September 14, 2011

Where's the pressure?

Two games with one sack.

That's one number which is almost impossible to ignore when perusing Georgia's defensive statistics heading into Saturday's game against Coastal Carolina (1 p.m.).

So what's wrong?

"I think as far as the defensive line goes, we've got to take advantage of the one-on-one blocks when we get them, focus on our pass rush and get back there with more enthusiasm," defensive end Abry Jones said.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones was even more emphatic.

"We need to push the pocket more to get to the ball, it's that simple," he said.

But is it really that simple, and do coaches really think it's that big of an issue?

Georgia's only sack came in last week's contest against South Carolina when cornerback Sanders Commings brought down Gamecock quarterback Stephen Garcia on a blitz, but otherwise the senior was able to skirt whatever pressure the Bulldogs attempted to bring.

"We're getting some pressure, and there's a difference between pressure and sacks. We got him (Garcia) running around a bit, but he ran around and threw a touchdown pass, ran around and threw a long gain in the fourth quarter," head coach Mark Richt said. "Part of the issue is that a couple of times we lost contain, and you can't have that. We also had some times when we knocked both quarterbacks (Garcia and Boise State's Kellen Moore) down as they were throwing the football and forced some throws a little bit sooner than they wanted to."

Jones agreed that the type of quarterbacks Georgia played in the quick-trigger Moore and the elusive Garcia played somewhat of a role in why sacks have been hard to come by.

"We played some pretty good quarterbacks, and South Carolina didn't throw the ball much," Jones said. "It's just to the point that we've played two quarterbacks, one that got the ball out real quick and one who didn't throw it that much, but we've still got a lot to improve on."

Richt won't argue with that, adding he and the Bulldogs' defensive coaches have challenged their players to get the job done.

"The one interception that we did get (against South Carolina) wasn't attributed to much pressure. It was sprint out and the ball was just thrown in there, where the guy made a pretty good play," Richt said. "So we're getting pressure but we're definitely not getting the sacks, and right now, we are challenging our guys to be able to rush the passer without having to bring different types of pressures to get the rush, to get the sacks. We just have not had anybody step up and do that on a consistent basis anyway."

Finding a replacement for Justin Houston obviously hasn't been easy.

Last season, the current rookie for the Kansas City Chiefs ranked among the leaders in the SEC with 10 sacks from his Will linebacker position.

Jones hopes he and fellow outside linebacker Cornelius Washington will eventually be able to fill the void.

"I hope everybody on our defense can contribute," Jones said. "Justin was a great player. He was a standout player here. He stood out, he went and got it, but I think everyone on the front seven will just continue to work, hopefully we can start getting to the quarterback."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]