Dawgs Want More Sacks

ATHENS – Jeremy Lomax isn't selfish. The senior defensive end isn't looking for glory, he said. He's looking for wins.

So it doesn't matter to Lomax if it isn't Georgia's ends that rack up impressive sack totals. He's OK with more blitz schemes. In fact, he'd suggest rushing 11 defenders on each play if he thought it would result in the quarterback hitting the ground before the ball left his hand.

"I don't like that dropping back into coverage stuff," Lomax said. "It makes my skin crawl. As long as we're rushing, I'm happy."

The problem for Lomax – and for the Bulldogs – is that regardless of the defensive scheme, Georgia hasn't had much luck bringing down quarterbacks.

Through five games, the Bulldogs have just 11 sacks, four of which came against Arizona State. Only three have come in SEC play, including a one-sack performance in their last game against Alabama, when Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 13-of-16 passes and saw little pressure from Georgia.

Alabama's offensive attack was especially frustrating for the Bulldogs. Head coach Mark Richt said Georgia found itself in the wrong play on defense routinely in the first half, and Wilson counteracted any pass rush with quick passes and play action.

"They didn't have to do anything special," Richt said. "It's hard to put pressure on that when it looks so much like the run.

Wilson's ability to get rid of the ball quickly and keep Georgia guessing played havoc with the Bulldogs' defense early. Wilson completed 10-of-11 first-half passes en route to a 31-0 halftime lead.

It was the running game, however, that set up Wilson's success – and Georgia's failure. Alabama ran the ball 25 times in the first half and threw just 11 passes, baffling Georgia's pass rushers nearly every time.

"With the run-oriented (offenses), the pass catches you off guard," Lomax said. "So not knowing when it's a passing down, it's kind of hard. You're locked up with a lineman and you try to shed him, you think it's a run."

Although the pass rush didn't drastically improve in the second half, Georgia's performance did. The explanation, Richt said, was two-fold.

First, the Bulldogs' offense played better. Because of Georgia's inability to put points on the scoreboard early, Richt said, Alabama was able to throw only at the optimal times. The Tide never had to play catch-up.

The bigger reason, however, was simply luck.

"I think some of our calls just timed better with what they were doing in the second half," Richt said. "It seemed like everything we called in the first half got collected because they were in a good play. They just happened to be in the right call. Sometimes in the second half, they were in the wrong call and we were in the right call, and it made all the difference."

Lomax isn't willing to cross his fingers and hope Georgia's play calls match up well against Tennessee this week. He said the burden of stopping the Volunteers' offense – and getting to their quarterback – lies with the defensive ends. Accomplishing the task, he said, starts in the film room.

"Get in the film room, watch more film, and I feel like us as a whole have been slacking at that," Lomax said. "We need to be able to read stances more and know whether it's run or pass."

Looking back, however, the loss to Alabama didn't come without a silver lining.

The defensive ends have been under the microscope all season for the lack of pressure they have been able to inflict on opposing quarterbacks, but the way they were handled by the Tide, Lomax said, was like a slap in the face.

"The pass rush is key to everything," Lomax said. "If you don't have a pass rush, the quarterback is going to sit back there and look like an All-American. We focus on the pass rush every week, we're going to focus on it more this week."


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