There are things that the 2018 Georgia football team has done well. There are things it hasn’t done so well, and there are things that the Bulldogs have improved on.
One constant in all of that is the run defense, which head coach Kirby Smart mentioned was an area of concern after a 36-17 victory over Florida last week.
For Georgia’s inside linebackers, it boils down to one thing: tackling. At that position, the Bulldogs have missed a lot of tackles. Georgia doesn’t have a player on the list of top tacklers in the SEC until sophomore linebacker Monty Rice, who is 22nd in the conference with 43 tackles.
“Missed tackles, that happens in the game, so that’s not really a big deal,” redshirt junior linebacker Tae Crowder said. “But we are really emphasizing on wrapping and securing the tackle.”
It isn’t really just one out of the four middle linebackers that is notorious for these specific errors in game. Smart mentioned that although senior Natrez Patrick is a leader on this year’s team, he’s also missed some tackles, but not for a lack of trying.
“He’s missed some tackles… [but] I’m not one to sit here and be critical,” Smart said. “Natrez is one of our leaders, and I think he leads by example with how he practices.”
Georgia will need that leadership from Patrick to work on the fundamentals of tackling before Saturday, as Kentucky’s Benny Snell already has 935 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, and counting.
Secured tackling will likely alleviate most of Georgia’s problems on defense. While stopping the run is the focus, its big picture to Rice, mainly with specific situations where the Bulldogs need to execute better.
“We’ve got to stop the run.. [but] make them play third and long,” Rice said. “We’ve just got to play good first and second down defense.