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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting Defensive

38, 49, 38.

It's been more than a century since numbers like those were put up by consecutive Georgia opponents, and don't think the players haven't noticed.

So what are they planning to do about it?

Well, first, they held a players-only meeting Monday in which Corvey Irvin and a few others laid down the law.

"We've all been talking with each other besides the coaches, pretty much by ourselves as a team," linebacker Rennie Curran said. "We're just encouraging each other. We can't let teams run up the score on us. Like Corvey said, something's got to give. We've got to step it up. Our offense won't always be able to bail us out."

Irvin said specific goals have been established, but he's keeping those goals to himself until after this week's game. Having said that, there is one thing he said the defense expects to do: Get back to basics.

"We really weren't having fun out there this weekend," Irvin said. "That's why we're going to set everything else aside all the BCS and all the other stuff we're just going to play football this week. Georgia's main goal is to just get our swagger back and have fun. We've got to punish, man. We've got to punish. That's it."

BCS and other stuff? If you think it's a bit late in the season -- and two losses too far into the schedule -- for Georgia to still have these types of distractions, you're not alone.

"That's been our emphasis just not playing around in practice, not fooling around at all, just guys focusing in every drill, doing everything like we're doing it in the game," Curran said.

That's not all...

"We need to practice everything like it's in the game, really," Curran said. "It's something we've been not doing too well. That game tempo just flowing sometimes during the game, the offense will up their tempo, go to the hurry-up offense, and we won't be ready with that. We'll get caught out of position or not aligned properly."

That seems to be the overwhelming problem according to several members of the defense, and it killed Georgia against Kentucky, which scored five rushing touchdowns in the game.

The phrase of the week, according to Curran, is "assignment football" -- as in, players need to remember their assignments and stick to them. That didn't happen against the Wildcats.

"We just had little mental errors and little mental mistakes out on the field players not really executing exactly what coach had planned for us," safety Reshad Jones said. "A linebacker might go to the pitch player when he was supposed to have been on the quarterback just different little things, mental errors we had out on the field."

So the next obvious question might be, how is it 10 games into the season and these problems are still happening?

"Injuries, lack of leadership, the defense is just not motivated," Irvin said. "But like I said, we'll have a whole different swagger this week."

A lot of people will take those quotes as an indictment of Willie Martinez, which doesn't surprise Curran. But as his head coach did a day earlier, Curran was quick to defend Martinez as well.

"At the end of the day, those people who are talking probably have no idea what goes on on the practice field or in our meetings or anything," Curran said. "It's just from the outside looking in, when you see that many points go up, you know you're going to have no choice but to point fingers at somebody, and usually the first person who gets pointed to is the coach.

"In their minds, he has control over what we do, but really it's just us, us as players. We're the ones that have full control over what happens, and Coach Martinez is not out there on the field. People can say, 'Oh, he needs to blitz more,' and, 'He needs to do this more,' but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what scheme he runs or what call he makes, if we're not executing, it's not going to make much of a difference. He can call the best defense out there, he can change everything around and put us in the best position, but if we're not running to the ball and playing assignment football, it's not going to make any difference."

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