Wrapping up and taking down

Brandon Sudge, Staff
GA Varsity

Radi Nabulsi

Nick Fitzgerald found his running back Aeris Williams on a check-down route, but any substantial gain was squandered quickly.

Georgia cornerback Aaron Davis was there as Williams only got two yards. Davis lowered his head, wrapped up his opposition and recorded a textbook tackle. It was one of six tackles for Davis in a 31-3 victory over Mississippi State.

All in all, the conference opener brought a solid performance out of Georgia’s defense, and a key part in that success has been the ability to complete tackles. It seems to be all about physicality.

“I would think that we practice that a lot,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “That's our objective is to knock the ball off of them, tackle them and catch it, get yards after catch. I'll be honest with you, sometimes in practice I get extremely frustrated because we don't do as well in practice as we do in games.”

Georgia collected 73 total tackles in the victory over its SEC West foe, many courtesy of Roquan Smith, Natrez Patrick and Davin Bellamy.

But also sandwiched in that unit were the defenders in Georgia’s secondary. DeAndre Baker collected eight, and Davis posted his aforementioned effort. J.R. Reed, however, led the way once more with 10 wrap-ups as the Bulldogs’ safety. It was the highest recorded total on the team thus far.

“It’s all about pursuit to the ball, and it’s something we practice every day,” Reed said. “Coach (Mel) Tucker tells us that we have to run toward that ball. For me, I just try to read run-pass and meet the defender.”

Georgia’s defense currently holds the 16th-best mark nationally by allowing 269.5 yards per game. In addition, the Bulldogs’ first unit has only allowed two touchdowns through four games. Both of the scores came after the defense was given a short field to work with after an offensive miscue.

For the secondary, the ability to finish a pursuit is something that is practiced frequently and( defensive coordinator) Tucker implores the importance of that detail. It involves a split-second decision, and Davis believes the experience in the secondary allows him to find success.

“It’s something that we pride ourselves on,” Davis said. “We don’t want to be known as a secondary that’s afraid to tackle. It can only help the team in all areas.”

While Georgia is off to a strong start and holds a No. 7 ranking in the Associated Press poll, Smart insists that his team has a plethora of areas to improve upon -- denying complacency.

So, is Smart pleased with how his defense has tackled thus far?

“No,” he said while exiting Monday’s press conference.

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