October 28, 2009

Martinez not letting speculation bother him

Although the future of Willie Martinez continues to be a hot-button topic for many Georgia football fans, the Bulldog defensive coordinator said the worse thing he can possibly do is start worrying about what's being said in the arena of public opinion.

With defending national Florida on deck Saturday in Jacksonville, he's got more pressing issues on his mind, like trying to find a way to slow down the SEC's top-ranked offensive team.

"It (the talk) doesn't bother me. You focus on what you can control and that's getting your kids prepared," Martinez said. "That's really what we do. I really don't pay attention to a lot of that stuff that goes on; it's not going to really help get your team ready to play."

Nevertheless, it doesn't surprise Martinez that the talk is there. Just don't ask him if he's heard anything specific about what's being said.

"You would stump me with questions about what's being said because I really don't know," he said. "That may come off as somebody who doesn't care, but that's not true. That' just not what's going to help us win games, help us get recruits and that kind of thing so we just try to stay focused, stay positive and do what we can to win the game on Saturday."

With kickoff against the Gators (7-0, 5-0) now less than three days away, there's plenty to occupy Martinez's time.

Florida is the conference's top-ranked team in three very important offensive categories - scoring offense (35.3 points per game), rushing offense (258.3 points per game) and total offense (457 yards per game). Meanwhile, Georgia ranks last in both scoring defense (27.7 points per game) and 10th in total defense (365.6).

The Bulldogs sit a respectable fifth in rushing defense (127.3 yards per game), but have yet to play a single SEC foe currently ranked among the top five rushing teams in the league.

Martinez hopes having an extra week will enable his team to remedy some of those woes.

"You like think that. You can slow things down so it's not something where you're trying to get to Saturday so quickly as opposed to when you're preparing for that opponent," Martinez said. "You get the opportunity to get two extra days and we tried to make the most of it. That includes tackling, it always includes tackling, but it's also positioning, it's secondary-wise, deep balks, ball drills … you're trying to create more disruptions, more turnovers. You can do that, which we need to do a better job of, things we can't do as much during a regular week because you're trying to get the plan ready."

Finding a way limit Tim Tebow's success as a rollout passer would certainly seem to be part of the plan.

The Bulldogs had no success defending the play against Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who picked apart the Bulldogs by simply bootlegging out before dumping the ball to a back or tight end.

Considering that Gator tight end Aaron Hernandez is one of Tebow's two favorite targets along with lanky wideout Riley Cooper, Martinez knows his squad will have to keep their collective eyes open.

"We do that (prepare for the rollout) every week. It didn't just start this week," Martinez said. "You work on the things that hurt you the previous game or throughout the season and build on the things you do very well. That's no different. Prior to the Tennessee game, we did that.

"We just have to play solid defense from the standpoint of lining up, fitting up right, making plays and forcing them into long yardage. That means you have to do a very good job on first and second down and whether or not that's by them running the ball or using play-action. We know that's always been a part of their offense and that's why they are so effective."

Last week, Mississippi State used a Cover-0 to confuse Tebow, who was intercepted twice as Florida's offense struggled for the second week in a row.

Martinez said he watched the Gators' 29-19 victory in Starkville, but not to expect the Bulldogs to simply try and copy what MSU in order to try and keep the Gators grounded.

"I don't want to speak schematically, but people who have had success like when we beat them in 2007, it's really the style that you play, the mentality that you play, the attitude that you bring on every play that's going to be the difference," Martinez said. "You've got to be physical. They are a very talented football team but we try not to make it about them. It's more about us and what we do."

Of course, keeping Tebow from doing his thing would be a good idea.

Not many teams have had success slowing down the quarterback, who needs just one rushing touchdown to break the SEC record of 49 set by Herschel Walker in three years at Georgia.

Still, when asked what the secret is doing containing Tebow when the Gators are in short yardage situations, Martinez said the answer is simple.

"Tackle. We've got to tackle better and execute our defense with whatever we've got called. We know that he's going to get the ball at those times," he said. "Again, you've just got to make plays. That kid's a great player. I'm not telling you anything you don't know. If he wasn't, we wouldn't be talking about him every week or talking about him every time we're playing them. You've got to give him credit. He's very talented, he's very tough, and a great leader but our guys are looking forward to playing him. You've just got to execute, play with an edge and play with the physicality that you need in every game, especially in a game like this."

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