No. 2 Georgia looks to shore up defense against No. 13 LSU
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Linebacker Natrez Patrick says No. 2 Georgia hasn’t come close to playing a complete game on defense.
The Bulldogs rank second nationally in scoring average and sixth in average yards allowed. They have trailed just once this season, for 15 seconds against Vanderbilt in a lopsided victory last week, but Patrick isn’t impressed.
“There’s been a couple games where we felt we could have played better, but that’s showing the ceiling that we feel there’s still room to grow,” Patrick said. “I feel it’s a positive thing that we’re still working, that we haven’t hit that top. Guys know there’s still room for improvement.”
Georgia (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) will get a better understanding of where it stands defensively after visiting No. 13 LSU (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday. Tigers running back Nick Brossette averages 96 yards per game, fifth-best in the Southeastern Conference, and has eight rushing touchdowns, three more than the Bulldogs have allowed this year.
Patrick, a fourth-year senior, has been a starter through most of the last three seasons. He knows LSU, despite losing last week at Florida , won’t go down easily. The Tigers already have a pair of victories against Top 10 opponents and are 6-0 under coach Ed Orgeron following a loss.
They haven’t dropped consecutive games since November 2015.
“It will definitely be a great test for us and a great test for our defense and one that we’re going to have to bring our best game,” Patrick said. “We’re going to have to play our best game in this game.”
Georgia got off to a sloppy start last week . Vanderbilt racked up 230 yards in the first half as quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed 10 of 17 passes and converted a pair of long third-down chances.
But the Bulldogs held the Commodores to two field goals before halftime, thanks in part to Jordan Davis stopping a runner on fourth-and-1.
Orgeron said Georgia coach Kirby Smart is able to play his base defensive scheme often because he fields “one of the best defenses in the country.”
“He doesn’t have to blitz,” Orgeron said. “They don’t have a lot of sacks (but) they do affect the quarterback. They stop the run. They’re big.
“They tackle well. They have big impressive personnel and their corners lock up,” Orgeron added. “They can play eight men in the box and they can play man coverage with anybody they want to.”
LSU is a tougher opponent in a hostile environment, though Smart believes his team will adapt quickly to the raucous atmosphere at Tiger Stadium.
“It can only get so loud until you can’t hear anything, and you cannot hear anything in that stadium,” Smart said. “You can’t hear anything in a lot of SEC stadiums, so it is what it is. We’ve just got to go out and execute. We know it’s going to be a factor.”
Smart wasn’t pleased with the performance against Vanderbilt. He believes facing LSU will be a good measuring stick for how tough his team is.
“I think that’s something you find out,” Smart said. “South Carolina was a very physical game. Missouri was a physical game. Tennessee was a physical game. The SEC is a physical league. So I’m not discounting or discrediting LSU at all. They’ve got a really physical, big football team. But we’re going to find out a lot about our team.”
Patrick says Georgia wasn’t dominant enough in its last road game, allowing Missouri’s four rushing touchdowns in a 43-29 win. The Bulldogs will be without injured defensive end David Marshall, one of their best run stoppers.
“We don’t judge the game based off scoreboard, or based off points, or first downs,” Patrick said. “We judge the game based off how we feel physically after the game. If we feel we physically imposed our will on the other team, and if we feel we physically dominated the other team, that’s when we feel like we’ve had a good game.
“Anything less is unacceptable, anything less is not the standard.”