December 3, 2011

Grantham offers no excuses

ATLANTA -Todd Grantham makes no excuses.

It doesn't matter where his defense takes the field, there are plays to be made and offenses to stop. It matters not what the circumstances are.

That includes defending a short field, something a pair of key third-quarter mistakes by the offense and special teams forced the defense to try and do in Saturday's 42-10 loss to top-ranked LSU.

First, it was a fumble by quarterback Aaron Murray on Georgia's first possession of the third quarter, which cornerback Tyrann Mathieu recovered at the 26-yard line to set up the Tigers' second score, a 15-yard run by Kenny Hilliard to put LSU in front 14-10.

Next, it was a 47-yard punt return by Mathieu who set LSU in prime position at the 17. Four plays later, it was Hilliard again, this time bulling in from 4 yards out to push the lead to 21-10. The rout was on.

"When you get those kinds of turnovers you've got to find ways to get them to kick a field goal and if you do that you're still in the game," Grantham said. "So to me, that was the biggest things - we didn't play well enough situationally."

Grantham couldn't have asked for any more from his offense the first half.

From a statistical standpoint, the Bulldog defense dominated, holding the Tigers to just 12 total yards and zero first downs as Georgia jumped to a surprising 10-7 advantage.

"For 30 minutes you played as good as anybody in the country, for the next 30 minutes we didn't get the job done as a team," Grantham said. "If you correct those things, you'll get a chance to see what you can really do."

Cornerback Brandon Boykin admitted the way the Bulldogs lost was frustrating.

"We turned the ball over and gave up big plays on special teams," Boykin said. "It's hard to win when you do stuff like that, especially in the second half. We've got correct that if we want to get back here again."

Linebacker Jarvis Jones sees no reason why the Bulldogs can't do exactly that, especially with all that should be coming back on the defensive side.

"I know we'll have the No. 1 defense in the nation. We'll be bigger, faster and stronger. You look at our defense now, our defense is really young," said Jones, who against Saturday re-iterated that he'll be back for his junior year. "We've got a lot of young players playing, we've got a lot of young players playing their first year in the system so just think about with another year or two in this system what all we can do."

From a statistical standpoint, Grantham said his defense can still be proud, with the only real disappointment when Alfred Blue broke loose on a 48-yard touchdown run.

"Other than that I think we were on par," said Grantham, whose defense only allowed 237 total yards. "I thought that in that situation we probably took some chances to try and get the ball back. When you do that, you create seams and when you've got good athletes like they do you can give up a long play."

Safety Bacarri Rambo agreed.

"We just didn't finish," he said. "We'll just have to come back next year and hopefully we'll be the ones out there celebrating."

Boykin said the loss shouldn't take away what the team was able to do during the year.

"I don't think so. We won 10 in a row to get here, something nobody thought we could do," Boykin said. "Getting here we were underdogs, but the outcome doesn't really reflect how the game went. But at the same time they won, so in order to get past this we've got to take care of business in the bowl game."