Camp Opens With Big D Questions

Let’s call it the Johnny Football factor, what happened to our vaunted defense last year. They couldn’t handle their own hype. They couldn’t handle the heat of success. Coming off a difficult transition year and a switch to the 3-4, Grantham put it all together and UGA finished the year ranked number five in total defense nationally in 2011. A fete they did not come close to repeating last season.

With everybody back and the NFL riches still a full year away, the defensive stars were out. Out and about in the best party school Classic City night and down in sunny Florida smoking dope and drinking to excess and getting arrested, suspended, playing below an acceptable level of focus. We had no cohesion. We were regularly misaligned. We point blank were not very physical and had to rely on the magic tricks of a few defensive stalwarts to only lose twice.

Georgia finished twelfth of fourteen SEC teams in rushing defense last year, and yet was remarkably still the second best football team in the country. That’s unusual as run defense is usually a very key stat.

I sat through an SEC title tilt replay yesterday. GEORGIA-BAMA was an instant classic voted the top game of 2012 on the new ESPNU series #CFBTOP25 – the Top 25 Games of 2012. You know what, we had that game in the bag. Sure, the exciting and basically befuddling ending overshadowed the facts: Georgia had the lead most of the game. Georgia was the more complete football team. It was 0-0 forever. Then Georgia was 7-0. Then Georgia was up 14-10 for a long stretch. Then Georgia went way up 21-10. And what happened? Unable to pass protect, Bama took it to the ground and pounded us. Playing basically the whole game with no subs, our NFL defense submitted and gave away the football game. They were tired and totally gave it away. Murray had the moxie to make it razor close, but it shouldn’t have come to that.

GEORGIA had the most NFL studs but was the least deep I remember us on defense in the Richt era. Richt says this year’s D units have little talent differential between first and second teams. You can read that two ways: 1. we have quality depth again; or, 2. we are in big trouble this football season.

This year, we return the best offense in school history. I hope they can handle the success way better than last year’s defense did. Because we have big questions unresolved on defense.