So far this season the Bulldogs’ defense has been able to do just about everything you could want a defense to do, except one thing.
Georgia’s defense had not been able to check the box marked ‘interception’.
Well, that was before the third quarter of Georgia’s 31-3 win over Mississippi State. The Georgia defense went from having no interceptions in the first three games of the season to recording two in the third quarter alone in Saturday’s game.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s pass was intercepted by Georgia’s Deandre Baker to give Georgia its first of the year, and third of Baker’s career.
While recalling his read on the interception, Baker was quick to pass along the credit to others on the Georgia defense.
“It came from a good rush on the d-line and the linebackers dropping into zone,” Baker said. “[Fitzgerald] had to put a little bit of air on it so I thank those guys [up front].”
But Baker wasn’t alone in the interception category on Saturday night. In Mississippi State’s next drive, it was Georgia’s Dominick Sanders who recorded the second interception of the night, and the year, for Georgia.
That was Sanders’ 13th career interception, which ties him with none other than head coach Kirby Smart, and three other former Georgia players, for the fifth most career interceptions in Georgia history.
According to Smart, Sanders thrives on interceptions, but when asked about his thoughts on Sanders passing his career record for interceptions he was quick to give him a knock.
“I’m proud of Dominick, it took him a long time,” Smart said with a smile.
But more than just a number on a stat line, the two interceptions tonight were something that the defense felt were necessary.
“We needed those,” J.R. Reed said. “We’ve been talking about it all year how we needed interceptions, we have to get those interceptions. We focused on playing to the ball this week.”
And while it may have been something that the defense worked on, according to Smart, the opportunities for interceptions were there throughout the first three games, the only difference with Saturday night was that they were actually caught by the Georgia defense. Smart also emphasized the importance of having a lead to cushion aggressive plays that led to the interceptions.
“They come in bunches,” Smart said. “I think when you get people behind the sticks and behind in the game it’s a lot easier to play aggressive. The teams that I have had that have had the most interceptions are the ones that had a lead.”
And now that Georgia can finally add two interceptions to the growing list of defensive accomplishments, its something that the offense is ready to start expecting from their defense.
“[The interceptions] mean a lot because we know that our defense is going to stop them, but tonight they showed that they are going to get us the ball back with great field position,” Terry Godwin said. “We know that every time that ball is up in the air there is always a possibility that one of our [defensive backs] is going to come down with it.”