If there's one issue Georgia defensive coaches have had little success correcting, it's what to do about opponent's converting all those pesky third downs.
The numbers are downright annoying.
Bulldog opponents are converting 42.2 percent of their third down attempts, a number that ranks dead last in the SEC and something that head coach Mark Richtacknowledged needs to be corrected in time for Saturday's game at Jacksonville against Florida.
"Mostly it's our inability to squeeze the quarterback in the pocket. We've allowed him to get out of the pocket either on QB run situations or scrambling situations to where he might bide a little more time and put more pressure on our coverage," Richt said. "Then our back end, our defensive backs and linebackers - especially in zone coverage - we've not been disciplined enough where that quarterback does buy enough time, we've been too quick to try to go sic him when he hasn't even tried to cross the line of scrimmage. We'll do that or we'll go jump a guy in the flat one yard past the line of scrimmage, maybe seven yards away from the stick and just go aggressively trying to stop the play right there instead of hold off the curls, square-ins and then break off on the ball if the quarterback crosses the line ofscrimmage.
"I think that's been our biggest problem."
Take Saturday's 44-31 win over Kentucky. The Wildcats converted 9-of-15 conversions against the Bulldogs.
Cornerback Sanders Commings admits it's been frustrating.
"For the most part, the thing that hurts us is eye discipline," Commings said. "We'll put our eyes where they're not supposed to be, like we'll put them in the backfield when they're like in play action and the receiver will get open."
Linebacker Akeem Dent says it can become a mental thing, but as he points out, the week before against Vanderbilt the Commodores only converted one of the 11 third downs they attempted.
"The thing you have to do is keep your composure and be able to fight. Just give a little more effort and little more fight you will be able to be successful," Dent said. "You just have to keep focused on your job and stay in position; just try to make a play. It's all about playing assignment football."
Murray said incident still embarrasses Charles
Tight end Orson Charles isn't speaking to the media this week.
Bulldog sports information hasn't said exactly why, but a good guess would be the Tampa native doesn't want to relive the now famous story about how as a recruit he dropped Florida's national championship trophy, smashing it into smithereens.
"I think he was more embarrassed by it than anything," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "I tell him now, if you had went to Florida, it might have been bad. But now that you're going to Georgia, you're worshipped for that here."
Murray, who committed to Georgia in April of 2008 prior to his senior year at Plant, said he and Charles have talked about the incident before.
"Coach (Urban) Meyer told him (during the recruiting process) if you're going to do that, the least you can do is help win another one," Murray smiled. "But no, they were cool about it. They had insurance on it, so they just got another one."
Smith on verge of contact
Richt said that cornerback Branden Smith(concussion) will wait one more day before resuming contact drills, but if all goes well today, the sophomore will be available for Saturday's game.
"Branden right now is in a non-contact situation today, and if everything goes well we hope to progress him to contact tomorrow," Richt said.
When he does, cornerback will remain his primary position.
"He's a corner. He's a corner. When we play him on offense,it's actually very little practice time that he gets. The things that we ask him to do, we feel like we can rep with the team, within a five-minute period and then get him back to defense," Richt said. "We don't think it hurts him in the defensive role. If there is something special, he might could work on it after practice with a teammate if there is something that he needs to perfect that's a little different."
Richt not sure who starts at running back
Richt said he will wait to see before announcing whether Washaun Ealey or Caleb King starts at running back in Saturday's game.
"I don't know. I didn't talk to Coach (Bryan) McClendon or (Mike) Bobo about it, but we'll probably just wait to see how today goes,"Richt said. "Today is going to be a very physical day and a day that guys can impress or maybe disappoint a coach as he is watching him prepare, so that has a lot to do with it too."
The Bulldogs will have King back for the first time in three weeks after the junior completed his two-game suspension for failing to appear for a traffic court hearing in Walton County.
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