170916_JF_916football_0040.jpg

The University of Georgia player Lorenzo Carter sacks Samford University quarterback Devlin Hodges on Saturday night in Athens, Ga. Sept 16th, 2017 (Photo/Justin Fountain, justingf@uga.edu)

Every defense looks to establish its dominance early on in the game. However, the Georgia defense took that mantra to the next level on Saturday against the Samford Bulldogs.

On Samford’s first four drives of the contest, the Bulldogs forced a three-and-out. Samford didn’t pick up its inaugural first down until the 9:46 mark of the second quarter. That drive, perhaps not so coincidentally, led to Samford’s first touchdown of the game.

“I mean it helped,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “We made them punt, we got the ball back, we go down and score. I think those things help when you go three-and-out. It’s very disheartening for the opponent. It just takes the muster out, especially an offense like that.”

The early three-and-outs served to be particularly damaging to the Samford defense because of the nature of its offense. The visiting Bulldogs like to run an up-tempo style, and as such don’t stay on the field very long when they don’t pick up a first down.

In order, Samford's first four drives took 1:12, 1:36, 0:50 and 0:58 off the clock. It’s hard for a defense to stay fresh with quick rests like that.

“I know their defense was probably really tired out there,” sophomore defensive back J.R. Reed said. “I know they were tired of hitting our backs and tired of being out there for so long.”

Both Reed and senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter credited the team’s preparation over the past week for allowing the defense to get off to such a fast start. Reed said the scout team in particular played a vital role.

“Our scouts gave us a really good look,” Reed said. “They really ran actually a faster tempo than Samford did.”

This dominant start by the defense put to rest any thought of the team still being hung up on last week’s victory over Notre Dame. But according to Carter, that was never much of a concern for him anyway.

“I don’t really know what hangover we would have had,” Carter said. “We moved past that Notre Dame game I think a lot faster than the fans and the media did. We’re working on the next team, we’ve got 24 hours to relish a victory and that’s all we really have because next Saturday, we’re out there playing a game.”

Carter said the defense wanted to carry this start throughout the entire game, and for the most part they succeeded. Samford was allowed one long touchdown drive in the second quarter and another later in the second half, although the latter drive came against many of Georgia’s defensive reserves.

But even though the strong defensive performance today resulted in a victory, Carter knows there are still weaknesses to be adjusted before next weekend’s showdown with Mississippi State.

“We’ll go in, I’m sure we made mistakes, but we’ll go in, get those fixed and get ready for next week,” Carter said.