October 1, 2011

Defense does it again

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham isn't one to get caught up in statistics.

In fact, you might even go as far as to say he disdains them - except for one - the final score.

So, no matter how many times you mention the mere 213 yards gathered by Mississippi State or the five sacks of quarterback Chris Relf, the Bulldogs' 24-10 win was the only "stat" that really mattered to him.

"We just keep playing. I believe you play as hard as you can, OK?" Grantham said. "When you get done with that play, you play the next one as hard as you can. When that series is over, you come over and attack the next one the same way. I think we should enjoy this game because the players have a lot to be proud of, but come Monday its back to work and time to get ready for another tough game on the road."

But although Grantham may not have been willing to offer up much hyperbole regarding his defense's play, head coach Mark Richt didn't have such trouble.

"The defense was the story of the day. (Mississippi State) really couldn't get anything going," Richt said. "Our boys up front are really getting the job done. Coach Grantham is doing a great job of making the right calls and we're executing well."

After Saturday's effort, Georgia will likely continue its rise up some pretty lofty defensive charts.

The Bulldogs came into play as the conference's sixth-best team against the run, a stat that will be going down after holding MSU to just 56 rushing yards.

Georgia did nothing to hurt its second-place standing against the pass, allowing MSU quarterbacks to complete just 19 of 33 passes for 157 yards, which is good considering next week's opponent Tennessee, came into play Saturday as the league's top throwing team averaging 334.7 yards through the air.

"We're definitely improving every week," linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "If we've needed to stop the run, we've stopped the run. If we've needed to stop the pass, we've stopped the pass. We're playing hard and we're playing fast. I definitely think we left it on the field today."

The numbers have definitely been impressive.

Following their 59-0 shutout of Coastal Carolina, the Bulldog defense was responsible for just seven points in last week 27-13 win at Ole Miss and only surrendered a field goal to Mississippi State with the lone touchdown scoring on a 72-yard interception return.

"They keep playing no matter the situation that comes up - good or bad - they keep playing. They understand what's happening out there, they're focused in and they're doing a great job," Grantham said. "They're playing as team. It takes 11 guys to play and if you get 11 guys playing you can usually do good things."

So, it seems, are the sacks.

After collecting just one sacks over its first three game, Georgia has now recorded eight in its last two, including two each by Jones and Cornelius Washington with nose Jonathan Jenkins coming through with the fifth.

"You want sacks, but when people were complaining about them it was a totally difference concept," said Grantham, whose defense also claimed a pair of takeaways on interceptions by Shawn Williams and Sanders Commings. "Quarterbacks were able to get rid of the ball quick. Now, there's coverage and he's had to hold onto the ball. When you hold the ball, guys are getting their rush and that's when sacks come. Most of the time unless a guy misses the side on a blitz, the guy (quarterback) is going to get the ball out and when it gets out you've got to make the tackle. These last few games, it's been more where the guy has had to hold onto the ball due to what we're doing at the back end."

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