November 13, 2011

Defense creating a buzz



One day after its 45-7 waxing of Auburn, the buzz word around Athens continues to be the play of Georgia's defense, which now ranks fourth in the entire country.

The Bulldogs (8-2, 6-1) enter Saturday's hopeful SEC East clincher against Kentucky (4-6, 0-6) giving up an average of just 273.3 yards per game, behind league rivals Alabama (181.4), LSU (253.2) and Michigan State (259.4).

"We're just playing good and I'm thankful," Richt said during Sunday's weekly teleconference with reporters. "We're doing the things that good defenses need to do, and that's stop the run, most of the time, we're big up front, we're very physical and we play hard."

They're also creating turnovers.

One common denominator in Georgia's last eight games - besides all being victories - is the fact the Bulldogs have won the turnover battle each time.

"We've caused 29 fumbles, most of have been on defense, some on special teams, but we need to recover more. We've just recovered 10, but because we're causing them, it gives you a chance to recover," Richt said. "We're just believing right now. It's been good."

A win over the Wildcats Saturday (12:20, SEC Network) obviously make Richt feel even bigger.

Beat Kentucky and Georgia advances to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2005. The Wildcats dropped a 38-8 decision to Vanderbilt Saturday, but Richt didn't seem that concerned that his players would somehow overlook Joker Phillips' squad considering all that's at stake.

"I think if they don't they'll understand that real quick," Richt said. "I'm sure most of them do. We have to play Kentucky."

The Bulldogs enter the game ranked 13th in this week's Associated Press and 15th in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 polls.

Georgia figures to be relatively healthy for Saturday's game, and that hopefully includes nose tackle Kwame Geathers who had a sprained ankle stiffen up at halftime and did not return for the second half.

"I've not talked to Ron (team trainer Ron Courson), I've actually been recruiting all day because we've got a couple of guys on official visits and I just got back, so I don't know if Kwame is going to have a situation where he can't play," Richt said. "My guess is he'll be able to play. I saw him walking around on it. I don't know if he'll b ready to go tomorrow, that's a wild guess right now to be honest with you. I really don't know. It is a sprain. Sometimes halftime is good if you need a rest and sometimes it's not good if you have some sort of ankle or injury where it will stiffen up on you and let you get going again. I think that's what happened with Kwame."

NOTES: Richt explained the agreement he has reached with basketball coach Mark Fox to allow freshman tight end Jay Rome to play basketball while the football season is still going on. "Coach Fox and I have talked and what we're doing with Jay is on Friday and Saturday, by the time we get to the end of our 20-hour week, we have approximately two hours on Friday and approximately three hours on our game day, that's approximation, give or take," Richt said. "If there's ever a game, we'll work it out. For example, there's a game (Sunday). If he went tonight, that's a day off for football, we would have to make sure one day this week he would be off completely. We're just staying in contact with compliance, basketball, with us, and make sure we keep him within the rules." … Richt said he does not believe that wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (concussion) will play anymore this year. Because he's played in just three games, Wooten is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt.

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