The Georgia Bulldogs’ defense hasn’t exactly started the way it has wanted. They currently rank 46th in scoring defense (21 ppg), 42nd in total defense (345.3 ypg), 57th in rushing defense (145.3 ypg) and 43rd in pass defense (200 ypg), after merely facing two cupcakes and Missouri. Safe to say those numbers won’t please too many head coaches or defensive coordinators through three weeks, keeping in mind the type of competition they have faced.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham lit into his team after Saturday’s performance against FAU. One player described it as “Grantham started cursing out defensive backs, then moved to the linebackers and finally engulfed the entire defense”.
The Bulldogs returned nine of 11 starters from last season’s physically crippling defense, which features arguably the top defensive player in the country in OLB Jarvis Jones, and he knows what they are capable of.
“Me personally, I know how good we are,” junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “Some of the numbers that y’all see, I know they’re not the greatest and they’re not like they were last year, but it’s still early. We haven’t done a lot on defense as far as a lot of our packages and stuff like that. So we’ve still got a lot to put in and there are still a lot of plays out there to be made. It’s just the fourth game of the season.”
Even though nine starters returned, Georgia hasn’t even fielded the complete nine yet, because safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree have yet to see the field and will remain out for another week on suspension.
Georgia has given up 40 first-half points, compared to 23 points in the second half. You can credit the staff and the players for making second-half adjustments and winning football games. But against better SEC competition moving forward, the defense will need faster starts to games, particularly with Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida looming ahead on the schedule.
Grantham knows they can start faster and play for four quarters.
“If you look at the games, we didn’t play in the first half against Buffalo well, but we came back in the second. I think we played pretty good in the Missouri game all the way through. And this past weekend we played better in the second half again,” Grantham said. “So we’ve gotta work to get some consistency and get some guys to just be more consistent in what they’re doing. And if we do that, we’ll play well for four quarters.”
Fast starts are not a necessity to win football games, but Bulldogs will have to start faster and get in better rhythm earlier on defense in at least a couple games this season.
The good thing is that the offense is really firing on all cylinders and picking up the slack for the defense in the first half.