Willie Martinez - September 23, 2009
Arizona St. brings the #1 ranked defense in America to Athens Saturday night......no, ..really, ...they do. Not only that, they rank 5th nationally in scoring defense, 2nd in pass defense and 11th in rush defense. Add to that their #1 ranking in turnover ratio and it becomes pretty obvious that they haven't played anybody.. If your a Idaho St. or La. Monroe supporter....I apologize wholeheartedly.
From an offensive perspective, they are right smack dab in the middle of the rankings in most categories. They are ranked 9th in scoring offense, ....but in all honesty, they should be. I don't see a player on the offense that stands out as being a play maker nor can I find one statistically. The thing that does worry me is the recent performance of the Georgia defense and our propensity to give the ball away at any time. As for Georgia's love affair with yellow flags...A.S.U. ranks only two spots behind the Dogs. The Devils average 10 penalties and 94 yards per game.
On special teams, 2007 Lou Groza award winner Thomas Weber, will not play again after missing last weeks game with a hip pointer. Did I mention that A.S.U. is also #1 in the nation with a kick off return average of 50.5 yards per attempt? Let's hope Georgia's special teams win the field position battle this week with solid returns, ball security and disciplined execution in kick coverage.
Stats can be deceiving and theirs are probably not indicative of their true capabilities. What they are indicative of is the quality of the competition they have played so far. This game with Georgia has been the focus for the Devils since their spring game. I think it's safe to assume Georgia will get their best effort. Georgia, on the other hand, has #7 LSU looming next week in what will likely be a litmus test for the Dogs as legitimate contenders in the SEC.
After starting off lethargically in Stillwater, the Georgia offense has improved steadily each week. Against Arkansas, Georgia produced it's longest drive since 1998 against Florida. The 7:11, 10 play 75 yard masterpiece resulted in a touchdown and gave the defense a much needed rest and time to gather themselves. Georgia also had two more long drives of 80 and 85 yards against Arkansas. Joe and the offense need to continue to hold the ball, work the clock and score TD's instead of FG's.
The defense has gone in the exact opposite direction of the offense. After looking physically dominant and disciplined in Stillwater, they have digressed to the point of being the worst defense in the SEC......statistically speaking. The schedules of some of our SEC brethren probably has a very real influence on the rankings, but the on field performance of Georgia's defense is about all one needs to see to assess our place among the conference's best defenses. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. At this point, I see no reason to believe that we can stop any team consistently, much less Florida and LSWho. The defense is, for the most part, made up of upperclassmen that have played in the system for their entire careers at UGa. Let's scratch inexperience off the list of excuses. Here's why......
- Geno Atkins - 23 starts - 21 consecutive starts
- Jeff Owens - 29 starts - 3 consecutive
- Rennie Curran - 21 starts - 20 consecutive
- Prince Miller - 21 starts - 12 consecutive
- Reshad Jones - 17 starts - 12 consecutive
- Bryan Evans - 14 starts - 3 consecutive
- Darryl Gamble - 9 starts - 3 consecutive
That's a pretty significant amount of experience spread throughout the defense. Dobbs, Houston and Boykin all got playing time last year as did Dent and Dewberry. I hope the solution is as simple as avoiding turnovers and penalties like some seem to think. I'll be watching and hoping I am wrong, ....but from where I sit......the root of our defensive struggles have to do with game plan preparation, in game adjustments, and a lack of accountability for those that have moments of being "scatterbrained".
Win, lose or draw I'll still be yelling "GO DAWGS!".......it's how I roll.