ATHENS, Ga.—Looking back on the Bulldogs’ defensive performance Saturday against Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), quite an oddity transpired during the 51-14 victory—the likes of which Georgia defenders would like to eliminate in the future.
While averaging less than three yards per play, the Warhawks’ first seven offensive possessions resulted in no points. Such was the case (no points, less than three yards per play) for their final three possessions of the game, which promptly followed the first lightning delay. However, sandwiched between those two stretches, ULM exhibited a potent offensive attack, throwing the Bulldogs back on their heels.
“Those two minutes, when they drove down and scored,” said sophomore Aaron Davis, referring to the Warhawks’ 8-play (seven passes, once sacked), 75-yard touchdown drive just before halftime when trailing 35-0, “that’s something we definitely have to tighten up in practice.” Starting at one of the cornerback positions, Davis totaled three tackles in the game, while intercepting a first-quarter pass—the only turnover forced the entire contest.
Down 35-7, ULM opened the second half very similarly to how it closed the first, driving 74 yards in seven plays—all passes—to a touchdown.
“I think overall we did a good job [defensively], but those two drives, there were just little errors [we made]—tiny things that made those drives last, and we wound up giving up touchdowns,” said senior Jake Ganus, who started at Mike linebacker and made three tackles. “We just have to cut those [errors] out, and we’ll be fine.”
Last season, only twice did Georgia’s defense allow an opponent to drive 70-plus yards to a touchdown on consecutive possessions: on the road at Arkansas and Kentucky. Of course, the Razorbacks and Wildcats a year ago possessed rather reputable SEC offenses, and scored three and two, respectively, touchdowns against the Bulldogs beyond the back-to-back scores.
But, last Saturday, and perhaps aided by the 61-minute lightning delay beginning after just 6:25 had elapsed following halftime, the Bulldogs blanked the Warhawks until the second delay ultimately ended the game with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We just knew, as a team, we must improve and go back out there [following the first delay] with the same spark we came out with [at the beginning of the game],” sophomore Malkom Parrish said. Parrish, who started opposite of Davis at cornerback, recorded six tackles, including one for loss. “So, as a team, we felt that way, and we accomplished that.”
Although Georgia’s defense faltered leading into halftime, and immediately afterwards, the question arises if the second break for the Bulldogs—the first weather delay—was beneficial.
“Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt got to make some really good corrections [during the lightning delay], and we got to go over some stuff,” Ganus said of the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. “Of course, it’s good any time you have extra time to prepare.”
Of course, Ganus agreed there may not be another game this season when Georgia’s defense benefits from “extra time.” And, even if so, and no matter how few touchdowns the Bulldogs yield and when exactly during games they are allowed, according to Davis, “we always have things we can work on no matter what…”