ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart says there’s plenty to like about the Bulldogs’ defense, but more importantly, plenty left to work on.
Specifically, closing out teams in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to be able to stomp on people’s throats when you get them down,” Smart said at his Monday press conference.
Georgia hasn’t trailed in a game since a 20-17 double overtime loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12, but the past two games the defense has faded.
Auburn gained 158 yards and scored two touchdowns on the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, rallying from 21-0 down to make it 21-14.
Texas A&M gained 127 yards in the fourth quarter last Saturday, cutting the UGA lead to 19-13.
“I thought we got tired at the end of the game, and we’re going to have to overcome that,” Smart said, “because two weeks in a row now, we’ve kind of lost some momentum late, and struggled for a couple drives.”
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) close the regular season at Georgia Tech (3-8) at noon next Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
The Georgia defense ranks first in the SEC and is ranked nationally in: scoring defense (2nd nationally), rushing defense (2nd nationally), red zone defense (4th nationally) and total defense (5th nationally).
The offense hasn’t been piling up the numbers, but it also hasn’t been turning the football over.
Good thing, because as Smart points out, the defense isn’t producing the number of turnovers it needs to.
The Bulldogs rank 12th in the SEC and 103rd in the nation with just 6 interceptions, and they’re 8th in the SEC and 72nd in the nation with 6 fumble recoveries.
“Turnovers, we’ve got to force turnovers,” Smart said.
“We’ve got to be better in the red area. We’ve slipped in the red area the last couple of weeks. We don’t sustain at the end of games.”
But early on, Georgia’s defense is a stone wall.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the SEC not to allow any opening drive scores, and they lead the nation with just one rushing touchdown allowed.
“The great thing about this defense is they take criticism well, they handle criticism well,” Smart said. “They realize we want to be the best. To be the best means you never arrive.
“So you have to keep driving to get better and they’ve really accepted that.”
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