ATHENS — The pads are going on again during this bye week at Georgia, Coach Kirby Smart nowhere near content with his program’s progress through four games.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs are 4-0 with what appears to be a relatively tame October schedule ahead.
Georgia’s next game is at Tennessee on Oct. 5, followed by home games against South Carolina (Oct. 12) and Kentucky (Oct. 19) before another bye week (Oct. 26).
Smart, however, recognizes there is little margin for error when you’re aiming for a national championship season.
And if it his players didn’t know it before, they certainly learned Saturday night when Notre Dame took obviously exception to being a two-touchdown underdog and payed Georgia down to the wire.
The inspired Irish did Smart and his team a favor, exposing issues the team now recognizes it needs more work on after a 23-17 win.
One area of continued focus on defense is the Bulldogs’ “Havoc Rate,” which has been a focus dating back to spring drills.
The Havoc Rate — which represents such disruptive plays as tackles-for-loss (and sacks), interceptions, pass break-ups and forced fumbles — has been on par with the overall goals.
But Smart, he of the “Do More” motto, is looking for ways to increase it even more.
“Our havoc rate is right on the line of where we need to be,” Smart said following practice on Tuesday. “We’ve been really close. One game, we’re one or two under, another game we’re one or two over.
“We’re trying to find more ways and we spent the last two days looking at the teams who are elite, what are they doing?”
Smart and Georgia might want to print out T-Shirts for fans at Sanford Stadium that say “We create havoc.” Notre Dame had six motion penalties (TFL?) and burned three timeouts because of the incredible crowd noise from the record-crowd of 93,246 last Saturday.
Officially the Bulldogs had 12 “Havoc” plays out of the 61 plays Notre Dame ran for a 19.6-percent Havoc Rate.
If you were to add in the Georgia fans’ impact, the Havoc Rate would go to 30 percent — a significant home field advantage.
The goal, Smart said last spring, is a 20-percent Havoc Rate.
Georgia senior safety J.R. Reed, who accounted for four Havoc plays with three pass break-ups and an interception, said the Havoc Rate cannot come at the expense of run defense.
The Bulldogs were solid there, too, against the Irish. Notre Dame managed just 46 yards rushing on 14 attempts (3.3 yards per carry).
Georgia ranks fifth in the nation and tops in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing an average of 57 yards per game on the ground.
Here’s a look at the Bulldogs’ havoc rate, and rush defense, in the first four games this season:
|Score||Havoc Rate||Rush yards allowed|
|Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6||9.6||116|
|Georgia 63, Murray St. 17||23.3||23|
|Georgia 55, Arkansas St. 0||23.5||43|
Notre Dame 17