As #18 Auburn prepares for the 126th playing of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against #2 Georgia, we will prepare you, the fan, for the matchup with some detailed analysis of the Tigers’ next opponent. Today, we will look at the Georgia defense.
Georgia’s defense has been historically good this season. Coming into Saturday’s game they have shutout SEC opponents (Vanderbilt and Arkansas) in back-to-back weeks. This season marks the first time Georgia has shutout multiple SEC opponents in the same season since 1980 (which just happens to be the last time the Bulldogs were crowned national champions).
The Bulldogs have only allowed one offensive touchdown all season, which came in the fourth quarter against South Carolina with the Bulldogs up big, while scoring two defensive touchdowns of their own. It is a remarkable feat that their defense has scored more touchdowns than they have allowed.
The Bulldog defense has allowed a miniscule 4.6 points per game which easily leads the nation. If you take out the pick six UAB had earlier this season against Georgia, the defense is only allowing 3.2 points a game. The Bulldogs also lead the nation allowing 3.38 yards per play.
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer commented after playing Georgia that the Dawgs must have “like 100 five-star players on defense.” While Georgia doesn’t quite field 100 five-stars, they do boast six former five-star recruits in the two-deep of the front seven.
The strength of this defense is the aforementioned front seven. Nose tackle Jordan Davis, defensive tackles Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, and linebackers Nakobe Dean, Adam Anderson, Channing Tindall, and Nolan Smith make up the core group in the front seven.
Coming into the season, the secondary was viewed as the weak point of this defense; however, it has been impossible for a quarterback to set in the pocket and attempt to make plays against the Bulldogs’ defense due to their unrelenting pass rush. As a team, the Bulldogs have recorded 18 sacks.
Coupled with their relentless pass rush, the Bulldogs have also proven the preseason concerns about their secondary were unfounded. Pro Football Focus ranks the Georgia defense second in pass rush and first in both tackling and coverage. Safeties Lewis Cine and Chris Smith team up with cornerbacks Ameer Speed, Kelee Ringo, and Derion Kendrick to hold opposing offenses to 110 passing yards per game.
What makes this Georgia defense so dominant? It is a combination of a great assembly of talent along with a mastermind defensive coach in Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs are disciplined on defense and rarely find themselves out of position on a play. Throw in their extreme athleticism and individual talent, and they have become a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Coach Harsin pointed to the Georgia’s physicality in the front seven when previewing the matchup during his Monday press conference and said his players will have to win some one-on-one matchups if the Tigers are to emerge victorious.