So far this season Georgia’s defense has been one of the best in the country, and Tuesday head coach Kirby Smart was asked about how his team prepares for upcoming games.
Smart said that his team watches and analyzes film of the next opponent’s offense, but he also thinks it’s important for them to watch tape of other defenses too.
Every week, Georgia quality control assistants gather film from NFL teams that they think can help the team learn. Smart wants his players to know as much about the game as possible, and he believes this can help them get better.
“They might be looking at pressures and sacks in the NFL,” Smart said. “We try to be on the cutting edge of our players being able to watch innovative things. They want to watch a new play that somebody ran in the NFL.”
It must seem to be working because Georgia’s defense is ranked ninth in the country in total defense. They also haven’t given up a rushing touchdown all season.
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Justin Young said watching tape from NFL games has prepared him to be quicker off his feet, and to become an efficiently better pass rusher.
“They might show us a clip of Aaron Donald and his pass rush moves,” said Young. “Being able to put as many pass rush moves in our bag as possible so we can pull them out on game day helps a lot.”
Young said there are a lot of different guys from around the league that he sees on the tape like the L.A. Rams’ Aaron Donald, but he also watches tape on former Bulldogs Lorenzo Carter and Leonard Floyd.
On Saturday, Georgia’s defense will face an up-tempo South Carolina offense. Gamecocks’ quarterback Ryan Hilinski threw for over 300 yards against Alabama a few weeks ago, and the offense had 459 total yards.
Junior outside linebacker Walter Grant knows that watching film will help the defense, but he admitted he could see South Carolina’s offense giving them a challenge.
“The big challenge really is the fast pace of [South Carolina’s] offense. They’re really fast, high-tempo,” said Grant. “They throw a lot of different looks at you to try and catch you off guard. We know we’re going to get their best every time we step out onto the field.”
Young said he’s watched film on South Carolina’s offense, and admits that he’s seen their offense get opposing defenses off balance.
“So far, we’ve been preaching all about the tempo,” said Young. “South Carolina goes fast, so I feel like today at practice our guys got periods where we were going high tempo, right into the play, every 10 seconds.”
Smart said he and his coaching staff have been making sure their players are getting enough reps and making them understand that they might see something they’re not prepared for. If that happens he expects that adjustments will be made and that he’s confident the defense will adapt.
The Bulldogs’ defense hopes they can match or even better their havoc rate against South Carolina.
“It’s all about getting into the backfield and making negative plays on first and second down,” said Grant. “We’ve got a minimum of negative plays we try and hit, but it would be better if we were to pass that number.”