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Friday, September 25, 2009

UGA Notes: D Line Looks For Pressure

While the secondary has gotten the majority of the blame for Georgia’s defensive problems the past two weeks, defensive tackle Jeff Owens said his unit will be the key to shutting down the opposition’s passing attack.

“It starts with getting more sacks up front,” Owens said. ‘I think we’re nowhere near where we can be, and we need to get over that hump to get where we can be. But we’re going to keep progressing and just get better because we’re not where we want to be right now.”

Through three games, Georgia has recorded just four sacks, despite opponents throwing the ball or using the quarterback as a runner on more than 70 percent of their offensive plays the past two weeks.

Georgia finished last season ranked 11th in the SEC in sacks, with the bulk of its success coming in non-conference games against Arizona State and Michigan State. The Bulldogs worked on the pass rush this offseason, but so far the results haven’t shown up on the field.

“It gets frustrating after all the effort and time you put into it during the offseason, you think you’re going to come out and have a better season than last year,” defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. “But it’s still early on. It gets frustrating, but we just have to keep grinding and try to go make a play.”

Part of the problem, Dobbs said, is that the group hasn’t been able to function at full capacity often this season.

Starting defensive end Justin Houston missed the first two games of the season with a suspension, and Owens and fellow defensive tackle Geno Atkins were forced to rush off the edge for nearly 60 snaps during the first two weeks.

Dobbs said the group showed some signs of improvement last week – sacking quarterback Ryan Mallett twice – but that more time together will be a key in getting the pass rush going on a consistent basis.

“We have to be able to mesh as a group,” Dobbs said. “Sometimes we’re getting pressure from the edge and people aren’t in the middle and we lose contain. But it takes chemistry, and you have to know the other person’s strength and when to cover somebody. It will come in time.”


It was against Arizona State last season that wide receiver A.J. Green had his first breakout performance – racking up 150 receiving yards in the first half.

Since then, Green hasn’t surprised too many defenses, and as the sophomore continues to compile big games, even his quarterback thinks there’s a chance Green will go down as the best receiver to play at Georgia.

“He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Joe Cox said. “He’s an incredible playmaker, and he could end up being one of the best players that ever played here.”

As to what makes Green so impressive, head coach Mark Richt said it’s hard to identify just one thing. The beauty of having Green is that he does everything so well.

“When you take his combination of height and the range of his arms, his speed and agility; a lot of guys who are tall might be fast and can make a play on a deep ball, but A.J. can out-jump people, he can run by people,” Richt said. “He can make them miss, and he’s becoming a pretty darn good blocker. There isn’t much that you’d ask a receiver to do that he can’t do well. He’s pretty good, and I’m glad we have him.”


After earning just one snap during the first two games, freshman receiver Rantavious Wooten saw a big increase in his workload against Arkansas last week.

While Wooten was targeted for just one throw and ran a sweep that failed to gain, he was in on a number of plays, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that’s a trend that will continue this week.

“We’ve just got to play some of those guys and Wooten has done a good job at practice,” Bobo said. “He’s extremely quick and explosive and does a nice job running routes. He hasn’t had many opportunities to catch the ball. We tossed him a sweep. But you’ll see more of him this week just because of our number issue at receiver.”


With tailback Caleb King sidelined for Georgia’s first two games, the burden of being the counterpunch for starter Richard Samuel fell to redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas.

The results so far have been mediocre, at best. The 5-foot-7 tailback has mustered just 25 yards on 10 carries, including one fumble. Thomas has been far more successful as a receiver, catching two passes for 18 yards – utilizing his elusiveness in space to his benefit.

Now that King is back, running backs coach Bryan McClendon said the team would like to find ways to better utilize Thomas, but he said it’s still essential that his freshman tailback learn all the intricacies of the position.

“There’s definitely things Carlton can do, but Carlton needs to work on being a guy that can get in there and we can run everything with him,” McClendon said. “That’s the focus he needs to take. We need to get him ready to go every play if he has to. There are definitely things he can do, but we want to make sure he knows everything come Saturday.”


Georgia has trailed by double digits in the first quarter in each of its past two games, and the Bulldogs have won both. The common denominator, according to tight end Aron White, is the guy doing all the talking in the huddle.

Against South Carolina, the Bulldogs’ offense barely saw the field in the first quarter, and a special-teams turnover cost Georgia an early possession last week as well, but White said Cox has been calm, cool and collected each time – a bit asset in coming back from behind.

“Joe’s just extremely lighthearted when he’s in the huddle,” White said. “He came back into the huddle, just smiling, some words of encouragement, and we see his confidence and that does a lot to motivate guys and take some of the pressure off.”


Although Marlon Brown has yet to see any significant action, Bobo said he’s still expecting the freshman receiver to be a contributor to Georgia’s offense before the season is done.

“Marlon is starting to show some progress,” Bobo said. “Marlon is working hard, and we’re not at all disappointed with Marlon. I think Marlon has as much potential as anybody we’ve got on this team, it’s just a matter of him understanding what’s going on and learning how to do things.”


With the Pac-10’s Arizona State making its first trip to Athens this weekend, linebacker Rennie Curran was asked which team outside the SEC he would most like to play. He said he’d like to stay in the Pac-10, but set his sights a little higher.

Southern Cal because they are respected across the nation and they get a lot of hype,” Curran said. “Also, because of the kind of program they have. I was hoping we would get them a couple years ago in the Sugar Bowl, but they had their rule with the Rose Bowl. I think that would have been bigger than the National Championship.”


Richt said he expects a high number of recruits to be visiting Athens this week, but it’s next week’s matchup against LSU that’s the really hot ticket.

“From what we’re hearing, there’s an awful lot of interest in this LSU game already,” Richt said. “It’s probably more than we can handle. There’s only so many that can get in, so it’s probably going to be tough to get everybody in who wants to get in.”


Anonymous said...

I think we've found our answer as to why our defense struggles, we've been doing the minimum.

From the ABH:

"We need to start watching film on our own," Evans said. "The (NCAA) 20-hour rule kind of limits us with our coaches. I think that's something we have to do as a secondary is watch more film on our own with each other."

Anonymous said...

It starts with getting more sacks up front,” Owens said. ‘I think we’re nowhere near where we can be, and we need to get over that hump to get where we can be. But we’re going to keep progressing and just get better because we’re not where we want to be right now.”

At least Jeff Owens can still talk the talk. If the offense continues to improve like it has and continues to put up good numbers I fear the defense may just adopt an attitude similar the the team attitude of last year. You know, "Stafford and Moreno will bail us out". This year could be "we have confidence in Joe and the offense" to bail us out. I sure hope not.

UGA69Dawg said...

Evans comment just re-enforces what many of us thought, our coaches don't indirectly require the same kind of overall commitment from UGA players that the top-tier teams do. It truly is voluntary at UGA and even if you are first team you don't have to watch any stinken film. No wonder the DB's are getting toasted and the DL can't tell a real run from a fake. We can't make them do the work but the coaches don't have to play them if they don't. Wow