September 7, 2009

Lack of turnovers still an issue

From a statistical perspective, Georgia's defense did a fair job holding Oklahoma State to 307 total yards.

But from a turnover standpoint, the numbers just weren't there.

Last year, the Bulldogs ranked 8th in the Southeastern Conference in turnover margin at -0.23, and despite doing a decent job against Cowboys, failed to get the ball back from the OSU offense a single time.

"We had hoped to get some turnovers that we could capitalize on, we didn't, they did," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "They had two that they turned into points and we didn't get any to help our offense out."

The absence of turnovers was quite a change from the preseason when coaches said that players were creating mistakes on an almost daily basis in practice.

"Bottom line, we could have played better," Martinez said. "We didn't do enough to help our team win."

Defensive tackle Jeff Owens pretty much agreed.

"It was real frustrating that we couldn't force the turnovers," Owens said. "That's something we've talked about doing, but didn't get it done."

So how do they?

According to Owens, it's all about playing good, aggressive defensive football and just be willing to do whatever it takes.

Mistakes notwithstanding:

Fumbles by Carlton Thomas and Joe Cox set OSU up at the Bulldog 24- and 32-yard line respectively, resulting in 10 points, while a 74-yard kickoff return by Perrish Cox to start the third quarter led to another short touchdown drive.

"We could have made one more stop, we could have held on one more fourth down, we could have blocked a field goal," Owens said. "We've just got to get better."

According to Martinez, that means getting the best players on the field at the same time.

One way Martinez plans on doing that is to keep getting defensive tackle Geno Atkins snaps at defensive end.

"He's going to do both," Martinez said of Atkins, who lined up with Owens and Kade Weston. "We don't have enough depth there but Geno was going to play in there anyway. We've got to get the best players on the field any way we can."

If that's true, look for sophomore Marcus Dowtin and perhaps cornerback Vance Cuff to get some more time.

Dowtin tied Rennie Curran for the team high in tackles with eight, while Cuff broke up a pass, nearly sacked quarterback Zac Robinson, and finished with five tackles. Two came when the Bulldog defense held the Cowboys to a field goal following Thomas' fumble at the 6-yard line.

"That was a good job of holding them to a field goal. Heck yeah, that was a good job by the defense," Martinez said. "That's what you're supposed to do, hold them to a field goal when the ball gets turned over, or if you have bad field position. We had another chance to do it at the end there. We're not going to give any excuses. There were a lot of things that didn't go in our favor, but we didn't execute when we had the opportunity. Bottom line, we didn't play good enough."

Owens said that's something that's something that has to change against the Gamecocks Saturday night.

"We've just got to play football," he said. "We've got to go out and make stops; that's the main thing. I don't care where the ball's at. We (the defense) just need to make plays."

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