For a defense that gave up 454 total yards, Georgia’s showed great improvement during Saturday’s 41-30 win over South Carolina.
(AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto)
Georgia defenders tackle South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) during the first half the NCAA college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto)
The Bulldogs’ defense allowed 226 rushing yards and 228 passing yards in the win, but leading sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins to say there’s still work to be done.
“We could have held them to lower,” Jenkins said. “I still think we could have played better as a whole unit.”
That includes Georgia’s run defense. Between South Carolina’s Connor Shaw and Mike Davis, the defense allowed 224 rushing yards. Jenkins says some extra explosiveness should eliminate that.
“I feel like we played against the run a little bit better,” Jenkins said. “We didn’t do our jobs rushing that well and that’s something we’ll all work on this week.”
Another area of great emphasis following the Clemson loss was Georgia’s lack of experience on its defense. This week’s win hushed some of those criticisms.
“They got harder and didn’t let any of the adversity get to them this week,” Jenkins said.
Senior Garrison Smith never doubted the young guys, and said this team responded to adversity exactly how he expected it to.
“We just hunkered down and everybody stepped up,” Smith said. “They saw the mistakes we made last week and everybody flew to the ball. That’s how we stopped them [South Carolina].”
While Smith said there were still some areas where Georgia fell short, he will try to enjoy the win for as long as possible.
“There’s still room for improvement, but I’m glad we got that W,” Smith said.
Smith has never been on a Georgia team that’s beaten South Carolina. He talked earlier in the week about how he has made no good memories in the Bulldogs’ series with the Gamecocks. That all changed tonight.
“We played hard and this was a dogfight,” Smith said. “This wasn’t an easy victory and I’m just proud of my guys. I’m going to always remember this game. I’m just excited I was actually somebody that helped get this win.”
Georgia’s defense made a crucial goal-line stand on a South Carolina fourth down late in the final minutes. However, the Bulldogs were spotted on the 1-yard line after an unnecessary roughness penalty committed by Smith. He didn’t think he got too rough, but did admit to getting a little excited on the play.
“That’s what it takes on the goal line,” Smith said. “It takes one person to get an arm and the next guy gets a leg. That’s why I dove on the top. I was trying to do WWE and stop them, too. They called it a late hit, but I was just trying to gang tackle and help my defense.”
The excitement didn’t hurt some of the young guys the way it may have during the Clemson game. Todd Grantham said the freshmen stayed focused, and if they do that they will continue to improve on a weekly basis.
“These guys keep playing, and if they continue to improve we’ll eliminate some of the errors that gave up explosive plays,” Grantham said.
Georgia is approaching its first of two bye weeks this season. According to Grantham, it’ll be a little easier to approach the bye week coming off a victory, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done.
“They’ll enjoy it today, but come Monday we’re working and getting better because we’ve got things to improve upon,” Grantham said. “Anytime you win the critique on the players is easy to take, but we’re going to critique them definitely.”
Regardless of statistics, this was a statement win for Georgia’s young and continuously-improving defense.
“We’ve got that heart and tenacity,” Smith said. “We’re not going to give up.”
MORE COVERAGE OF GEORGIA’S WIN OVER SOUTH CAROLINA