OXFORD, Miss. -Todd Grantham wasn't ready to call his defense's effort in Saturday's 27-13 win over Ole Miss the best overall effort he's seen from Georgia in one-plus years as defensive coordinator.
But it wasn't bad.
"I think since I have been here this is probably the most solid game. They executed everything that we preach," Grantham said. "I'm proud of these guys; I love these guys to death. I've always talked about our habitual traits, habits and if you look at the game you've got to play every day, to the last play and don't let the last play affect the next play."
Not much affected the Bulldogs this afternoon
Georgia held the Rebels to just 183 total yards and only one score as the second of Ole Miss' two touchdowns scored on an 81-yard punt return.
"We were cranked up," said safety Bacarri Rambo. "We had two of our starters out (Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson but everyone else stepped up and made plays when they had to."
Freshman Amarlo Herrera and junior Mike Gilliard certainly deserve their share of credit.
Gilliard and Herrera topped Georgia with seven and six tackles, respectively, as Shawn Williams moved back to his customary spot at strong safety after subbing at Moe linebacker in last week's game against Coastal Carolina.
"We're playing with some young players. I've always said that injury creates depth," Grantham said. "Shawn Williams played safety today and the reason we did that was the way it was going to be, so we played Amarlo and Mike inside and I thought all those guys busted their tail."
Ole Miss couldn't get anything going offensively.
The Rebels managed just 34 rushing yards and 149 through the air. After recording just one sack in their first three games, the Bulldogs quadrupled that total Saturday with four, including one each by Cornelius Washington, Abry Jones and Jarvis Jones.
"We got a good push from our inside guys," Grantham said.
Rambo played a big role as well.
The junior picked off two passes, his third and fourth interceptions since being suspended for the opener against Boise State.
"I think I'm doing a much better job of reading the quarterback. Coach (Scott) Lakatos always talks to me about leverage and how to line up so it's just small things I've really improved at," Rambo said. ""I never imagined myself having four picks; all I've tried to do is help the team the best I can. When everybody on defense does their job, it makes everyone's job a lot easier. I'm real happy with our performance."
In fact, it took a trick play for Ole Miss to score its only offensive touchdown when quarterback Randall Mackey took a pitch back before throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief late in the second quarter.
After the score, the Rebels successful executed an onside kick but failed to move the ball and were stopped completely when Rambo picked off the first of his passes.
"You don't let external factors get into affecting you because the only thing that affects your performance is you," Grantham said. "The biggest thing since I've done here is preach to play as hard as you can and I think this game. There were some times when our backs were against the wall and the guys maintained their poise and they played the next play. "
"We feel like the whole defense is improved," Rambo said. "Next week, it might be (Brandon) Boykin who goes out and gets two picks. When everybody is doing their job, when the quarterback puts the ball up, we've got guys who can make the play."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]