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Clarkson: Defense not too worried.


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"It don't mean a thing" isn't just the first line of a Duke Ellington tune. Sure, Georgia's first-team defense gave up a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the first possession. Sure the first-team defense allowed 17 points. Sure, Georgia's defense gave up 249 total yards and 15 first downs in a 32-minute scrimmage.

Until Georgia opens the season on August against Georgia Southern, the statistics that Georgia fans will over-analyze all summer will make little impact on how the defense performs when the regular season starts.

To quote the always eloquent Allen Iverson: "We're talkin' 'bout practice, man.' "

Last spring, Georgia's offenses combined for 642 yards and 55 points against the defenses. All that did was give fans something to fret about all summer.

When the 2007 season ended, Georgia finished third in the SEC in total defense and third in scoring defense.

"Last year we gave up a lot of yards and everything," safety CJ Byrd said. "Anytime you're competing and everybody wants to win so yeah, it means something. I guess the offense got the better hand today. That means the defense is going to have to come back and work that much harder in the summer."

The G-Day scrimmage structure lassoed the defense. Quarterbacks were protected like president Bush, which takes away half of the fun of playing defense.

"Hitting that quarterback, shaking him up and getting him thinking, that's part of the game," linebacker Rennie Curran said. "We couldn't do that today because they had the green shirt on. That was one of our big tactics last year, shaking up every quarterback, especially the passing ones."

The first-team defense gave up points on three of the four possessions it was on the field. But the second-team defense set up one touchdown with a 40-yard fumble return by Akeem Hebron.

"We looked good at different points, but we gave up too many big plays," Byrd said. "Giving up big plays is a good thing because we can fix that. It's not like they were just driving and driving and driving and wearing us out or anything."

Defensive mistakes usually result in big plays. Missed tackles, missed communication and messed-up assignments are correctable errors. Georgia has more than three months to fix them.

"They gave up a couple of big plays," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "I don't think it was necessarily something to worry about structurally. We were in position to make plays and they did and we didn't. You've got to give the offense some credit, too."

Georgia's first teams matched up on the first possession and the offense slapped the defense's pride right in the face. Matthew Stafford led the offense on a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive against Dannell Ellerbe and company.

Stafford threw two 30-yard passes on that first drive, including a 30-yard touchdown to Michael Moore. Backup quarterback Logan Gray also hit Moore for a 12-yard touchdown against the first-team defense. The first-team defense allowed a field goal to the first-team, hurry-up offense at the end of the half.

"Occasionally we let that big play in there and that's one thing that will kill us," Curran said. "We've got a lot of work to do in the offseason."


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