawgs’ “net defensive points allowed” is 23, or 2.875 ppg. L.O.L.

      I love this, every hairy, stinky, spittle-y, dawg-y bit of it.

      Liked by 5 people

  3. The Truth

    Nakobe Dean’s comments in the Low article is what has me putting away my inner Munson — even though it is going kicking and screaming.

    This team has the chemistry/character quality of the 2017 team in spades, but that is attached to a D with talent and depth for the ages.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Texas Dawg

      That 2017 defense was great, but it did not have the depth that this team has that allows them to stay fresh and ready when their rotation comes up. In 2017 we had Michel, Chubb, and Swift (and Holyfield) in the backfield. Ridiculous depth that kept coming at you in waves. They were always rested and hungry. Any injury was a hit but not devastating. That’s now what we have at almost EVERY position on the defense.

      Liked by 1 person

    • gastr1

      It really has become a defining question for me: can anyone score on this d this year? Who makes it to 21?

      I think we get closer to that answer after Tennessee.


  4. Derek

    I like how they’ve applied option principles to pass defense. Use the other teams rules against them. If you know they are going to do something based on a read, give them the thing that hurts the least and let/help them take it. And as a bonus you know exactly where the ball is going.

    If you watch they will basically show the other team that we are gifting them the 3 yard hitch on say 2nd and 11.

    And they know the other teams qb is wired to throw it there. So we line up. Make the offense choose where they’re going. No yards after catch. Simple. Now its 3rd and 8.

    Its really a thing of beauty. Same basic idea led to Dean’s pick six.

    Lay off. Get safety help. Show the qb the easy completion and then strike!

    Liked by 15 people

  5. rigger92

    That was a great read.

    Kirby probably can’t say this out loud, but I will. Not only is our D roster talented, the way they play leads me to believe that they are probably more intelligent than average.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You have a 3.5+ mechanical engineering major making all of the calls and adjustments (I think R was another one of those kind of guys just in economics instead). Every one of these guys on defense seem to have a high football IQ. Combine that with their degree of hustle and fundamentals. That’s a recipe for a championship-quality defense.

      Liked by 8 people

  6. theotherdoug

    “We still have the hard calls, but we added easy calls and we’ve been in the easy calls more than the hard calls,” Smart said. “We didn’t throw things out. We’re just not doing them as often.”

    Translation: When you got the Jimmy and Joes you don’t need the X’s and O’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    John Wooden finally hit his stride at UCLA when he learned: you don’t prepare for that week’s opponent, you prepare for the ideal opponent all the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Anon

    Read it on the internet someplace so must be true. UGA D has given up 5 TDs and scored 3 TDs??

    Liked by 1 person

  9. wfdawg

    I know it’s in our nature to wring our hands as UGA fans, but folks, don’t forget to enjoy this season and in particular, this defense. As Kirby himself said, “We’ve also got a front seven that may not happen again for a while in college football.”

    Liked by 10 people

  10. Texas Dawg

    After the standard that this defense has set this year, I feel sorry for the defense the next few years. They may lead the SEC and NCAA in every category, but we will still compare them to this bunch. No fair but a reality.


  11. “What Georgia is doing now — 53 points (46 by the defense) yielded in eight games — is off the charts, when you consider the present era of offensive football as context for the performance.”
    Absolutely true Senator.


  12. PTC DAWG

    It’s been a thing of beauty, too bad we ain’t played nobody.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. Kirby’s just a recruiter. Kirby can’t coach. But err’body gonna be all over Kirby this off season to get his thoughts and notes…including Nicky. Josh better open the checkbook more to keep Lanning.

    Liked by 3 people

    • siskey

      He has been here for a while now. I wonder if he will leave or if he will do like Kirby and wait until a really big job opens up. I am more concerned with Monken. Given his age and the amount that we can pay him I hope he stays for the duration and becomes a Norm Chow to Kirby’s Pete Carroll.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t think Lanning is going anywhere unless it’s to a head coaching job that he sees as a fit or to the NFL as a DC (doubtful).


  14. The change in coverage, which I’ve heard Kirby mention a couple of times goes back to last year’s Florida game and the wheel routes.

    They realized all the checks and communication were too much with all the shifts and motions.

    Kirby is very self aware as a coach and it’s a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    Anyone else see a connection between Clemson, Arkansas, and Kentucky?

    These are good football teams y’all. They really are, even with Clemson’s hilarious struggles.

    What happened to all of them?


    Look at what’s happened to all of these teams after playing Georgia. We broke their spirits! We ate their souls!

    We destroyed Ukelele, a guy who shredded two pretty good defenses last year. We absolutely ruined that kid.

    Look at Arkansas. They came in beating a couple of good teams, undefeated and ranked in the Top-10, and they left us broken now scrambling to hope to make a bowl game.

    Look at Kentucky. They came in the second best rushing team in the SEC with the league’s leading rusher. Now Chris Rodriguez has 15 yards in his last two games.

    We’re Wyatt Earp, y’all!

    Liked by 5 people

  16. I mean…Nolan Smith and Adam Anderson come off the bench! They’re almost freakish mixes of 90s to early 2000s safety and modern LB. Smith is incredibly versatile. He’s one of a few guys who make this D so versatile and able to cover so much of the field with speed, strength and athleticism.


  17. uga97

    Doubling down in Defense while simultaneously flicking a fat bird at the TV & media mogules for trying to force more passing & scoring through the targeting rules.


  18. classiccitycanine

    My three keys to this year were
    A. Get the offense fully operational
    B. Get more out of our five stars
    C. Retool the defense

    I’m glad to see that the retooling has gone quite well. I think it’s also helped us get more out of our five stars like Smith, Walker, Anderson, etc.


  19. Munsoning

    “They run so well to the football, and they get there angry. When they hit you, your players remember how it feels when you get hit by Georgia.”

    Hell. Yeah.

    They get there in gangs, too. Nearly always three or four tacklers pummeling the ball carrier. You love to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. rigger92

    What happened to those Venn diagrams after the games? Your source go away?


  21. “When they hit you, your players remember how it feels when you get hit by Georgia.”