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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Hits Back on the Menu

Every now and then, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez will sit his defensive backs down and have them watch film of some of the most impressive hits Georgia safeties have dished out over the years.

If the highlights aren't shown often enough, however, safety Reshad Jones said he'll take the time to look them up on YouTube. Watching what the Bulldogs' nastiest tacklers have done in the past provides a nice bit of motivation for the future, he said.

Against Oklahoma State last Saturday, Jones and fellow safety Bryan Evans added two of their own teeth-rattling tackles to the highlight reel, and Jones said it was an important step in reinventing Georgia's defense after a long 2008 season.

“Coach has been preaching that we need to be more physical and just set the tempo and show people how Georgia safeties are known for playing," Jones said. "So that’s what we wanted to do.”

Evans was the first to deliver a hit worthy of SportsCenter highlights that night.

Quarterback Zac Robinson appeared to have completed a pass to wideout Dez Bryant near the sideline, but Evans had a beat on the receiver from the beginning.

“That guy is so fast already that when he gets moving, it’s dangerous when he hits anything,” Curran said of Evans.

As the ball arrived in Bryant's hands, so, too, did Evans, who laid a devastating hit on the receiver, dislodging the ball which fell harmlessly to the ground for an incompletion.

“There was a lot of talk about me being an undersized safety and they didn’t know if I was going to be a physical safety," Evans said. "That’s something that I wanted to step up to the challenge and face. Reshad is already a pretty hard hitter, so I was just trying to match his intensity, and hopefully that will send a message to a couple of other teams that watch the film.”

Jones may be a hard-hitter, but even he admits, his reputation is more of a playmaker than a punishing tackler in the mold of Georgia greats like Thomas Davis and Greg Blue. But that doesn't mean Jones didn't want to get in on the act against the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State was driving early in the fourth quarter, up by a touchdown. Robinson found a receiver open down the middle and lobbed a pass to Justin Blackmon that was just a touch high. Jones closed quickly and drove his shoulder into Blackmon with authority, breaking up the pass and drawing gasps from the crowd.

It was textbook, his coaches later told him, but the official tossed a flag on the field and whistled Jones for unnecessary roughness anyway.

“I think that was my hardest hit since I’ve been here," Jones said. "I was shocked when I saw (the flag). I don’t know what else they wanted me to do, but after I talked to the coaches they said it wasn’t a flag and I felt pretty good.”

No punishment was handed down by the coaches for Jones' penalty, which turned out to be significant as Oklahoma State scored just three plays later. It was a good, clean hit, Martinez said, and it was just what the coaching staff had been looking for.

“You want to be able to run to the football and play with energy and establish an identity that we want to be a physical football team," Martinez said. "You always want to see that.”

The beauty of the big hits, Martinez said is that the effects resonate long after they have been delivered.

For one, a particularly awe-inspiring tackle can be a momentum changer, and as linebacker Rennie Curran said, the punishing blows get the rest of the team fired up.

"I love seeing that from my safeties – guys playing hard-nosed," Curran said. "Since Greg Blue, Thomas Davis, we need safeties back there with that hungry mentality that will take your head off.”

As exciting as it is for their teammates to see a big hit, Jones knows it can be just as demoralizing for the opposition -- not just during that game, but even down the road.

“I think watching film, it sends a message to the other guys," Jones said, "and you’re going to see a lot more of that this year.”


Anonymous said...

David: Can you confirm or deny the rumor that Logan starts this weekend because of some new or old injury to Cox? is reporting rumblings of that.

genxdawg said...


"No punishment was handed down by the coaches for Jones' penalty, which turned out to be significant as Oklahoma State scored just three plays later. It was a good, clean hit, Martinez said, and it was just what the coaching staff had been looking for."


HamDawg11 said...

I'm ecstatic to see these kind of hits from our safeties again. We've been expecting it out of Reshad for 3 years now, and he's finally living up to his potential. As for Evans, I think it was a great move to put him deep. Yeah, he got toasted at OK State, but he's too good of an athlete to not have out there. Bryant made a super catch to score that TD; Evans will learn from this. He's a DGD that's willing to lay himself on the line to punish opposing receivers. He'll make some big plays for us back there this year. If he picks one off, watch out!!