November 25, 2009

Bulldog defenders wary of cut blocks

For defensive linemen like Georgia's Kade Weston, having to defend against blocking schemes like the ones employed by Georgia Tech can be a nightmare.

In the triple option, one of the basic ideas for any offensive lineman is simply to take out the defender's legs - or cut block - taking him to the ground to provide the lane for the back to run through.

When you're a defensive tackle like Weston, trained at an early age to attack the ball carrier, this can be a difficult way to play.

"It is real frustrating because as a d-lineman, you're taught that you can't play on the ground," Weston said. "But the way their offense runs it's real frustrating because you find yourself on the ground all the time."

Getting his players to keep that from happening is the task facing defensive line coach Rodney Garner as the Bulldogs (6-5) continue their preparation for the 7th-ranked Yellow Jackets Saturday night (8:12 p.m., ABC) in Atlanta.

Although easier said than done, Garner said there are steps that can be taken to give his players a fighting change.

"You've got to be disciplined, you've got to use your hands and keep your feet back," Garner said. "If you get cut, you get off the ground; get your butt up and go make a play on the ball."

But that can be a frustrating thing to deal with.

That's a lesson Weston said he and the rest of the defense learned first-hand during last year's game, won by the Yellow Jackets 45-42.

"You've just got to keep playing and not get frustrated. Cut blocks at times it seems like it is illegal because you're engaging with the center and then the guard comes and cuts you; that's a chop block," he said. "But you can't let it get to you. You've got to take perfect steps. This game is all about fundamentals."

So what is the difference between a cut a block and a chop block, an illegal play that results in a 15-yard penalty?

Actually, Weston said that's actually very simple.

"If you engage a lineman, another lineman can't come in and cut you, because that's a chop block," he said. "But if you're standing there, just one man alone he can come cut you, you just can't be engaged with another guy because that's illegal."

The Yellow Jackets appear to be clicking as well as they possibly can.

Over the last seven games, Georgia Tech has averaged 41.1 points, 343.9 yards rushing and 485.3 yards of total offense.

During that time, running back Jonathan Dwyer[db] has averaged 125.3 yards rushing, while junior quarterback [db]Josh Nesbitt has rushed for 13 touchdowns during that stretch.

"I don't know if anybody has just stoned that thing. LSU might have come the closest to that, but I don't even know if I'd say that was true that entire ballgame," head coach Mark Richt said. "Teams that will grind it out on you and have the long possessions, when you run that offense I would guess they may be No. 1 in the country going for it on fourth down. I don't know if that's true, but I think it's true of that system. I think that when you know you have four downs to get 10 yards it's going to happen more times than not if you just methodically keep grinding away at it. When you do that you get those long, time-consuming drives and you usually end up with points on the back end of it."

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