This Bulldog D is tough

Long noted for tough, hard-nosed defensive play, it's certainly no surprise that the Georgia Bulldogs find themselves ranked 20th in the nation in total defense. The 2002 unit may not be quite up to par with the great "Junkyard Dog" squads of the past, but Georgia is plenty talented on ‘D.'

Tide Offensive Coordinator Les Koenning talked about the challenge. "Of course Georgia is a very talented football team. They're big; they're fast; they can run; they make plays. When you look at them, they're a very fine football team and well coached."

Strongside linebacker Boss Bailey has NFL talent.

Over the past several seasons defensive tackle has become something of a specialty for Georgia, with several Bulldog alums currently playing in the pros. "They've sent several people to the NFL the last couple of years," noted Koenning. "But they've got plenty of athletes left."

The Georgia defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 13 times this season. Tackle Johnathan Sullivan leads the team with 10 quarterback hurries. Next to him Kedric Golston is a force at nose tackle. At defensive end Will Thompson has 26 tackles and 2.5 quarterback sacks.

"They do a really nice job with their hands," Koenning said. "You see their defensive linemen make a lot of plays. They separate from blocks very well. We'll have to get into them and be very solid blocking them."

Only average against the pass, Georgia is giving up a meager 90.5 yards per game on the ground--good enough for 11th in the country. "A lot of linemen on other teams get blocked, but these guys extend, separate and make plays," Koenning said.

Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan

The most productive Bulldog D-Lineman is David Pollack. After four games the defensive end is Georgia's third-leading tackler with 31 stops. Pollack's name is all over the stat sheet. The 6-3, 264 pound sophomore has five sacks, six pass break-ups, one interception, seven quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

"They're very big up front," Koenning related. "If you compare them and Oklahoma, the Sooners were not quite as big as this bunch. This group is bigger up front, and they really play well."

Linebacker is a big Bulldog strength. Weakside linebacker Chris Clemons has 18 tackles, but Tony Gilbert and Boss Bailey are all-conference caliber. "Their linebackers are good, very good," Koenning said. "They're very talented."

Averaging 10 stops a game, Bailey is the leading Georgia tackler. Koenning commented, "Boss Bailey is a very good player. He'll probably be playing on Sundays next year. He's a rangy, strong player that is talented. He makes a lot of plays."

Middle linebacker Tony Gilbert grounds the Cadillac.

At 6-0, 244 pounds, Gilbert is a prototype tough-guy linebacker at the inside ‘Mike' position. The senior has 31 tackles and two sacks to his credit. "Gilbert is a real tough kid," Koenning said. "Both Bailey and Gilbert are really good players."

Versus the pass Georgia is yielding 195.8 yards per contest.

Like Alabama, the Bulldogs are only average in forcing interceptions. So far this season Georgia has only five interceptions on its ledger. Cornerback Bruce Thornton is the only returning secondary starter. Strong safety/rover Kentrell Curry is a ball hawk. Cornerback Decory Bryant has very good talent. Converted quarterback Sean Jones starts at free safety.

But other stats aside, if a team doesn't score, it can't win. And in the all-important Points-Per-Game category, the Bulldogs give up only 13.0 points per outing. That average ranks them 7th in the nation.

On the other hand, Alabama is scoring at a 29.80 rate.

"We're looking forward to the game," Koenning said. "We'll just have to see what happens."

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