Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) almost intercepts a late fourth quarter Florida pass near the end zone. The Florida Gators fell to the Georgia Bulldogs 34 to Jacksonville, Florida Saturday, October 30, 2021. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

Syndication Gainesville Sun

No. 1 Georgia continues making history on defense

Every time top-ranked Georgia takes the field, the Bulldogs’ defense will be facing more than an opposing offense.

The Bulldogs’ underlying opponent each week is history.

Georgia’s defense, through nine games, has rivaled any unit that has ever played. The Bulldogs have given up 59 points — and average of 6.56 per game — after holding Missouri to just two field goals in a 43-6 win last week.

Georgia is the first team since Alabama in 1992 to hold each of its first nine opponents under 14 points. And even 2011 Alabama, which featured at least statistically, the best defense that coach Nick Saban has fielded in Tuscaloosa, allowed 64 points through nine games and 106 in 12 regular-season games before blanking LSU, 21-0, in the BCS title game.

This season, the Bulldogs (9-0, 7-0 SEC) could have given up 73 more points than they’ve allowed so far and they’d still be leading the Football Bowl Subdivision, ahead of Texas A&M who is ranked second having allowed 132 points (14.67 points per game).

The Bulldogs have also done it against one of college football’s toughest schedules, as four of Georgia’s wins are against teams that were ranked at the time of the teams’ meeting — Clemson (No. 3), Arkansas (No. 8), Auburn (No. 18) and Kentucky (No. 11). Those four opponents scored 26 points combined.

The Bulldogs’ 59 points are the fewest the program has allowed through nine games since the 1971 squad allowed just 53 en route to finishing 11-1. Georgia gave up 115 points that year.

Georgia’s final three regular-season opponents — Tennessee (5-4, 3-3 SEC), Charleston Southern (3-5) and Georgia Tech (3-6) — should all face a daunting challenge moving the ball against the Bulldogs. Georgia ranks second nationally in total defense (231.8 yards per game), first downs allowed (119), rushing defense (80.7 yards) and passing defense (151.1 yards

But all Georgia coach Kirby Smart is focusing on is stopping Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and the Volunteers, who are averaging 38.2 points per game, on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. Hooker threw for a career-high 316 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-42 win at then-No. 18 Kentucky last week.

“Hendon Hooker is a tremendous athlete,” Smart said Monday. “He’s hard to tackle. He’s big, physical and has a strong arm.

“They’ve got an extremely good group of wideouts. They’re extremely physical, big, have size and speed. They are really fast on tape. We know the players they are running past. They are good football players that they are running past, making explosive plays.”

The Bulldogs have shown balance throughout their defense.

Seven players have made at least 29 tackles, led by Channing Tindall (45), Lewis Cine (40) and Quay Walker (39). Eight have at least one interception, led by safety Christopher Smith and linebacker Nakobe Dean, who each have two.

Fourteen players have at least one sack and four have at least three, including Dean (3.5), Travon Walker (3.5) and Jalen Carter (3). Linebacker Adam Anderson, who leads the team with five sacks, was suspended indefinitely last week after being accused of raping a 21-year-old woman.

“They are big, long, physical, athletic and they play with speed,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said. “They do a great job of retracing on perimeter screens, and when you think you got space, it closes down pretty quickly. … The depth of their football team is a big part of their success.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive back Marquise Blair (27) breaks up a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson (1) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks’ defense on pace to allow record number of yards

The Seattle Seahawks find themselves on pace to break an unenviable record following Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Seahawks’ defense was ranked last in the NFL in total yards heading into Thursday night’s game. Seattle surrendered 476 total yards to the Rams, boosting its total to 2,254 yards through five games.

That’s an average of 450.8 yards a game, and puts the Seahawks on pace to surrender 7,663.6 yards in a 17-game season. That would be the most in NFL history, according to Pro Football Talk.

The current record for yards allowed in a season is 7,042, set by the New Orleans Saints in 2012. That Saints surrendered 440.1 yards a game over a 16-game season. That means the Seahawks wouldn’t set the record solely based on the new 17-game schedule.

The Seahawks (2-3) return to action against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 17.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lions’ Patricia gives up defensive play calling

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is turning over the play calling on defense to first-year defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

Patricia called the bulk of the plays last season when Paul Pasqualoni served as defensive coordinator. But with Undlin in charge of the plays, Patricia told reporters Monday that he’ll have more opportunity to help the Lions make in-game adjustments on offense and on special teams.

“Just in general, philosophy for me as a head coach is to manage the game, and make sure that I’m there for all three phases when questions come up and certainly (when) we’re talking through scenarios, situational football as it comes up through the course of the game, penalties, things like that, and then obviously input,” Patricia said.

“It’s free rein where I get to help and sometimes I see the game a little bit differently from my lens as the head coach as opposed to when you’re a coordinator and you’re dialed in to that call, that play, the next call or the next situation. Sometimes bigger picture stuff I can help with.”

Patricia’s record in his first two seasons leading the Lions is 9-22-1. He was the defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for six seasons prior to moving on to Detroit and was with the Patriots from 2004-17.

Last season, the Lions’ defense was last in passing defense (284.4 yards per game) and 21st in rushing defense (115.9 yards). The Lions could have as many as six new starters on defense in 2020.

“Cory has been grinding away,” Patricia said. “He’s our defensive coordinator. He’s been working to understand everything that we’re doing defensively and obviously has his input.

“Cory and I have known each other a long time. Certainly without the spring it was obviously going to be interesting to see how training camp went and the operation and all that. He’s ready to go; he’s ready to call it and do what he’s got to do. He’s the defensive coordinator.”

Undlin will be calling the plays from the field instead of the booth. For the past five seasons, he was the defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Lions are scheduled to open the season against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13 in Detroit.

–Field Level Media