September 20, 2013

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Ok, guilty as charged - I'm looking ahead to next week's game against LSU.

Shoot me, bury me neck deep in a bed of fire ants, pour turpentine over my head. It's just hard to get fired up about Saturday's game against North Texas.

But I'm trying.

I'm really … trying.

While the thought of watching another potential whitewashing of an overmatched opponent isn't exactly a thrilling thought, there are some areas of Saturday's game (12:21, SEC-TV) we'll all likely be focused on before moving ahead to next week when the Bulldogs welcome Zach Mettenberger and LSU to Sanford Stadium.

Let's examine a few, shall we?

Offensively, there's not a lot that needs fixing there.

Todd Gurley is looking more and more like a serious Heisman Trophy candidate, while Aaron Murray is doing just what we expected Aaron Murray to do as a fifth-year senior.

No worries about the receiving corps, despite the loss of Malcolm Mitchell, but week-to-week consistency by the offensive line is something position coach Will Friend no doubt would like to see.

Speaking of Friend, he pulled a Stacy Searels when he kept his offensive linemen away from the media this week, something that seemed a bit odd considering the group was coming off a fairly impressive outing against South Carolina.

But back to my original thought - regarding why we need to pay close attention to what happens in Saturday afternoon's game.

As you probably guessed by now, I'm talking about the defense.

Much has been made about the secondary, and yes, it will be nice to see youngsters like Tray Matthews and Brendan Langley fix some of their early issues. But for me, there's one thing I want to see - some tackling.

We can sit here and argue scheme, coaching, whatever. But based on what I've noticed in Georgia's first two games, is if the Bulldogs can just tackle the man with football, many of the problems fans see with the current state of the defense will mysteriously go away.

No, that won't cure all defensive ills, but hey, it would be a good start.

For the record, I do think the defense will better as the season moves along.

Will it become the type of unit you can depend on to shut opponents down week in and week out? Probably not, but if it can eliminate the issues with alignment, take better angles and start playing better fundamentally, you'll see the improvement I'm expecting.

It's not just Georgia having issues with defense.

Look around the conference.

Even mighty Alabama showed some vulnerability last week in its game against Texas A&M.

Ditto for the Aggies, who might as well tried to swat gnats in a hurricane.

Unless programs improve, there appears to be a shortage of defense as a whole in the SEC this fall and certainly no dominant defensive team.

If there was, I didn't notice any last weekend.

Will we see any from the Bulldogs against North Texas?

After a week off to rest and regroup, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is expecting his players take a step in their progression, although don't be surprised if the Mean Green manages some decent yardage and puts some points on the board.

North Texas is not a bad little offensive team.

That isn't meant to offer the Bulldogs a built-in excuse. What coaches need to see - is a team that flies to the football, makes the routine tackle and doesn't miss assignments or do silly things that get good teams beat.

Even against a team like North Texas, that's something worth watching.

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