Defense Not Satisfied

ATHENS - David Pollack offered an ominous warning about Georgia's defense after Saturday's 13-3 stuffing of Marshall: "We can be better."

The Thundering Herd probably would contest that after being held to just 160 yards and seven first downs in falling to the third-ranked Bulldogs in the non-conference game at Sanford Stadium And considering more than a third of the yardage total came on the game's first play, who could blame them.

"Georgia's defense looked really good," understated Marshall quarterback Stan Hill, whose 57-yard pass to Emanuel Spann to start play from scrimmage was the Herd's lone offensive highlight of the day.

"They're one of the best in the nation."

Ian O'Conner converted the streak pattern down the sideline into Marshall's lone points of the game with a 33-yard field goal five plays later. The Herd attack, however, was stymied from there.

Marshall's yardage total was the lowest the Dogs had allowed since Arkansas managed only 139 in the 2002 SEC Championship Game. The Herd averaged only 3.5 yards per play, but just 2.3 without the Hill-to-Spann bomb. The points were the fewest for a Georgia opponent since the 30-0 shutout at Clemson to open the 2003 season.

"We knew we had to play hard against those guys," said safety Thomas Davis, who joined Jarvis Jackson with a team-leading six tackles. "The way they played Ohio State (24-21 loss on field goal as time expired), you can't take anything for granted. I think we played the way we needed."

Said defensive end Will Thompson, who shared in one of Georgia's three sacks: "We had a good plan and executed it pretty well. We played hard and were hustling from the start."

Marshall's offensive total included just 37 yards rushing. The longest of the day came on a Hill scramble for 11 yards early in the fourth quarter. The senior was hit late by safety Greg Blue tacking on another 15 yards making the run and penalty the Herd's second-biggest offensive advance of the day.

Hill's longest pass completion after the one to Spann covered 21 yards to Wilbur Hargrove on the first play after the kickoff from Georgia's lone touchdown of the day. It proved inconsequential, however, as the Dogs forced a punt four plays later.

"Georgia probably has the best front four in the nation," Hill said. "It's hard when they drop seven and their front four still gets pressure on you."

Hill's time in the pocket was precious after the opening play. Georgia players were at a loss to explain the quick strike, in which Hill faked a run and found Spann in the seam between the cornerback and safety.

"I don't know what happened back there," said Thompson, a junior and a former Northside High standout. "We came back from it. That's what's important."

The Dogs best effort of the day came early in the second half after Tyson Browning fumbled at the end of a pass reception. The Herd recovered the bobble at the 23, and personal foul penalty gave it the ball on the 11.

Running back Earl Charles got 7 yards on the first play, but could manage just two more on following runs to set up fourth down. The Herd bypassed the field goal, and Hill was pressured by Davis on a roll out, badly underthrowing tight end Jeff Mullins on the goal line.

"Good defenses bail out the offense when they make a mistake," said Pollack, a senior defensive end. "We had to stuff them there, and we did. At that part of the game, it was big."

Their offensive mates, who had 371 yards but converted just 3 of 14 third downs, were appreciative.

"We watched that (Ohio State) film. That's an explosive offense," Dogs quarterback David Greene said. "That was a great defensive effort. To do that to (Marshall's offense), that tells you something about our guys."

And what about a repeat in two weeks when defending national champion LSU visits?

"We have to be better," Davis said.

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