Georgia Football: Defense


Amarlo Herrera, photo by Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

Amarlo Herrera, photo by Sonny Kennedy, http://www.sonnykennedyphotography.com/

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 challenges of defending Auburn…

“It’s not really triple option football, but fundamentally, if a team’s quarterback can run the football, that is one less free defender who can try to make a tackle. So let’s say that if you have 10 blockers and a quarterback that runs, there’s a blocker for 10 guys obviously, and a runner, so there’s only one unblocked guy that can make a play. So you have to stay in your gap, you have to defeat blocks and you have to come off of a block and make a tackle, and that’s very similar to trying to defend what happens with Georgia Tech. They’re accounting for just about every single guy on your team. For us, when Aaron Murray hands the ball off, Murray’s not a threat to run. So now they really have two unblocked defenders. We have nine blockers, in essence, because Murray’s not blocking. So we have nine blockers and a runner, so now they have two free guys. One of those guys can roll right down in the box and be a free hitter right in the box in the run area. Whereas with a team like (Auburn), if you’re going to tackle a guy in the box, somebody’s got to defeat a block. There are no unblocked guys. There may actually be two unblocked guys, but one of them has to be responsible for the quarterback on a zone read. He runs that zone read, and if that guy decides to tackle the back, the only guy left is the free safety a mile deep to tackle the quarterback. So there’s someone that has to be responsible for him every single play, and that’s true of when we play Georgia Tech. The main similarity is that they’re dedicated to running the ball and they have a quarterback who is a dangerous runner. You have to account for him.”

On continued improvements to the Georgia defense…

“We’ve been pretty good at slowing down the run. We haven’t really stopped anybody’s run, but we’ve done a pretty good job against the run. We’ve done a pretty good job, like I’ve said before, of getting people into third-and-mediums and third-and-longs. We were having a lot of issues on third down situations. This is the kind of game that even if you’re having success slowing down the run, they’re still going to move the ball, they’re still going to get first downs and they’re still going to have a lot of third-and-mediums and third-and-short situations. It’s just by virtue of the way they do it, and it’s going to be hard to keep them from reducing the yardage on third down and having that run-pass threat on third down. That’s part of the reason why they’re so successful – they have very few third-and-long situations unless there’s a penalty. Every once in awhile, there will be a sack on a first or second down, but that just doesn’t happen very often. It really doesn’t matter what we did in the past. It matters what we do Saturday, and hopefully we’ll get them on the ground.”

On the Georgia defense…

“I just think everybody is playing their responsibilities better. I think we’re tackling better, and I think we’re starting to come together and make improvements as a whole. We’ll continue to do that.”

On Georgia defensive ends coach Chris Wilson…

“Chris is a hard-nosed ball coach, which we’re kind of used to around here, and at that position you have to be. He’s a great communicator, and I think he really shows our guys that he cares about them as a person. He just relates well to them. I think you’ve got to gain their respect by letting them know that you mean business and whatever you say and ask them to do, you hold them accountable to do it. Chris is really good at that. Obviously he’s been a coordinator before and he knows football, so I think they have a lot of respect for his knowledge. When I first started coaching, I was really worried about the guys listening to me. I was a young coach, and what I learned was that I had learned enough in college from my coaches and running a pro system and being in a couple of NFL camps. I learned that if I had some knowledge that I could give them that would help them be a better player, they liked that and they respected that. They were gravitated towards that, and Coach Wilson has all of those things.”

On facing former Georgia defensive ends coach Rodney Garner…

“I don’t really think much about it. I’ve got a high level of respect for Rodney, but all week long I’m not thinking about him. I hope to see him before the game and shake his hand and do all that and hopefully afterwards, as well. Rodney did great for us, and he’s a great coach, great recruiter and great husband, father and person. I have a very high regard for Rodney.”

On Coach Garner’s decision to leave Georgia and return to his alma mater at Auburn…

“That was one of those where it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about whatever, but it was just about whether he wanted to go home to his college team. I kind of got the feeling from the very beginning that this was going to be it. He may not have said it right away, but I had a pretty strong suspicion that he was very attracted to them this time around. He’s had some other opportunities to go back home or back to Auburn, but this time I think just had a different overall tone to it. I thought that the first time I spoke to him, there was a pretty good chance that he was going to take it.”

On the recruiting process of Auburn freshmen Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson…

“I think Carl was kind of in the house by the time Coach Garner made the decision, but Montravius had not decided. So I think Montravius’ decision probably had a lot to do with Coach Garner being there. I think Carl was probably already going.”

Inside Linebacker Amarlo Herrera

On defending Auburn’s rushing attack…

“We just have to play football like we’ve been playing the whole time. We can’t allow people to run the ball on us. That’s what we’ve been doing well so we just have to stick to doing that.”

On playing assignment defense to prevent big plays…

“That’s with anything. It’s like that with people running the power [rushing]. If you don’t do the right thing then they get a big play. We just need to play football. We need to know what we have to do and just play physical.”

On if facing teams like Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern in the past can help prepare for Auburn’s rushing attack…

“I think so. All of it centers around the same concept because you have to be disciplined. So in that sense it helps because you have to be disciplined. It will be fun because I won’t have to run around a lot. I get to play football and hit somebody every play and not have to cover as much as I do in other weeks because you know they’re going to run the ball.”

On how he feels physically with the amount of snaps that he has played…

“I feel good, man. I feel good. I love football. This is the only time I get to play and I’ve waited all year for this. So now I feel good.”

Safety Connor Norman

On stopping Auburn’s return unit…

“I feel like special teams’ biggest thing is always effort. If everybody on the field is out there putting in a lot of effort then the spaces will go away. With kickoff if you’re single blocking we just have to get off the block and we can’t get taken up by just one guy. Other than that we just have to run and contain the guy. They’re obviously talented returners. They hit it hard on kickoff and punt. They make quick decisions too. They’re fast and that’s the biggest thing. Most of the returners in the SEC are all fast and if you give them space then they’re going to make something happen.”

On if the special teams unit has turned a corner mentally…

“I think so. Obviously you never know but we try and stay focused and eliminate those mistakes, especially in a game like this. We can’t have anything happen, so it’s going to be a challenge and we’ll have to focus on executing. We had a good game last week and our defense stepped up big with one blocked [field goal] and one missed field goal, so that was big. I think the defense has come a long way too. Everyone sees it every week that we keep getting better and better. We just have to keep making strides and not taking any steps back.”

 

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