Capitals

Richt pleased with No. 5 Georgia's timely defense

201210021413511829662-p2.jpeg

Richt pleased with No. 5 Georgia's timely defense

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Georgia coach Mark Richt is not worried about his team's defense, no matter how many yards the Bulldogs have allowed this season.

No. 5 Georgia ranks near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference, 10th among league defenses at more than 370 yards a game given up.

That's almost 100 yards more than the team gave up a game a year ago when Georgia was fourth in the league and adding to the SEC's reputation for powerhouse defense. The Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) must ramp things up defensively this week against No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) in a Eastern Division showdown sure to have a bearing on who will play for an SEC championship.

Richt says his players have made the critical stops with the game on the line, something that's helped the Bulldogs to their first 5-0 start since 2006.

Not that it's been pretty. Georgia gave up 371 yards in the SEC opener against Missouri and 478 last week in beating Tennessee 51-44.

Richt brushes aside the outside grumbling about Georgia's porous defense. Great stats, he says, don't always equal winning records. ``I was more concerned about are we going to stop people when we have to stop them, when it means the most,'' Richt said. ``I think that happened in the Missouri game and I think it happened in the Tennessee game defensively.

``I'm pleased with that,'' he said.

Georgia got three turnovers to hold on against Missouri, including a fourth-quarter interception by star linebacker Jarvis Jones. The Bulldogs picked up three interceptions and a fumble to beat the Vols. Perhaps more importantly, the defense got back suspended starters in linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Baccarri Rambo.

Ogletree made a career-high 14 tackles and tipped a pass that led to an interception. Rambo had nine tackles.

Jones is the leader, though, with 4 1/2 sacks and eight tackles for loss this season.

Georgia has had its troubles stopping South Carolina's rushing attack the past two years. Gamecocks star Marcus Lattimore scorched the Bulldogs for 182 yards and two touchdowns in 2010 and 176 yards and a touchdown last season - both South Carolina victories.

The Gamecocks have picked up defensively where they left off a year ago when they finished third nationally.

South Carolina's defense showed that last week in a 38-17 win at Kentucky. The Gamecocks gave up 196 yards and trailed 17-7 at the half, then held the Wildcats to 47 yards and no points the rest of the way.

Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is second in the SEC with 5 1/2 sacks. Clowney's sack of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray late in last year's 45-42 win over the Bulldogs led to a crucial fumble that Melvin Ingram returned for a touchdown and provided the Gamecocks' winning margin.

South Carolina has been just as disruptive on defense this season, tied for second in the country with 22 sacks. Defensive line coach Brad Lawing says the Gamecocks are gaining pressure without blitzing - he thinks they've called two blitzes all season - taking advantage of speed rushers like Clowney and defensive end Devin Taylor to affect quarterbacks.

``Those are the best defenses, when you trust your players to just make plays and they do that,'' said Murray, who'll again have to dodge South Carolina's quick defenders. ``They do a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback without blitzing.''

Murray has connected on 68 percent of his passes this year, throwing for 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Georgia's offensive line is also rounding into form, giving up just two of the team's seven sacks allowed in the last three games.

Georgia's offense took a hit this week with the loss of leading receiver Michael Bennett, who tore a knee ligament at practice Tuesday. That means the Bulldogs could rely even more heavily on freshmen runners Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall - nicknamed ``Gur-shall'' by fans - who combined for 294 yards and five TDs against the Vols last week.

Clowney thinks the Gamecocks can get to Murray again and slow down a Bulldogs' offense that's scored 41 points or better in every game this season. ``Every quarterback if you get pressure on them, they're going to make mistakes,'' Clowney said.

South Carolina is seeking its school record 10th straight victory and its third in a row over Georgia, something that's never happened in a series first played in 1894.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier says he's not putting much stock into Georgia's defensive numbers, expecting a stout group of Bulldogs ready to fight for every yard. Spurrier, like Richt, says Georgia plays well in the fourth quarter when it matters most.

Stats bear that out, the Bulldogs gave given up 37 second-half points this year compared to the 73 opponents have scored on them in the first two quarters.

``Reminds me a little bit of Auburn two years ago, their defense wasn't ranked very high either,'' Spurrier said. ``In the fourth quarter, they stopped people. They won every game, somehow, doing that.''

Quick Links

Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

TOM WILSON IS ALL JACKED UP ON MOUNTAIN DEW. 

17 minutes into Game 7 and Tom Wilson is already out here doing Tom Wilson things. 

First, there were these shenanigans:

Pretty standard stuff. Some anger words, some glove pulling. Nothing special. Then, friends - then it gets real:

Let this marinate a little bit. Wilson got a minor for fighting, served his time, and then IMMEDIATELY came out of the box and did literally the exact same thing. 

He punched a guys helmet off. Those helmets have straps to stay on for this exact reason, and it didn't matter. If this was medieval jousting, Braydon Coburn would be declared the loser on the spot. 

Get you a friend like Tom Wilson. 

MORE CAPITALS STORIES

Quick Links

Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

chasebballcollage.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!