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Georgia Football

Dawgs' Defense Builds Pressure on Foes

October 7, 2020
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ATHENS - A year ago, Georgia was one of the top defenses in the country. But the Dawgs had very few sacks to show for it. 

Two games into the 2020 season, Georgia is No. 3 in the SEC with five sacks in two games. The Dawgs probably should have more this season, but Auburn QB Bo Nix is a slippery lad and got away a few times too many for Kirby Smart. 

“I think we had, I don't know, I'd be guessing, four or five missed sacks,” Smart said after the game. “(We) just couldn't get him on the ground. I think that's a credit to his athleticism because we've got some pretty good athletes out there that couldn't get him on the ground.”

It remains to be seen if Georgia will face a QB as slippery as Nix the remainder of the regular season. Nonetheless, the pressure from the Dawgs on Saturday night was clear - Nix was running for his life the entire game. 

It was good enough for the Dawgs to slow Auburn’s attack to only two field goal attempts. Auburn is an offense that is supposed to be known for scoring, but Georgia’s clear pressure was a lot to handle.

“Pressure on the quarterback causes indecision. It causes doubt. It causes confusion. I think it affects every quarterback differently because some do better against pressure - some do worse,” Kirby said this week. 

The question this week is how Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano will deal with what Georgia throws at him. The entire week, Kirby has been campaigning as hard as he can to let it be known that he thinks Tennessee is further along than Auburn at this point in the season. I’m not sure that’s totally correct, but it seems Tennessee has improved over last year. 

Still, like most signal callers, Guarantano struggles when placed in pressure-filled situations. He’s only completing 53% of his balls on third down. The Vols’ offensive line has given up four sacks this season with three of them coming on third down. 

When will Georgia apply pressure? Will it only be on third down? Kirby said the best way to keep quarterbacks on their toes is to not to signal when it is coming. 

“You look at statistics and see how does he do against a three-man rush, a four-man rush, a five-man rush, a six-man rush and you try to evaluate each quarterback on how they respond to pressure.” he said. “If you throw a mean fastball, and it’s 101 mph and that’s all you have - eventually they’ll hit it. So, if you’re pitching, you better have a couple pitches, and the idea behind pressuring versus not pressuring is to be able to pitch.”

There will be a bit of motivation this season against the Vols, too. Kirby is on record saying last year’s game at Tennessee, a 43-14 win where the defense allowed 343 yards. It was the second-most yards Georgia gave up in 2019 (LSU). 

 
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