Despite having seen the opposing offense score touchdowns on the opening possession in four straight games, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said there was no doubt what was in head coach Mark Richt's mind what he wanted to do after winning the opening coin toss.
He wanted the defense on the field.
"That showed what kind of confidence he has in us and that meant a lot," Dobbs said. "We wanted it, too. We wanted to show that we could stop them."
That's just what happened.
After allowing a first down, the Bulldog defense forced back-to-back plays that resulted in negative yards before Tennessee punted the ball away.
Five plays later, quarterback Aaron Murray scooted 35 yards down the right sideline for the Bulldogs' first score in their 41-14 win.
"The defense really set the tone for us this afternoon," Murray said. "After they made that first stop, I think everyone sort of relaxed and we were on our way. It gave us a huge boost."
Dobbs said it was all a matter of pride.
Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham seemed to take offense when asked if the opening possession issues were "bugging him" to any great extent.
Maybe not, but Dobbs said he and the rest of the defense were getting sick and tired of the situation.
"I think we just took it upon ourselves. I think he (Grantham) might have mentioned it a time or two, but we as players we're the ones who had to pick it up and get off the field, not let them score the first series," Dobbs said. "We know we can't be playing from behind each game. We just wanted to give our offense a chance, let the other team have to play from behind for a change."
Grantham liked what he saw.
The Bulldogs held the Volunteers to just nine yards net rushing and forced three turnovers, including an interception by Bacarri Rambo off a tipped pass by Vance Cuff.
Georgia also recorded four sacks, including a pair by outside linebacker Justin Houston.
"I thought the guys played relentless, they played hard and they played the way we need them to play. That's how we expect them to play and I think that's the way they want to play," Grantham said. "They stuck to the Game Plan were able to minimize the run game and physically get after them."
Like Dobbs, Grantham was happy to see his defense take the field for the game's first series of plays.
"To me that's the way you should play because percentage-wise you've got a chance to back them up and hopefully inside the 20 to make them go 80 yards," Grantham said. "If you really look, even in those earlier games we had people in third and long but let them off the hook. I like playing defense first. It allows you to go out and play, it allows you to play relentless and it allows you to get good field position for your offense so I thought it was a positive."
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