For No. 3 Georgia’s SEC East game against No. 24 South Carolina last Saturday, the Bulldog defensive front was all about stopping the Gamecocks’ ground game.
"Our goal was to hold them rushing [for] 50 yards or less,” senior defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter told The Red & Black. “I don't know what our secondary was communicating back there, but the D-line as a group said that we're going to hold them to 50 yards or less."
The Bulldogs only allowed 54 rushing yards to South Carolina, hindering the Gamecock offense. The Gamecocks averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and the longest rush was from quarterback Jake Bentley when he got 11 yards in.
The run defense permitted the Bulldogs to control the game and force the Gamecocks into several passing plays. That resulted in a 41-17 drubbing of the Gamecocks by the Bulldogs.
“It's hard to win a game without being able to run the ball,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “If you give up enough big plays, which we gave up a few, it makes it tough to win. But, when you control the line of scrimmage in this conference, you've got an opportunity. And that's what we want to do week in and week out is control the line of scrimmage and still have good enough skill players to play."
Bentley threw the ball 31 times in the first half and 47 times after that. He averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt and South Carolina had difficulty sustaining any type of offense.
"I still feel like we gave up too many explosive plays in the run game,” senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker said. “I know, me personally, I missed the edge on one play and he got outside, and I feel like we still could get better at the run and the pass a lot."
In terms of Georgia’s defense, the Bulldogs had lost nine key contributors from their elite 2017 defense, but on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium, the Bulldogs’ run defense obstructed a South Carolina team’s run game, offense and hopes for taking Georgia out from the top of the SEC East.
“Look, we didn't play great in the secondary,” Smart said. “We gave up some passes. We gave up some things we can't do. But if we can control the line of scrimmage, I can promise you most teams would rather run the ball than have to throw it."
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