Defense Wins the Day at G Day

ATHENS – Georgia's defense spent most of the 2008 season hearing about how bad they had played. The words hurt, but it was hard to argue with the results. They had hardly reached the standard to which they expect to be held.

So this spring brought a new attitude, linebacker Rennie Curran said. The defense has played with a chip on its shoulder, a goal to be reached and a mission to put the memories of last season's failures far behind them. It showed during a dominant defensive performance Saturday that saw just 16 points scored in Georgia's annual G-Day game.

"All the guys came out and played hard, played consistent, and I felt like we really made strides in terms of our discipline, not making those penalties and all that," Curran said. "So it was a good day overall."

Head coach Mark Richt was impressed by the performance, too.

Georgia's defenders kept the offense out of the end zone throughout the game until Carlton Thomas scored on a 20-yard run with just 1:08 left in the fourth quarter. Although the game time was reduced from 15-minute quarters to 10, the two offenses combined for just 329 total yards, while the defense racked up 10 combined sacks and Bryan Evans secured the game's only turnover – an interception of a Zach Mettenberger pass.

"The defense took this game very seriously and was excited about continuing the edge they had established this spring," Richt said. "I saw a lot of good, clean tackling and not many mistakes in the perimeter. I didn't see any busts that would make you nervous."

It was an important step for the defense's mentality, Curran said, but it was just the spring game. The true test, he said, will be keeping the edge the players have developed this spring through the long offseason and into the fall. But so far, Curran feels like the fresh start has done the defense a world of good.

"We have a lot more confidence in knowing that no matter where we are on the field, we can get the job done, get off the field and get the offense the ball back," Curran said. "It's really a different mentality that I see from each and every player."

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