October 11, 2008

Defense sets the tempo

Sometimes, all it takes is a change of thought process against a particular team that can mean the difference between success and failure.

That was the opinion of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, who said a new way of thinking against Tennessee probably led to his defense having a better showing in Saturday's 26-14 win over the Volunteers than it had in ugly losses the past two seasons.

"The last couple of years we played them we just didn't feel like we had the right mentality," Martinez said. "We didn't have the right attitude as far as setting the tempo."

That wasn't the case Saturday.

After Tennessee received the opening kickoff, a quick 25-yard pass from Nick Stephens to Gerald Jones quickly put the Vols in business only to have the next three plays resulted in negative six, thanks to a sack by defensive tackle Corvey Irvin.

A decided tempo had been set.

"That was huge and allowed us to set a tempo of how the game was going to go from the beginning," defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "It was unfortunate that we couldn't cause any turnovers, but I think we at least came out with our hair on fire and was able to send a message from the get-go."

It was a message the Vols received loud and clear.

Although Tennessee managed 14 points, the Vols could only account for 209 yards of offense against the Bulldogs, who held Phillip Fulmer's squad to just one yard rushing on 15 attempts.

"Our defense against the run makes me the most proud," Dobb said. "That shows the mark of a great defense. We've still got long way to go and lot to do to improve and get where we need to be, but I definitely think tonight we did a good job stopping the run."

The Bulldogs extracted a measure of revenge on Vol running back Arian Foster in the process.

In his previous two games, Foster had gashed Georgia for a combined 161 yards and scored a remarkable six touchdowns.

Saturday, Foster was a non-factor, carrying the football just three times for three yards.

"Arian Foster has owned us the past two years and I think we did a good job of containing him," Dobbs said. "I was kind of surprised that their coaches didn't run him more than they did."

Then again, that's exactly what Martinez was hoping.

Making Tennessee one-dimensional was Georgia's plan all along.

"When we can make them one-dimensional, we have an idea what they're going to do. Anytime you can shut down a team that runs the football like we were able to do it's only gong to help you," Martinez said. "At the same time our offense helped us too, keeping the ball away, and forcing them to throw the ball when they were behind. That was huge today and I thought the guys responded well from our previous game."

Sam linebacker Akeem Dent said the entire defense played with a sense of urgency it didn't have two weeks ago against Alabama.

"We had our edge, we had our mentality that we were going to go out and stop them," Dent said. "I just felt we came out more prepared this week. We were really ready to come out and play."

Dobbs said he could sense frustration growing with members of Tennessee's offense as the game moved along.

Particularly, he said, with the Vols' offensive line.

"I could tell the linemen were starting to get frustrated with each other over who to pick up and who to block," Dobbs said. "They really didn't know what to expect with a lot of what we were doing."

Martinez chalked it all up to preparation.

"I thought the guys did a really good job of preparing. They felt solid. We had two good weeks of practice," he said. "The first week we were off we were able to go back to the basics with our thought process, and physically we got some guys healed up and this week I thought the guys did a really good job."



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