Georgia Bulldogs Focus Primarily on 'Getting Better' Against North Texas Mean Green
By: Melanie Watson
ATHENS, Georgia - The No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs look to have a good defensive showing in Saturday’s game against the unranked North Texas Mean Green after a bye week where they focused primarily on fundamentals.
Georgia’s defense will face North Texas senior quarterback Derek Thompson who had 72 rushing yards in last week’s win against Ball State. It should be noted that 26 of those yards came from a touchdown run and that the North Texas offense led by Thompson has averaged 465 yards per game this season. Thompson is more of a pocket passer but still poses as an overall threat to any defense. Regardless of Thompson’s impressive resume at North Texas, Georgia’s inside linebacker implied that the game plan for the defense is relatively the same.
“We’re going to do the same thing we do for each quarterback – try to create more pressure and make them a one-dimensional team,” Amarlo Herrera said.
In comparison to their up-tempo offense, the Bulldog defense has definitely been an area of mild concern thus far. They are currently ranked 13th out of 14 in total defense having allowed 921 yards of offense so far this season. Despite defensive coordinator Todd Grantham having quite the responsibility ahead of him, head coach Mark Richt says there’s no sense of urgency surrounding the team.
“A lot of it is fundamentally doing a better job when we tackle and hustling to the ball better. We’re not in a panic by any means, we’re just focusing on getting better,” Richt said.
Not all of the pressure in this game lies on the defense, however. The North Texas offense is ranked No. 1 in forcing turnovers and they’ve been great at limiting their opponents during the second half. Georgia’s offense must concentrate on holding onto the ball against a defense that has already forced nine fumbles.
“I’ll say this about their defense – they force more turnovers than anybody in America. They’re great tacklers and they fly to the ball. I think the ball gets knocked out a bunch because they’re always pursuing,” Richt added.
Recent statistics for both teams indicate that the second half of this Saturday’s game may be low in scoring. In their win against South Carolina, the Georgia defense gave up 24 points in the first two quarters but only allowed six points after halftime while also forcing a fumble. North Texas has yet to allow an opponent to score a touchdown after halftime.
“Their defense is simple but they’re really good at what they do so we just have to be focused on the fundamentals and how we execute and we’ll be alright,” said wide receiver Michael Bennett.
Everyone suiting up for Georgia seems to be on the same page in terms of focusing on the basics. It will be interesting to see if the momentum from their big conference win against South Carolina will carry over two weeks later.