Ray Drew, photo by Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

Georgia Football: Tuesday Press Conference – Defense


Richt & Grantham, photo by Danny Bishop

Richt & Grantham, photo by Danny Bishop

Georgia head coach Mark Richt and a delegation of players met with the media Tuesday during the Bulldogs’ weekly press luncheon. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt

On the maturation of the defense…

“They’re getting there. Our defense is getting there. I thought we made a lot of progress on first and second down. I thought we won first and second down most of the day, and we got into third and long quite a bit. The problem, obviously, is that we couldn’t get off the field there. If they’re getting first downs on first down and first downs on second down and we can’t even get them to third down, you’re really in trouble. I think we’ve made a lot of progress in stopping the run. We had seven tackles for loss and four sacks (against LSU), so we started to make some good plays. We still have to iron some things out on the perimeter, but that’s just learning, as far as knowing exactly what we want done and how we want it done. There were two plays, quite frankly, where two young safeties weren’t sure what to do at the moment of truth. Should I hit him or should I go for the ball? If I hit him, should I hit him high and get kicked out of the game? I think we were probably thinking too much. I think we over-coached the targeting stuff. I said that you’re allowed to hit them as hard as you want, just don’t hit them in the head and don’t launch at them. Hopefully that will help.”

On the play of the defensive line against LSU…

“Our D line grew up a lot. Chris Mayes played really good, and even Jonathan Taylor got a chance to get in there at nose guard. Sterling Bailey was more stout than he’s been, and it’s just been kind of a gradual thing for him. Ray Drew began to really impose his will a little bit. Garrison Smith has always been playing hard and stout, so we had a lot of guys were tough enough physically and disciplined enough to play their gaps and still come off to make a play. You want everybody to get in the right gap and take care of business in that way, but a lot of times you just like to see a guy beat a double team and make the tackle to make them pay for it every once in awhile. Sometimes your tackles for loss come off a blitz, but a lot of times it’s when a defensive lineman penetrates and makes a play behind the line of scrimmage. As I said early on, this (Tennessee) offensive line is the best I’ve seen. Not that I’ve seen a lot early on this year, but it’s the best one I’ve seen this year. I do think they’re the class of the league and maybe the country when you talk about offensive linemen.”

On defensive line coach Chris Wilson…

“I think Chris is doing a really good job. He’s a very good fundamental coach. He gets on them. He’s very demanding, but he’s a good teacher. The guys really respect him. I think they really understand that he cares about them.”

On the targeting rules…

“I think it’s wise to try to keep the game as safe as possible. I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I know that Tray Matthews in the spring had a natural inclination to go get after that guy and strike him, whether or not it was above the shoulder. I think he has to rethink how he’s going to go about his business, and the more that these guys get trained and get used to it, and the more that at a younger age they understand that type of rule, I think it’ll become more natural to them. Right now, there are a lot of guys trying to undo some things that have come natural to them or at least become a habit.”

On the play of Josh Harvey-Clemons…

“He’s very dynamic in his adversity and his ability to cover and just run out. He has good speed sideline to sideline. If you blitz him, he’s a good pass rusher. He looks tall and skinny and he kind of is tall and skinny, but he’s much bigger than he used to be. He’s much more stout. He can take on blocks, he can take on backs without getting knocked back, and he’s a great special teams guy. Everyone wants him on special teams because he can run and tackle people in space. He’s a big-time guy, and he’s really starting to blossom.”

UGA-vs-LSU0038Defensive End Garrison Smith

On watching the game winning drive against LSU from the sideline…

“It was amazing. [Aaron] Murray looked like Tom Brady out there. He was leading the troops and marching them down the field. They made some big plays, man. That’s what it’s all about. I’m proud of him and that he did that. That was last week though and we have to do something again this week. That’s in the past and we have another game on Saturday and we have to handle business.”

On how the defensive line has embraced Chris Wilson as a coach…

“Everybody is on board. He’s a great guy to be around. He’s a great coach. Everybody is listening to him and that’s the most important thing. We’ve got guys that are really buying in to what he’s been preaching since the spring, when he got here. It’s all clicking. We’re getting better every week. It’s improvement and that’s what it’s come down to every day. We just seem to get better.”

Safety Connor Norman

On relaying signals to the younger players on defense…

“We have a complex defense and guys are learning what to do on certain calls. That’s something that we’re obviously working on, getting guys more familiar with the signals. Amarlo [Herrera] is the signal caller for us but teams move fast so you can’t always relay the signals from Amarlo. That’s definitely something that we’re putting emphasis on.”

On what the defense is doing to improve communication…

“We’re working with the young guys. They’re getting a whole lot thrown at them really fast here. It’s our jobs, as older guys, to help them get more familiar with everything going on. Relaying communication is a big deal out there because guys on the other side of the field aren’t able to look across the sidelines. In the secondary the safeties have to communicate with the corners and the corners have to communicate back with the safeties to make sure that everybody is on the same page.”

On the improvement of the younger players on defense…

“We’ve played four games so far, so they aren’t freshmen anymore. They’re growing up. They’re getting better. Four games in, it doesn’t matter what kind of games they were but guys are going to be more confident with the more games they play. That’s a big part of it, just getting confidence. We have played some great quarterbacks. You tip your hat to the quarterbacks that you play but you have to look back at yourself and see what you can do as a secondary to get better.”

All photos are copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy Photography,
http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

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