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Friday, October 3, 2008

Where's the Pressure?

Jeremy Lomax and Mark Richt both discussed the lack of pressure Thursday, and their diagnosis of the problems against Alabama were both somewhat interesting.

Lomax said the biggest problem for the pass rush is that they had a lot of difficulty reading whether a play would be a run or a pass -- they'd think pass, rush hard, then realize it was a run and have trouble getting off their block. They'd think run, it would be a pass, and John Parker Wilson was able to get off a quick pass on a three-step drop (which I think Lomax likes slightly less than a root canal).

Richt pretty much said the same thing. His first point was that the offense never put Alabama in a position where they had to play catch up, and the defense failed to put the Tide in enough third-and-longs to where they had to run higher-risk plays.

"They ran zone, zone, zone, they faked the zone, hitch, hitch, curl into the flat they didn't have to do anything special," Richt said. "It's hard to put pressure on that when it looks so much like the run. Unless we get on offense get enough going where them out of their comfort zone on their offensive side of the ball, it's hard to make them take a chance."

Of course, Richt also said after the game, he though Wilson had all day to throw the ball, so this analysis may either be a result of more careful film study or perhaps he just doesn't want to throw his pass rush under the bus any more than they already are.

His second explanation, however, I thought was even more interesting. Basically, Richt said, it came down to luck. (Or, one could argue, bad play calling or bad play recognition.)

"People want you to blitz and sometimes you're blitzing and playing three behind it," Richt said. "Sometimes you press, sometimes you're playing two deep behind it. But you've got to mix it up, and some of our better pressures have three deep behind it. A couple times they caught it just right, had a little hitch out there, one-two-three boom. It didn't matter if you brought seven the ball's out. The first half, they hit just about everything. The second half, it wasn't the same way. I watched it really closely. I think we played better in the second half, no doubt, but I think some of our calls just timed better with what they were doing in the second half. It seemed like everything we called in the first half got collected because they were in a good play. They just happened to be in the right call. Sometimes in the second half, they were in the wrong call and we were in the right call, and it made all the difference."

I'm not sure whether this adds fuel to the fire for those of you who blame Willie Martinez for much of the Bulldogs' problems or if it exonerates him. I guess it depends on your interpretation of the comments.

From a pass rush standpoint, however, it's sort of a good news-bad news argument. The bad news is that the Dawgs have been underprepared. The good news is, that's far more fixable than being underskilled.

"You've just got to do more film study," Lomax said. "That's what it's going to take. Get in the film room, watch more film, and I feel like us as a whole have been slacking at that. We need to be able to read stances more and know whether it s run or pass."

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