September 26, 2010

Another slow start for defense

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The sight looked vaguely familiar to Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

There was an opponent, taking just a handful of plays to drive 50-plus yards for an easy score.

Last week it was Arkansas which did the trick, turning a tie game into a 31-24 victory last week at Sanford Stadium with a last-second drive that took only 32 seconds to cover 68 yards.

Saturday night in Starkville, it was Mississippi State which took just four plays on its opening possession to drive 53 yards and score the first touchdown on a 13-yard run by en route to a 24-12 victory over Georgia.

For those keeping score, the touchdown marked the third straight game in which the opponent has scored during its first drive against the Bulldogs.

"I didn't think we played the first drive well, we've got to do a better job of that, obviously, myself included," Grantham sad. "But we were able to make some adjustments after that first drive and really I thought from after that first drive and up until the beginning of the fourth quarter we were pretty much hanging in there playing them and holding them to low numbers."

At least that was something the Bulldog D could hang its collective hat on.

After giving up 53 yards on the opening drive, Georgia limited MSU to just 204 entering the fourth quarter before a pair of late touchdowns helped the Maroon put the game away.

Included in Mississippi State's fourth-quarter surge was a fourth-and-1 conversion at the MSU 39 which Ballard picked up with a 2-yard gain.

Earlier, Georgia's defense found its back against the wall after [db]Bacarri Rambo had a ball bounce off his foot during a punt in the second quarter.

MSU looked to be on the verge of cashing in on the mistake for points until Darryl Gamble intercepted a halfback pass by LaDarius Perkins to stop the drive.

"Defenses are to go out there and stop them; that's our job. Our job is to go out there and stop them and I was proud of the job we did," Grantham said. "I thought they did a good job on the sideline with some adjustments after the first series. I thought we kept playing."

Unfortunately, like the offense, mistakes and penalties would cost the defense as well.

During Mississippi State's first drive of the third quarter, Vance Cuff intercepted the football at the Georgia 43 and returned it 27 yards to the MSU 30.

The Bulldogs had some much-needed momentum. Or at least that's what they thought.

Before the snap, outside linebacker Justin Houston was called for offsides and the play was negated. Mississippi State would eventually punt back the football, but a valuable opportunity was points were wasted.

"Crucial mistakes at crucial times, that's what this game was all about," defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "We had some opportunities to makes some really big plays but because of the mistakes were unable to capitalize on them."

Akeem Dent led the Bulldogs with 10 tackles, but they were unable to put much pressure on MSU quarterback Chris Relf who was not sacked a single time.

In fact, Georgia only had two tackles for losses of negative yards, both courtesy of Houston.

"They capitalized on every mistake we made," said Houston, who added the defense has other issues that need to be corrected.

For example, once again there appeared to be issues of alignment, while Houston suggested some players need to focus on playing hard every play.

Grantham, however, did not go that far, adding he doesn't belief his defense will press forward.

"Our players are going to play. The guys gave effort, and were battling it out to the end and even tried to knock the ball out on the victory play," he said. "We'll continue to work and we'll get better as we move forward. I'm proud of the way the guys competed, but we've still got to get better."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!