November 17, 2012

Defense steps up again

For the first half, Georgia's worse nightmare seemed to be coming true as Georgia Southern's triple-option offense was doing just what the Bulldogs had feared - chewing up chunks of Sanford Stadium turf.

In fact, the Eagles were driving for a potential go-ahead score until a chop block penalty - the only one of game - negated a first down by GSU, forcing the Eagles to eventually reach for a 39-yard field goal.

The kick failed and the fifth-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) raced down the field to extend their lead to 17-7.

Georgia Southern would get no closer as the Bulldog offense outscored the Eagles 28-7 in the second half to cruise to victory.

"It's when you want to call it," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said of the penalty. "They called it right there, but if you watch tape - it's such a gray area and a fine line -with the officials because the human eye, just on angles and things like that, it's tough. It's a matter of when you choose to call it sometimes relative to how it's going. I think the officials are in a tough spot but they did a good job in the game with it."

Linebacker Alec Ogletree said the Bulldogs' job became much easier after getting a handle on the proper angles to start taking, enabling the defense to start choking off the option pitch.

"It was just taking better angles and just playing what the coaches called," said Ogletree, who led the Bulldogs with 12 tackles. "We had a few calls where we didn't do what was asked and it hurt us for a few plays, but when we finally did the right thing we were basically able to stone them."

Georgia Southern's only second-half possession of note came when the game was out of reach, when the Eagles drove 81 yards before scoring on a 23-yard run by quarterback Jerick McKinnon.

Otherwise, the Eagles amassed just 72 yards the entire second half.

"I thought our guys played well. I think we held them under their average and in the second half really controlled the game," Grantham said. "We got some three-and-outs, some stops, and really, they got some meaningless yards in the second half when the game was in hand. "

Nose John Jenkins, however, was just glad to get the game over after dealing with cut blocks virtually the entire contest.

"I'm just glad I came out alive," Jenkins said.

Ogletree felt the same way.

"With the whole cutting thing, I really don't think anybody on defense likes that too much," Ogletree said. "It's hard to defend, but we've been practicing all week on it and it paid off for us today."

The Bulldog junior hopes it will help pay off with another win when Georgia entertains Georgia Tech at noon Saturday on ESPN.

"I think that will help out a lot. Georgia Tech runs a similar type of offense, so this will help us a lot," Ogletree said. "Hopefully, we won't have to go full pads every day next week like we just did this past one."

Head coach Mark Richt hopes so as well.

"I'm not sure that everyone is looking forward to doing it again, but you've got to go hook it up in practice again and we'll do our best," Richt said. "But Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech don't quite run it the same. It's not like it's a carbon copy by any stretch of the imagination. They do some different things. There are some similarities, blocks on the perimeter that are tough to learn to deal with so hopefully we learned some lessons there."

Grantham too, has his fingers crossed.

"We got past these guys this week so there will be some carry-over," Grantham said. "Georgia Tech is a little bit different with some of the plays they run, but the concepts are the same so I think that part will help us a little bit."