Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari (13) sacks Murray State Racers quarterback Preston Rice (5) during the first half of today's Georgia vs Murray State football game at Sanford Stadium. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/robert.andres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/robert.andres@ajc.com

Georgia’s defensive front gives reason to smile

On Saturday though, his grin was ear to ear. 

After looking for the right words to explain the Georgia linebacker’s jubilance, Ojulari kept it simple.

“It just feels great, man,” Ojulari said.

That feeling was the result of the domination by Georgia’s defensive front seven in its 63-17 win over Murray State. Six sacks, 11 tackles for a loss and a bunch of havoc were recorded for Georgia’s defense, much of that came from upfront. Seven UGA players recorded at least half a sack.

As Ojulari put it,the defense was hunting.

“We came to hunt and get those sacks,” Ojulari said. “That’s our thing. Every week, try to keep pressuring them and get that number up.”

Going into the game, aggression at the line of scrimmage and backfield disruption was a focus for Georgia. Safe to say, head coach Kirby Smart succeeded in his message.

“The game plan was to come in and play these guys a little different than some of the teams we played like them in the past,” Smart said. “To try to be aggressive and try to cover them and get up on them. ...  I thought our front was disruptive and controlled the run game.”

Controlled the run game was a bit of an understatement. On 27 carries, the Racers were only able to muster 23 yards on the ground, an average of 0.9 yards per carry. Even then, Smart was characteristically unimpressed. 

“I mean, obviously those guys are outmanned up front,” Smart said about the Murray State offensive line. “They don't have the same caliber of guys to protect that other teams we’ll play.”

Still, Ojulari sees this as a big step forward for Georgia’s defense. Sure, the Bulldogs will face much tougher opponents down the line, but a game like this helps before they have to face those better teams.

“I think it does [help] actually,” Ojulari said. “Last week we didn’t get that many [tackles for a loss], but this week I think it just builds momentum as we go on with the season.”

While the performance may have received only faint praise from Smart, safety J.R. Reed, couldn’t have been more excited by the group’s performance.

“I love it,” Reed said following the win. “When they get sacks and they get back to the quarterback, man, it makes my job so much easier.”

Reed took his pleasure with the front line a step further than compliments. 

 “If those guys can keep it up,” Reed said. “I might buy them a steak dinner.” 

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