Wizards

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

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

leonard-raptors-usat.jpg
USA Today

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

More Redskins news