Georgia football: D'Andre Walker leads the way in finally getting to the quarterback
The number jumped off Georgia’s cumulative statistics sheet, an outlier surrounded by a ton of gaudy figures.
The Bulldogs were 3-0 and routing everybody. But there was that one number — that number one — in the sacks column that didn’t make sense. Only one sack in three games? With all that speed? With all that talent?
It’s hard to find much to complain about when you’re the No. 2 team in the country, but the sack number, sort of by default, became a talking point.
And the Bulldogs’ pass rushers didn’t like it one bit.
“That’s all we heard about, and it kind of set the standard for us and our coaches,” Georgia outside linebacker D’Andre Walker said. “I knew all we had to execute on the defensive end and eventually the pressure would get there.”
Walker took things into his own hands Saturday, harassing dangerous Missouri quarterback Drew Lock all day. He had two sacks and forced fumbles both times, one that led to a turnover. He was in Lock’s face all game, recording eight QB pressures.
Walker credited his day to a lot of film study and hard work in preparation for the big SEC East showdown.
“I knew going into the game that he always took a 5-step drop and then would come back up in the pocket,” Walker said. “My whole goal was to get my hand on the ball and hopefully the ball would come out. It did, so I was happy about that.”
Walker can see his defense getting better every week. Even if the sacks weren’t there in the first three weeks, the pressure was. Georgia has faced three good quarterbacks in consecutive weeks, and the defensive line’s execution has stepped up each time. The effort against Missouri was their best of the year, by far. There’s more to come, too. Feel the heat.
“I don’t feel like we were holding out,” Walker said. “The teams we’ve been playing in the beginning of the year were getting the ball out very quick. We felt like (Lock) didn’t get it out as quick, though he did a few times as well. We just executed better.”
Walker has waited his turn to be that pass-rush specialist who also gets to be an every-down player. It has taken time, but he’s impressing now. He’s controlling the edge well in the running game and making life miserable for quarterbacks. Look for even more pressure this Saturday against Tennessee’s sub-par offensive line.
“I think D’Andre has grown into this role,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Monday. “I thought he had his best game of the four he’s played last week. I would have expected nothing less, because he’s a leader on our team. He’s a very motivated kid. He plays so hard. It’s important to him. … Overall he had a very productive game, mainly because of how hard he plays.
“He still has room for improvement. He’ll be the first to tell you he had some missed assignments in the game, that he didn’t do what he was supposed to do, he didn’t play with discipline. … But he’s a tough, good football player that probably a lot of people overlooked throughout his career because he’s behind other guys. But he had a good game the other day, certainly appreciate the production he had in the game because he’s hard to block.”