September 11, 2010

Tackling issues haunt Dawgs

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Throughout an interview session with running back Marcus Lattimore, quarterback Stephen Garcia kept chiming in.

His words will haunt Georgia's defensive players the rest of next week.

"You can't arm tackle Marcus Lattimore," Garcia said. "You can't arm tackle Marcus Lattimore."

No doubt when the Bulldog defenders sit down Sunday to view the tape of Saturday's 17-6 loss, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be echoing those same sentiments.

Take nothing away from Lattimore.

The former five-star runner bulled his way to 182 yards on 37 carries and scored both of the Gamecocks' touchdowns.

But it was those yards-after-contact that bugged the Bulldogs the most, notably outside linebacker Justin Houston who said he and his teammates reverted back to some of their same tackling issues from a season ago.

"Next week I know for a fact our main focus will be wrapping up," a visually agitated Houston said. "We did a very poor job of tackling."

Grantham wasn't going to argue, adding when the Bulldogs return to practice Monday, his players had best be ready to get to work.

"We're going to tackle (in practice). We're going to thud guys up. We did it in training camp and we did it in preseason," Grantham said. "We're going to continue to do it, but obviously we're going to have an emphasis on it because you cannot let a guy run like that and be good on defense."

Linebacker Christian Robinson said he was surprised that he and his defensive mates struggled in that aspect of their game.

"I really didn't think it would happen. I mean, Coach Grantham, Coach (Warren) Belin and Coach (Scott) Lakatos preach proper tackling every day. It's something we work on every day, thought I'm sure it will be a big focus this week," Robinson said. "We have drills we do every week and we already practice at a high tempo, but there's no doubt it's about to get even moreso."

Two other stats raised Grantham's hire.

Besides the fact South Carolina was able to control the clock for 35:15 compared to 24:45 for Georgia, the Gamecocks also converted 9-of-14 first downs.

Georgia did hold South Carolina to 126 yards in the first half. But Grantham wasn't about to claim any moral victories.

"We didn't win the game, that's the bottom line. Basically, I don't think we did a good enough job of tackling, we didn't do a stopping the run and when we did get them in third down we let them convert," Grantham said." Anytime you let a team continue drives fatigue will start to set in and from that standpoint we've got to improve upon that."

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