In fact, Jones said he was hoping to issue his own reminder to Dan LeFevour that Georgia’s secondary was no place for the Chippewas’ quarterback.
But when the dust settled on Georgia’s impressive 56-17 win Saturday, that message had never been delivered.
“We never really got to him like I was hoping we would,” head coach Mark Richt said. “I was hoping we would really disrupt his game, but we never really hit him enough and pressured him enough. He seemed to be in total control the whole game.”
Georgia’s pass rush earned just one sack in the game, and that came from linebacker Rennie Curran.
LeFevour threw for 250 yards against the Bulldogs, including two touchdowns. The junior quarterback burned Georgia’s secondary on several occasions, but the defensive backs didn’t get much help from the pass rush up front.
Georgia was without defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who injured his knee against Georgia Southern a week earlier and will miss the remainder of the season.
Owens sent texts to his teammates before the game, defensive end Jarius Wynn said, encouraging them and letting them know he would be rooting for them.
Corvey Irvin, who replaced Owens in the starting lineup, even wore Owens’ uniform number for the game.
And for the most part, the defensive line did enough to make Owens proud – allowing just 59 yards on the ground to the Chippewas.
The pass rush, however, left a bit to be desired, particularly on the ends.
“We were disappointed in the pass rush from the outside,” Richt said. “We had a couple times where we had good pressure up the gut and we lost contain. If you don’t get the guy, make him step up in the pocket and make him run into some of the big men up front who are doing well. It was a disappointing day for that. Hopefully we’ll get it going without having to blitz.”
Georgia faced a similar problem early in the season last year, but wound up with one of the SEC’s top corps of defensive ends by December.
The Bulldogs lost leading tackler Marcus Howard to the NFL, however, and fall camp was filled with injuries to the defensive ends. Only Wynn spent the entire preseason participating in full-contact practices.
Rod Battle and Demarcus Dobbs got the start at the ends Saturday, the first of Dobbs’ career. He made the most of his opportunity, intercepting a deflected LeFevour pass and taking it 78 yards for a touchdown to give Georgia a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
“We are taught to run to the ball,” Dobbs said. “I ran to the ball, caught it, and I saw green. I was fortunate enough to score a touchdown.”
The big lead for Georgia forced LeFevour to throw the ball more, and the Chippewas managed to drive into Georgia territory on five consecutive drives, while LeFevour picked apart the defense from the comfort of the pocket.
Central Michigan’s offensive line used extensive cut blocks to maximize their protection, which Richt said had a lot to do with the minimal pressure Georgia was able to attain.
“You’ve got to keep your feet away from that cut,” Richt said. “But it’s hard to do that and be super aggressive on your pass rush at the same time. I don’t know if everybody wants to admit it, but I’m sure that has a little bit to do with the lack of pressure or at least the lack of sacks.”
On further review of the film Sunday, Richt said the pass rush looked a bit better than it did during the game. The opposition from here only gets tougher, however, and Richt said the defensive line will have to improve as Georgia heads into SEC play.
“We did knock (LeFevour) down a little more than I thought, we harassed him a little more than I thought,” Richt said, “but I still don’t think we totally took him out of his rhythm.”
EXTRA POINTS: Richt said wide receiver Kenneth Harris and defensive tackle Kade Weston were both likely to play this week against South Carolina. Richt said neither was likely to be at full speed for today’s practice, but both were making good progress… Despite a few big plays by Central Michigan, Richt said he was comfortable with the current crop of players in Georgia’s secondary. That could mean redshirts for the defensive backs who have yet to play, including Baccari Rambo and Nick Williams… Knowshon Moreno’s highlight reel hurdle of a Central Michigan defender was all the talk after the game, only it didn’t make ESPN’s highlights on “SportsCenter” that night. Richt said he couldn’t understand the error, blaming the network for overlooking the play. An ESPN reporter then informed Richt FOX, who controlled the rights to the game, neglected to send them the clip after the game, which caused a FOX reporter to jump to his network’s defense. Richt’s response after hearing both sides: “I guess they’re both under the bus, then.”