Defense has speed to burn

Anthony Dasher, Editor
GA Varsity
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Radi Nabulsi

The question barely made it out of a reporter’s mouth when linebacker Davin Bellamy shot back with a response regarding what’s been standing out about the play of the Georgia defense.

“Fast, I mean, we’re fast,” Bellamy said after Saturday’s 31-3 rout of Mississippi State. “This is a fast defense. Very fast, the fastest that I’ve ever been a part of and there’s talent all the way across the field.

"You can’t game plan on one person I feel like. If you do game plan on somebody, somebody else is going to get open. There’s a lot of speed out there.”

The numbers bear Bellamy out.

Although the final stats were padded by some success by Mississippi State in garbage time, Georgia’s effort was nonetheless impressive, considering Dan Mullen’s squad entered play as the leading scoring team in the SEC, averaging 47.7 points per contest.

“We knew they were going to be fast and they were going to be physical just like they were last week,” Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said. “They’re fast, they’re physical, and they’re a very good defense. They executed very well. We just didn’t go out and play a good game.”

Fitzgerald hasn’t had many nights like this.

The junior from Richmond Hill, Ga., was bottled up for the entire game, completing 14 of 29 passes for just 83 yards with two interceptions – one each by Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders. He rushed for 47 yards, but was never the factor running the football many thought he would be.

“From the defensive line, from the outside linebackers to Roquan Smith, Natrez Patrick, the secondary, Dom Sanders, Aaron Davis, myself, we like to fly around,” Baker said. “We can go.”

However, head coach Kirby Smart wasn’t ready to make any grandiose proclamations about Saturday’s play.

Complete effort? Not quite.

“It never seems like a complete effort. The score says that, but 177 yards rushing is never great for me. I know everyone will say, 'well,what were they averaging,' but it’s a thrill a minute over there,” Smart said. “They’re one play, one tackle away from breaking things and it never seems like you can do enough because they do a great job of running the quarterback and having more hats than we do.”

Effort was not a problem.

“Our effort was tremendous,” Smart said. “Wrapping up on that quarterback was really good, although we got sloppy there some in the second half.”

Credit some ill-timed comments from Mississippi State players for helping to light the fire.

Former teammates Johnathan Abram and Chauncey Rivers both had something to say during the week, including Rivers’ post on Twitter urging Mississippi State fans to “tune in for the upset.”

Abram, meanwhile, was quoted as saying MSU would “beat the brakes” off the Bulldogs.

“I think the guys were really fired up for this one,” Bellamy said. “We don’t talk. We come out and we talk with our hats. That’s a great team over there, but I think they added a little more fuel to the fire.”

Baker said getting the team’s first two interceptions was satisfying.

“It was good to get the takeaways. We didn’t want to force anything, but it was great to make those plays,” he said. “We just had to play our keys, stay with our assignments and eventually they’d start coming.”

Keeping Mississippi State out of the end zone was even bigger.

“The shutout was big,” Bellamy said. “I wish they wouldn’t have got three (points), but we’re glad that we were able to hold them out of the end zone. Our Red Zone defense was not good last year, so that’s been a point of emphasis.”

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