“If you’ve got one guy like Erasmus James, who was we thought their best, you can target him,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We did all kind of stuff to drive him nuts all day, but if you’ve got two of them there, there are just less options to take care of them every play.”
That’s what Georgia hopes to have in 2006, a dominant defensive end on each side of the line that will make life miserable for offensive coaches.
Senior Quentin Moses has established himself on one side. A first-team All-SEC selection last year, he’s on several preseason All-America lists this year and realistically could move to No. 2 on Georgia’s all-time sacks list with a big year this season. To the Bulldogs’ delight, Hawkinsville’s Charles Johnson seems to be developing into a similar player at the opposite defensive end spot.
“Quentin certainly has proven he’s one of the better players in the league and country,” Richt said. “Charles Johnson is rapidly proving he can be named in that group.”
That could be a boon for Georgia’s defense.
“You don’t want all the attention on (Moses) because I don’t think he’d do that good,” said Johnson, who had 23 tackles and four sacks last year. “The whole defensive line needs to do good.”
Standout defensive ends are particularly bothersome to offensive coordinators, Richt said, because they have to be accounted for if any pass play is going to work. With a disruptive player on both ends of the line, offenses often are forced to leave both running backs in the backfield to double team the ends or at least delay the pass pattern those running backs would have run.
“People can still take both of them away, it’s just one more player they’ve got to use, one more tight end, one more running back, who’s now no longer hurting the rest of our defense,” defensive ends coach Jon Fabris said. “It’s now one less receiver that we’ve got to cover. It may not sound like a lot, but if people are only running two-man routes, then we’re double-covering all their people.”
Georgia had a similarly scary one-two punch in its nickel package in 2005, with defensive end David Pollack on one end and safety Thomas Davis playing essentially at outside linebacker on the other.
“We noticed then that people would pick their poison,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “Like we tell our players all the time, the better we can be, especially on opposite ends, it makes it difficult for offenses to scheme against you.”