Georgia doubles down on triple-option

semerson@macon.comNovember 13, 2012 

ATHENS -- There were more than a few Georgia football players who have been dreading this week. And they tend to reside on defense.

Once a year, they expect to have to defend a triple-option defense and all the cut-blocking and funky running plays that come with it. But this year it’s worse: Georgia will spend the next two weeks doing it, first against Georgia Southern, then against Georgia Tech.

And all that will take place while all anybody wants to talk about is the SEC championship, which comes after these two games.

“It’s pretty annoying,” senior cornerback Sanders Commings said. “I wish whoever had scheduled that would’ve done it a little different.”

The man who scheduled it, or at least signed off on it, explained himself Tuesday.

“A lot of time, it’s a matter of making it fit everybody’s schedule,” head coach Mark Richt said. “We had the open date there, and we have to make sure it fits Georgia Southern’s schedule, as well, and it just ended up working out that that’s where it got placed. I think if you’re going to play that type of offense twice in a season, it’s probably better to do it back-to-back rather than in game four and game nine.”

Commings and the other defensive players actually agreed with that last part: Better to play Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks. But it’s still a headache on a massive scale.

“I hate games like this personally,” All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “I’m sure everybody on defense does, too. This week is gonna be very intense, especially in practice. Because everybody hates it, and they’re kinda (ticked) off that we gotta go through it.

“But it’s gonna make us that much better, because you’ve gotta shift your focus from not just your usual spread offense. We’ve just gotta be disciplined and get that much better.”

The fact that Georgia is still in the national championship pictures also appears to forestall any looking ahead to the SEC championship game, presumably against Alabama. In order to keep BCS hopes alive, the Bulldogs have to not only win the next two, but, according to a few players, they have to do so impressively.

“We have to win. We have to win good,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “The BCS is all a fashion show. So you have to win games big if we want to be one of the top teams. We know we have to win these next two games if we want to give ourselves a shot of playing in Miami.”

Several Georgia football players also believe they are competing this week with Alabama -- but in an unconventional way.

Last year at just about the same time of the season, Alabama played Georgia Southern. Although Alabama got the win, it was closer than expected (45-21) and Georgia Southern’s option offense gained 302 rushing yards, the most against Alabama during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure.

“I figure us doing a lot better,” Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “I don’t wanna see nobody get 300-something on us, because Georgia Tech didn’t get that much last year.”

Georgia senior linebacker Christian Robinson also put this game -- and the following week -- in the context of Alabama and Georgia’s fleeting title hopes.

“These next two weeks have just become even bigger, because people are gonna be watching, people are gonna be seeing how you compare to how Alabama played it last year,” Robinson said. “That’s kind of the standard at this point, because they won the national championship. How well you defend the option will be big in how they perceive us long-term.”

But is there a danger -- since Alabama runs a pro-style offense -- in getting too used to facing the triple-option before the most important game of the year?

“It’s two weeks of this, and then it’s back to normal,” Herrera said. “It shouldn’t be that bad, because we’ve been doing that all year, (defending) the pro style. So it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

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