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An outstanding Georgia Bulldogs defense has not only led to top ranking in the nation, but talks of becoming the G.O.A.T. defense in college football. Wearing the crown is the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide defense, whose 183.7 yards and 8.2 points allowed per game led to their dominant 11-1 regular season campaign — en route to a BCS Championship shutout against Les Miles’ LSU Tigers (21-0).
Statistically, the Bulldogs are coming in just short of reaching Bama’s historic defense. Per Alex Kirschner at FiveThirtyEight and data provided by ESPN’s Stats & Information, “By yards allowed per play, Georgia’s 3.56 is just behind 2011 Bama’s 3.32 and 2004 North Carolina State’s 3.47. In expected offensive points allowed per play, Georgia’s -0.35 figure leads 2011 Bama’s -0.33 for first place since at least 2004.”
The formidable defensive line has been spearheaded by Jordan Davis — accumulating 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss throughout five games. Moving down the field, Nakobe Dean is having a tremendous season securing the middle while the secondary makes going over the top a nightmare for offenses. Seven different players on the Georgia defense have recorded an interception in the six-game season.
Despite losing cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, along with edge rusher Azeez Ojulari, in the 2021 NFL Draft, Georgia still managed to fill in the voids and build a unit to be remembered.
Georgia still has some road ahead to the all-time bragging rights, but upcoming teams are taking notice to the challenge of playing in Athens, or even at home, against the Bulldogs defense. Facing off against No. 11 Kentucky on Saturday, Wildcats offensive coordinator Liam Coen anticipates the stalwart group to demand more from his offense.
Coen said his team will need to be “special” in order to survive against the Bulldogs defense. “They’re playing a little more zone coverage than they used to,” said Coen. “They’re playing the run with some light boxes; letting their front handle the run and letting their safeties play a little top-down. A little bit of a different scheme than what they were doing last year.”
Stetson Bennett, J.T. Daniels and the Georgia offense have not been shabby themselves: averaging 39.8 points this season and 44.3 in their last three contests. Both units will have to be ready to take on the 2021 Crimson Tide, whose recent loss to Texas A&M may be a hiccup, but certainly not the end of their reign.
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Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela