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Georgia Football

UGA Football's Suffocation Stretch | How UGA Physically Overwhelms Foes

November 14, 2023
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ATHENS - UGA Football’s top-ten primetime matchup with the Ole Miss Rebels looked to be a shootout as both teams moved up and down the field with ease in the first quarter.

Yet, suddenly the Rebels, like many before it, realized they were no longer in a shootout but were being shot upon.

As easy as Ole Miss’ offense moved down the field on two of its first three drives, the Dawgs’ offense scored with even greater ease on its first four possessions. Besides the obvious storyline of Georgia’s offense amassing over 600 yards and scoring fifty-two points, the defense again had a ferocious stretch, termed here the “suffocation stretch” where an offense that once seemed good or maybe even elite, is physically overwhelmed and flummoxed.



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After Ole Miss tied the game at fourteen in the first minute of the second quarter, the Rebels’ offensive juggernaut lead by an excellent offensive-minded head coach, had five drives that combined to net sixteen yards (excluding the seven second drive before halftime). The Dawgs’ offense scored thirty-one unanswered points, while its defense was busy choking out the Rebels. A 14-14 score and seeming “shootout” became 45-14, one minute into the fourth quarter.
We have seen the Dawgs’ defense in these suffocation stretches before – when elite athletes (with help from the best defensive coaching minds in the country) seem to crack the opposing offensive’s code. Then, without hesitation and with bad intentions, Georgia’s defensive players swarm to the ball. Every play seems to conclude with three to five red helmets attacking the ball; offensive possessions and momentum are crushed, as are the hopes and dreams of another opponent turned victim.

Georgia’s defenses during its championship runs have surrendered some early points, especially to good offenses and offensive minds who can “script” a drive or two. However, after quick defensive adjustments or just fixing missed assignments and/or run fits, we see the suffocation stretch. Just a few weeks ago, we saw it against Florida. The Gators had a sixty-six-yard opening touchdown drive and then came the suffocation stretch. Over the next five possessions combined, Florida netted just one yard. The “stretch” did not end there. After that initial drive, Florida’s next seven possessions combined to net only fifty-five yards. By then, Georgia was winning 29-7; a lead that would grow to 36-7 by the end of the third quarter.

 



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In Knoxville in 2021 the Dawg’s suffocation stretch was similarly paired with an offensive barrage of unanswered points. Tennessee had a beautiful opening drive touchdown and was leading Georgia 10-7 in the first quarter. Then came the Georgia defense suffocation stretch, during which its offense scored thirty-four unanswered points. When this occurs, games are effectively over, and Georgia builds roster depth by playing its future stars in the fourth quarter.

During the 2020 season, Georgia lost in the regular season to an eventual national champion Alabama team that had an electric offense filled with future first-round skill position talent. Overlooked by many in what became a lopsided loss, was (perhaps relatively speaking) a suffocation stretch that no other defense was able to inflict upon that Alabama team. Georgia’s defense forced three punts in a row over a six-drive first half period, that also included an interception and a Bama field goal. Of course, the difference was that the 2020 UGA offense was unable to play “complimentary” football and sustain enough drives to beat the Crimson Tide. Eventually, even an excellent defense will get worn out if on the field too much, as was the case for Georgia’s that day in Tuscaloosa.

Today’s version of the Bulldogs not only can play complimentary football but also has an elite offense. When Ole Miss scored fourteen early points, the Dawgs quickly matched that with twenty-eight. There was zero panic, as this Georgia team can win a shootout. Nevertheless, with the Dawgs’ defense executing its suffocation stretches, a game may initially look like a shootout, but before long opponents are just retreating and taking fire.



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