Georgia's defense has to toughen up

To say that there’s some frustration on Georgia’s defense is quite the understatement.

Senior safety Shawn Williams made that abundantly clear while speaking with the media Monday night when he called the play of the defense “soft.”

“We’re playing too soft as a defense,” Williams said. “That goes for the D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties, everybody. We’re just not playing with the same attitude we were last year. I don’t know what it is.”

In Georgia's 29-24 win over Kentucky on Saturday, the Bulldogs surrendered 206 yards rushing yards and allowed two scoring drives of 75 yards or more. However, Georgia surrendered just 329 total yards of offense, the second-lowest total by an offense this season against Georgia.

Senior linebacker Christian Robinson told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he agreed Georgia’s defense has to be more physical, but he also said the defense has to stay together, not take shots.

“I’m sticking to what I’ve been taught since I’ve been growing up -- everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger,” Robinson said. “At this point, we’re a team and we have to stick together, and as a team, I’m not going to call anybody out. We’re just going to try and fix the issues that we have.

“Yes, we need to be more physical -- that’s anytime you play any opponent. We always have room to improve.”

Williams also suggested on Monday that certain players should see the field more than others.

“Personally, if I was the coaches, I can’t tell them what to do, but I’d have Amarlo Herrera in the game more,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t bring him out. ... I want to see Amarlo and [Alec] Ogletree in the game at linebacker; I don’t want to see anybody else at linebacker. I feel like they’re two guys that are going to go out and give you all they got, no matter if they mess up or do right. I feel like they’re going to get to the ball and tackle. That’s what we need.”

Herrera and Ogletree both start inside for the Bulldogs. Herrera registered three tackles Saturday and is second behind only Williams in tackles this season with 50. Williams has 51. Ogletree finished Saturday’s game with a team-high 11 tackles and has 33 total tackles on the year.

It's probably not a good thing that the defensive captain is calling players out like that. Is he wrong in his assessment? Maybe not, but this isn't the time to create any sort of rift within a unit, especially one that has struggled to this point. And definitely not before such an important game like this weekend's bout with No. 2 Florida.

“I know the coaches put the players on the field that they think can get the job done, and until that changes, we’re going to continue to play the guys we have and put our best foot out there to beat teams,” said Robinson, who was left off of Williams' list of players who should play more.

Clearly, this defense hasn't been as good as it was last year, even with basically the same lineup. Brandon Boykin is gone, but the issues we’ve seen can’t be placed on one player being out of the lineup.

Georgia is ninth in the SEC in total defense (367.4 yards per game) and is giving up nearly 170 rushing yards a contest. Last year, the Bulldogs surrendered more than 360 yards of offense four times. This year, that’s happened three times already.

Mark Richt said last week that communication issues in the secondary have helped generate big plays for opposing offenses. That happens when the core of your secondary misses multiple games. But it's halfway through the season. Communication issues should be almost nonexistent, and so should the big plays.

“Once you do close that loophole of a big play, then you have a chance to really play some good defense,” Richt said.