It’s no secret that Georgia’s pass rush lost several pieces from the 2015 season. Through two games, it’s apparent the players on this year’s defense still have work to do to pick up the slack.
Following the win over Nicholls State, the Bulldogs have three sacks, which leaves the team tied for 12th in the SEC. With the likes of Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins now departed, players such as Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter are being called upon to make things happen.
Even though sacks pop off the stat sheet, not having them isn’t problematic.
“Sacks are great and all, but it really comes down to how good the team did,” Carter said. “We're going to play hard and try to get sacks, but we're going to do it within the defense. We're going to get our pressures within the defense.”
Carter wasn’t the only one to denounce the idea of few sacks being a real problem. Junior linebacker Davin Bellamy was third on the team last year with three sacks, trailing only Floyd and Jenkins for the team lead.
Bellamy made it clear that just because the opposing quarterback isn’t taken to the ground on a given play doesn’t mean the mission for the defense wasn’t accomplished.
“We know that this is a defense where everybody has to do their job,” Bellamy said. “It’s not about two guys getting sacks. It’s about a coordinated pass rush and coverage working together. As far as that aspect, I think we’re doing pretty good.”
Bellamy said he talks about twice a week with Jenkins, who continues to tell his former teammate that sacks will come in due time. As a key piece in this year’s defense, Bellamy said he’s more concerned about handling himself as both an outside linebacker and an occasional defensive end. Individual stats such as sacks don’t mean nearly as much as improved techniques and strong defensive showings.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart also dispelled sacks being the be-all and end-all of how his defense plays on a given Saturday.
“We don’t count sacks as a big deal like the media do,” Kirby Smart said. “We count effecting the quarterback. If we can disrupt the quarterback, get him off the spot, move him, do those things, then we’re usually doing our job.”
Neither Smart nor the defenders are panicking about sack totals, but making some happen on Saturday may prove crucial.
Georgia’s defense is tasked with slowing down Missouri sophomore quarterback Drew Lock, who has thrown for 730 yards through two games. Lock hasn’t proven himself against SEC opposition, but he did well in the Tigers’ last game, a 61-21 victory over Eastern Michigan.
Even though sacking Lock isn’t a do-or-die task for the Bulldogs, it would certainly go a long way in affecting his performance as well as Georgia’s shot at starting conference play 1-0.
“I just think they have a plan of what they’re going to do, and they have great wide receivers,” Bellamy said. “They have a pretty good offensive line also, and that could also be the problem. I think the quarterback knows where he’s going with the ball along with good protection. It’s going to be hard to get him.”