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The Difficult Challenge Georgia’s Defense Presents for Joey Gatewood

Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said that Terry Wilson did not practice on Monday and Tuesday. We’ve since learned that Wilson suffered a hand injury against Missouri. Saturday’s starting quarterback has not been named at the time this post was submitted to the KSR editorial staff. With that said, Saturday’s matchup vs. the Georgia Bulldogs could be Joey Gatewood’s first start. If that is the case, Gatewood will be staring down one of the best defenses in college football. 

This Georgia defense is downright nasty. Long, fast, athletic, aggressive and extremely well coached, the Dawg D is experienced and presents an overabundance of challenges for the most experienced quarterbacks. A first time starter will be confronted with a heavy blitz unit that rotates future pros with future pros. 

Pre-snap communication will be critical. The UGA defensive line often shifts prior to the snap, which can throw off blocking schemes and the confuse the offense’s ability to identify the Mike linebacker. Senior center Drake Jackson will be Gatewood’s go-to helper in recognizing Georgia’s pre and post-shift identity. Jackson is the SEC’s top center and will be an instrumental asset for the Wildcat quarterback. 

Kirby Smart leans on an aggressive game plan. For example, Georgia blitzed a cornerback on multiple occasions against Alabama, especially when the ball was placed on the hash. This particular blitz is something that the quarterback must be aware of since the onrushing CB is an unlockable defender. Middle linebacker blitzes along with its outside counterparts bring pressure on first through third down. The Cats, or Joey Gatewood in particular, must avoid early down negative plays. Third and 8+ yards will not be a friendly scenario for the Wildcat offense.

UK Athletics

Safeties are normally a key that a quarterback can read to determine coverage, blitzes, and so forth. Georgia will sport the best safety combination that UK has seen in 2020. All-SEC strong safety Richard LeCounte is dynamic in the run, pass, and at times pass rush. He currently leads the nation in interceptions. LeCounte is joined by free safety Lewis Cine. Cine is a hard hitting, aggressive defensive back. Pre-snap safety recognition will be a point of emphasis for Gatewood. 

Georgia’s linebacker rotation has combined for over 30 quarterback hurries. The Dawgs rank second in the SEC with 13 QB sacks. Jack linebacker Azeez Ojulari is a disruptive force and has registered 6 tackles for loss, 3 QB sacks, and 13 QB hurries. Nakobi Dean adds another 7 QB hurries. Dawg linebackers frequently get after the quarterback and rapidly come down hill vs. the run. Gatewood will need to account for a varied defensive scheme on all three levels. 

What does all this mean? Georgia is a tough assignment for a first time starting quarterback. Heck, Georgia is a tough draw for an experienced quarterback. The Dawg D ranks first in the SEC in Scoring and Rush defense. It’s second in total defense and has given up the least number of long scrimmage and rush plays. In other words, it’s elite. The Wildcats will need to dial up early, high percentage completions in order for Gatewood to gain confidence. Due to the personnel construction and scheme of the Georgia defense, there will be negative or lost yardage plays. Composure normally comes with experience. The Wildcat’s new starter must have a short memory. 

The Georgia defense has the best defensive line, linebackers and secondary that UK has faced in 2020. Joey Gatewood will not be afforded the luxury of playing against a sure-win opponent in his first start. RPO reads will be hasty. Passing lanes will be reduced. There’s no way around it, this is an arduous matchup, however, it can also be considered a tremendous opportunity for Joey Gatewood. 

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

14 Comments for The Difficult Challenge Georgia’s Defense Presents for Joey Gatewood

  1. cats646
    12:10 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

    It’s happened to us many times. So let’s switch it up and beat the dawgs while our backup QB looks like a hero! GO CATS!!

  2. BowdenQB4ever
    12:18 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

    This season is Terry’s baby, he should start against the best defense in the country. It would be just like stoops to roll Joey out there without having him prepared, watch him fall on his face, and conclude that Terry really is the answer. I think Terry will have a good game, but never put us in position to win. Say 150 yds passing, 2 TD 1 INT and 65~ rush yards in a 38-17 loss that was never really that close.

    • Bluehender
      12:36 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

      Too much emphasis on the QB being at fault for everything. It’s a team game. Everyone has to be responsible for their part. Not just Terry..yes he’s made mistakes, but so have receivers, blockers, play callers and on and on. It takes a total team effort to be successful. When you say this season is Terry’s baby, I disagree

    • Bluehender
      1:03 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

      I would add that hopefully they’ll have, not only Joey prepared, but everyone else too. They didn’t have them prepared last week..

    • tdub
      10:09 am October 30, 2020 Permalink

      Blue, I agree

    • east-ky-boy
      2:18 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

      Wilson has been inconsistent since he’s been here. He’s a turnover waiting to happen, he misses reads, he’s definitely not out best downfield passer (probably worst on the team). He is however very athletic and a great kid. When we have a great playmaker like Benny or Bowden, he can just manage the game. But now, we have to ask him to actually be a playmaker. And we all know he’s not. Trust me, I wish he was. I’m cheering for him and hope he proves me wrong. The record he has as a starting QB is deceiving. It was our defense and running game and line that won those games. Mike hartline woulda won those games! We need a playmaker at QB this year that can hit small windows and don’t turn the ball over. I hope we have one. That’s yet to be seen.

    • Bluehender
      3:09 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

      I sure don’t disagree with you eastkyboy

  3. blueballs80
    12:54 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

    Bama rolled that Georgia D and Mac Jones had a heck of a game against them. We will get our asses handed if we cannot throw the ball.

    • Bluehender
      6:31 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

      Alabama has 5 star players at every position, 3 & 4 deep. We have better players than we’ve ever had, but we don’t have Alabama talent. Very few teams do.

    • WKY Cat
      4:32 pm October 30, 2020 Permalink

      And bluehender just showed his ignorance. You do realize AL usually has 10-12 five star players on each team. So with your math AL has at least 66 five stars. Lol!!! There’s just not many five stars in each recruiting class.
      I do agree we have better talent but not close to AL.

  4. jaws2
    2:03 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

    This ^^^^

  5. east-ky-boy
    2:21 pm October 29, 2020 Permalink

    With Wilson in, we run basically 4 plays. Handoff, QB designed run, wildcat and screen pass. Teams are now stopping what we do. We HAVE to keep the defense honest. Have too!!!!! We don’t have Benny or Bowden to bail us out. I hope Joey or Allen can do this.

  6. millertim
    10:09 am October 30, 2020 Permalink

    PLEASE O-LINE give Gatewood TIME to read his progressions and identify your assignments and execute. Most of you have at least 3 years of experience and shouldn’t rely on Coach Schlarman to read and motivate you!! TAKE CHARGE O-LINE!!

  7. BigBluSoTru
    5:32 pm October 30, 2020 Permalink

    Line has dropped to 9.5 Vegas sensing something BBN . I think we are going to do it J-Gate is the real deal GA will have problems with his dual abilities Kirby said he is much better than Cam was at this stage.