November 12, 2011

Defense 'On the bus'



Georgia entered Saturday's game with rival Auburn boasting the SEC's third-rated defense, seventh best in the entire country.

Following the Bulldogs' effort in a 45-7 trouncing of No. 24 Auburn, look for Todd Grantham's squad to move up another notch or two.

Auburn came into play with the second-ranked rushing offense in the SEC, but was limited to a mere 51 by the Bulldogs, who only allowed 195 total yards the entire afternoon.

Count head coach Mark Richt among those impressed.

"Gosh, it's a lot more fun to coach when you've got a great defense playing the way our guys are playing. They make up for a lot of deficiencies … it just helps you iron things out," Richt said. "We're definitely not perfect on that side of the ball, we're still ironing out things here and there, but they're playing good, they're playing physical, they're playing fast."

Grantham had few complaints himself.

For the eighth-straight contest, Georgia won the turnover battle, forcing two fumbles and recording an interception which Bacarri Rambo returned 24 yards for a touchdown.

Ironically, for as well as the Bulldogs have played this fall, it was the first defensive score for Georgia all year.

"We've got a saying where, there' s a things we've been talking about - everybody jump on the bus. The bus was the optimism for the season. The next things we talk about is the lights, and what the lights represent is maintaining your focus - both good and bad. When things are going well, don't worry about the distractions; just focus on the task at hand. The last thing is the whistle. The whistle represents seize the moment," Grantham said. "The thing we've been talking about all week is just understand the moment, because to win a championship, it's great, but it's more about the journey. That's what you're going to remember is the journey and we've put ourselves in position in the game next week to play for the SEC Championship."

Once again, Grantham's knack for making adjustments on the fly paid huge dividends for the Bulldogs.

After Auburn drove 76 yards on just eight plays during its first possession to tie the game at 7-7 on a 4-yard pass from C.J. Uzomah to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, Georgia's defense allowed just 119 yards the rest of the way.

"Todd's a very outstanding student of the game. He studies defenses as good or better than anybody I've been around. He will have a plan and he will understand what needs to get done, but he'll also make it as simple to understand as he can," Richt said. "He understands tendencies, he understands formation personnel groups, different guys in the game, the two or three things that can happen. He just knows the percentages and he's got fire in his belly. He's doing a great job."

Cornerback Sanders Commings said he and the rest of Georgia's defensive players will run through whatever wall Grantham asks them to.

"It's a great feeling, an amazing experience," Commings said. "We're definitely enjoying the ride."

A win next week against Kentucky (12:20, SEC-TV) and the Bulldogs will ride right into the SEC Championship game.

After his team's win over Florida Saturday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told reporters "We'll see if Georgia can win when they need to."

Grantham was incredulous when asked to respond.

"Well, we won the game didn't we? I think that answers that question," Grantham said. "Truthfully, the next game is the biggest game. We're playing for the SEC Championship. This one put us in position, so next week is the big game. It's for the SEC East championship so we're going to have to get ready to play."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.