On the surface and to outsiders, the Georgia football defense struggled last week. The Dawgs saw their defense surrender 22 points last week to Kent State. That point total is the most Georgia has allowed in a regular season game since giving up 24 points to Mississippi State in 2020.
The numbers, however, tell a different story. Georgia gave up 93 rushing yards on 30 attempts by the Golden Flashes. South Carolina had 92 rushing yards on 30 attempts compared to the week before. Passing-wise, Kent State threw for 188 yards. Again if we compare it to South Carolina, who threw for 214 yards, it’s an improvement.
The issue with the points boiled down to Georgia’s offense and special teams combining for three turnovers against Kent State to zero turnovers against the Gamecocks.
Football is a team sport. Good offenses affect the defense and vice versa. It is a beautiful game.
Now Georgia is about to start a three-game stretch against the three worst teams in the SEC. First up is Missouri. Missouri is coming off a 17-14 loss at Auburn. The Tigers had multiple opportunities to win the game, but we all know there is something about Jordan Hare Stadium that causes problems for visiting programs.
If Missouri has a bright spot, it is not on offense. Missouri has allowed seven sacks through four games. Sophomore quarterback Brady Cook has thrown for 805 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
So here are the three things Georgia’s defense needs to do to remind the country why they are the No.1 team in the nation.
Georgia football must force more turnovers
So far this season, Georgia has done a decent job of forcing turnovers. The Dawgs have a turnover margin of +4. That number has to improve, and this week there is an opportunity to increase it.
Georgia’s safety play has been phenomenal. Freshman Malaki Starks and senior Chris Smith each have two interceptions. Junior Dan Jackson has added one as well. The only non-safety with an interception is junior linebacker Trezmen Marshall.
Expect the first two names to continue showcasing their ball-hawking skills this Saturday. With what should be a good pass rush, there should be plenty of opportunities to get turnovers.
Georgia football needs to eliminate the screen game
In the second quarter against Kent State, Georgia allowed two massive screenplays. First was a 56-yard touchdown and the other 27 yards to set Kent State up on the Georgia side of the field.
These are plays we have been spoiled and have not seen a Georgia defense allow. The Dawgs’ staple as a defense has been they are in position, and they do not miss tackles.
The tackling will have to improve. With Missouri’s lack of offensive line expect them to attempt to mimic the successful plays Kent State had. If Georgia eliminates the screen game and forces Missouri to play straight up and not side to side, it will be a long night for the Tigers.
Georgia football must play with a chip on their shoulder
Being the defending national champions, you are allowed a mulligan for a game where you did not cover against a program from the MAC. Since it was a noon kick, I will give Georgia the benefit of the doubt on the Kent State game.
However, I do not think any of us believe this coaching staff will be so lenient. This week is a great coaching opportunity for Georgia’s elite staff. Last season until SEC Championship Game, Georgia never had any moment where coaches could question their focus.
There are a lot of new faces, and they all want to make a name for themselves. They want to continue the tradition of Georgia’s dominant defense of 2021. If this defense wants to be thought of and viewed at that next level, there is no better stretch of games than these next three.
The standard has changed at Georgia — allowing 22 points is almost considered a Georgia loss. I expect to see this defense come out and play with laser focus and, in the fourth quarter, have a shot at a shutout.