Saturday May 28th, 2016 2:31PM

Fifth-ranked Dogs get ready to defend spread option

By The Associated Press
ATHENS -- Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said that the No. 5 Bulldogs have done a good job of bringing respectability back to their defense.

The Bulldogs allowed just 19 total points in their last three games and clinched the SEC East title last week at Auburn, but their defense is hardly looking forward to facing the next two opponents.

Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech both use a spread option offense that relies on cut blocks - a legal, below-the-waist technique that tries to get defenders on the ground quickly so ball-carriers can exploit open space.

Commings doesn't like having to prepare for it.

"We've got to do it, though," he said Tuesday. "It's another step to get to the national championship."

When Georgia (9-1) hosts Georgia Southern (8-2) on Saturday, the Bulldogs will face an offense that leads the FCS in rushing and ranks 10th in scoring.

Georgia Tech, which visits Sanford Stadium next week, ranks fourth in FBS rushing and 19th in scoring.

Last week against Howard, Georgia Southern scored 69 points. Last week at North Carolina, Georgia Tech scored 68.

The similarities between the two schools are easy to see. Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken worked on Paul Johnson's staff at Tech, Navy and Georgia Southern.

When Monken left Tech to take the job at Southern, he brought Johnson's offense with him.

"They are perfect for what they do," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "They do a lot of zone blocking, but they'll get to the second level and work on the cut blocks. They do a lot of speed sweeps, and they need a lot of guys who can run and hit, and they have a bunch of those. They do just a great job overall."

To prepare for the spread option, Richt had the Bulldogs wear full pads in practice on Monday, and the coach indicated that he might continue the approach the rest of this week and maybe into next week, too.

Richt said the best way to practice against the spread option and cut blocks is to take a full-speed approach.

After facing Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs will play a more traditional offense, likely No. 4 Alabama's, in the SEC championship. Richt, though, insists that Georgia's defense needs to concern itself only with stopping the spread option and not look ahead at dates that might seem bigger on a national stage.

"Some of the schemes and responsibilities will be vastly different - there's no doubt about that," Richt said. "If we don't focus on this we'll get embarrassed badly."

Georgia Southern has never beaten an FBS opponent in 19 tries, but those kinds of numbers didn't stop the Eagles from giving up before they faced Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa.

The Eagles, who have won six FCS national titles, racked up 302 yards rushing in a 45-21 loss to the eventual national champion Crimson Tide.

Like any team facing a spread option, Georgia will need to force abundant three-and-outs. Spread option attacks are dependent on converting third downs and controlling the clock.

Bulldogs nose guard John Jenkins, whose defense has forced 55 three-and-outs this year to rank fourth nationally, says it would be a pleasure to get off the field as quickly as possible.

"I really don't like that type of offense where they just chop your knees and they grab your leg and roll up on you and hold your leg," Jenkins said. "That's no fun. I think it's cheating. They do it legally, but it shouldn't be legal."

For Jenkins, who hopes to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft next year, there's a fine line between trying to win a game and using a technique that could threaten a career.

In last year's win over Georgia Tech, former Georgia defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson was lost for the season and missed the SEC title game loss to LSU because of a cut block that injured his ankle.

"It's a different way to look at it when you're toying with people's livelihoods," Jenkins said. "I've read stories about people getting cut the wrong way and they no longer can play football. They're using football to feed their family, so it's kind strange and different."

Commings just hopes the Bulldogs' defense comes through both games at full strength.

"We pretty much get cut on every running play they run," Commings said. "Whether it's by a receiver or one of the wing backs looping around to cut us, it's a difficult offense to face. They cut on every play, every position."
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 3 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 3 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 3 years ago )
Tech's 2nd half surge beats Fordham 73-48
Daniel Miller and Robert Carter Jr. each scored 14 points and Georgia Tech scored 17 straight points in the second half en route to a 73-48 victory over Fordham on Saturday night.
10:17PM ( 3 years ago )
Djurisic's career night leads Dogs past Florida A&M
Nemanja Djurisic scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia won its third straight Saturday 82-73 over Florida A&M.
7:26PM ( 3 years ago )
Ga. Southern beats Ga. State, 68-64 in overtime
Eric Ferguson scored 24 points and Georgia Southern overcame a late double-digit deficit to beat Georgia State 68-64 in overtime on Saturday.
7:25PM ( 3 years ago )
College Sports
Golf: Ralston, Forrester amongst 11 area golfers named All-State
Gainesville's Spencer Ralston was named Class AAAAA boys player of the year, while North Hall's Bartley Forrester was named first team for Class AAAA boys in the 2016 Georgia High School Golf Coaches Association (GHSGCA) All-State team released this week.
By AccessWDUN Staff
7:19PM ( 4 hours from now )
McCoy starts strong, but Bulldogs golf struggles on 1st day of NCAAs
The No. 6-ranked Georgia men’s golf team opened the NCAA Championships in 19th place on Friday.
By UGA Sports Communications
1:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
Larson closing in on first NASCAR Sprint Cup win
Kyle Larson is close – and he knows it. Two weeks ago at Dover International Speedway, he ran a near second to Matt Kenseth in the AAA 400, dogging the race winner to the finish line on the final green-flag run.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 6 hours ago )
Kanaan leads Carb Day practice for Sunday’s Indy 500
He may be starting 18th in Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, but Tony Kanaan believes he has a car that can win the historic race.
By IndyCar Media
1:54AM ( 12 hours ago )
Markakis has 2-run single in 8th, Braves top Marlins 4-2
Nick Markakis hit a tie-breaking, two-run single off third baseman Nick Prado's glove with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-2 on Friday night for a rare home win.
By The Associated Press
11:06PM ( 15 hours ago )