Smart says elite defense has room to improve
On paper, what Georgia’s defense has been able to do two games into the season is impressive.
Opponents still have not scored an offensive touchdown against UGA. Opposing offenses are averaging just 2.2 yards per rush and completing just 50 percent of their passes (27 of 54) for 224 yards.
Georgia’s defense collectively has 10 sacks and four interceptions through two games, all statistical facts that head coach Kirby Smart can appreciate.
However, if you know Smart, the word satisfaction is not exactly in his vocabulary. Although Georgia’s defense has been impressive, there’s still room to improve, starting Saturday night against South Carolina (7 p.m., ESPN).
“Improvement-wise, we probably didn’t play as well in the second game as we did in the first,” Smart said after practice Tuesday. “We really did not strike blockers, we played run fits to the standards that we expect, we did get some turnovers which we didn’t get in the first. But the biggest thing was playing our gaps, striking blockers, communicating.”
As a result, Smart said there is no shortage of issues for his team to work out prior to its game against the Gamecocks (2-0).
“We’re doing pretty good, playing good ball, but we always have things we can improve on,” junior defensive end Travon Walker said. “We just need to play to our expectations and keep improving as a defense every week.”
Georgia’s defense, specifically its front seven, certainly has its share of stars.
Nose Jordan Davis is looking like one of the nation’s most dominant his position, as do Walker and Jalen Carter. Linebackers Adam Anderson and Nakobe Dean have two sacks apiece.
However, what’s setting the Bulldogs apart thus far is their depth.
How’s this for an example.
Georgia has 10 sacks thus far. Through two games, that’s third in the SEC behind LSU (12) and Missouri (11).
However, what makes the number for the Bulldogs more impressive is Georgia is getting that production from up and down the defense. Eight different players have sacks for the Bulldogs, compared to seven for Mizzou and LSU.
Digging even deeper, you’ll notice that Carter leads the Bulldogs with quarterback hurries (6), despite the fact he’s looking for his first sack.
“It’s fun playing on a defense where everyone is contributing,” Walker said. “We’ve got a lot of play-makers. You may not see yourself being in competition with someone, but we always play and joke around, saying who is going to do what in each game, who is going to make plays and what-not. That just brings competition within the team, and I think that’s why we’re a good defense.”
However, as Smart is quick to point, complacency will not be tolerated.
“There were still breakdowns against UAB that we had that we’re trying to get right defensively,” Smart said. “We’re fast enough and big enough that we haven’t been exposed on some of those, but we’ve got to do a better job of definitely playing the run."