Commentary

Rambo draws QBs' blood

Notebook: Georgia safety already has four interceptions through just three games

Updated: September 26, 2011, 1:08 AM ET
By David Ching | DawgNation

ATHENS, Ga. -- Of course it's still early, but Bacarri Rambo is on a record pace when it comes to intercepting passes.

Georgia's junior safety picked off two passes in Saturday's 27-13 win against Ole Miss, giving him an interception in three consecutive games and four overall.

That total is tied for most in the nation, surpasses his team-leading three interceptions last year and puts him on pace to beat Tony Taylor's seven in 2006 -- the greatest single-season interception total in coach Mark Richt's 10-plus seasons at Georgia.

[+] EnlargeBacarri Rambo
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesBacarri Rambo says his interceptions have been a result of solid play by his teammates.
And Rambo has done all that despite sitting out the opener against Boise State on a one-game suspension.

"He kept his focus even though he wasn't going to play in Game 1 and wanted to make up for some lost ground, and he's done that," Richt said on his Sunday teleconference. He later added, "This game, we had the most pressure on the quarterback that we've had all year, and he ends up with two picks because of it. It's a team effort, but you've still got to make the play when it's there."

Rambo, however, didn't want to discuss after the game how he's on pace to threaten Terry Hoage's 1982 school record of 12 interceptions or to become the first Bulldog with at least 10 since Ben Smith in 1989.

"It's not about me, man," Rambo said. "Our defense played hands-down great tonight. They forced bad balls, and I was just there to catch them. Other guys were there to catch them, but I was just hungry to get the ball. The other guys played great coverage. The quarterback was confused. He don't know what coverage we were in, and I was just trying to make plays."

Rambo made one of the Bulldogs' key defensive plays in the first half against Ole Miss, intercepting a Randall Mackey pass at the Georgia 21-yard line and returning it to the Bulldogs' 47. The play came after Ole Miss scored its only offensive touchdown in the second quarter and recovered the ensuing onside kick, threatening to carve into Georgia's 17-7 lead.

The Bulldogs defense prevented that from happening, forcing the Rebels into six three-and-outs and limiting them to 183 yards of total offense. And Georgia did it without starting linebackers Christian Robinson and Alec Ogletree.

"It's just a great feeling knowing that we've got the players to be the best, and we just continue to get better and better every week," Rambo said. "It's going to be a scary sight when everybody gets back on the team and everybody's healthy, and we continue to get better and better every week. Just wait till the end of the season, how we might look."

Linebacker shuffle continues

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham continued shuffling linebacker combinations Saturday, starting a fourth different foursome in four games.

The starters against Ole Miss were Mike Gilliard and true freshman Amarlo Herrera in the middle, and Jarvis Jones and Chase Vasser outside. This after Robinson, Ogletree, Cornelius Washington and Shawn Williams also earned starts at linebacker in the previous three games.

After leading the team with eight tackles against Coastal Carolina in his first career start, Gilliard again led the Bulldogs with seven stops against Ole Miss. Herrera was second on the team with six tackles, including 1.5 for negative yardage.

Asked afterward about Herrera's rapid improvement, Grantham heaped praise on Gilliard, as well.

"Both those guys, Amarlo and Mike Gilliard. I'm proud of Mike," Grantham said. "Those two guys have done a great job, and they've bought into what we're doing, as well as everyone else, and injuries create depth, so as we move forward, we might be moving guys around even more."

Ogletree is out for at least another game or two, but Richt expressed hope Sunday that Robinson will return to the lineup in some capacity this weekend against Mississippi State.

"Even if Christian plays, I don't know if he's going to be able to practice every practice and be at 100 percent or not," he said.

Richt talks Texas A&M

With the SEC officially welcoming Texas A&M into the league, effective July 1, 2012, a reporter asked Richt for his thoughts on the admission of the league's 13th institution. Like the rest of the college football universe, Georgia's coach remains curious as to how other schools' rumored movement between conferences might affect the sport.

"If they're joining us, you'd think there'd be at least another one joining somewhere along the way. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out at the end," Richt said. "Life is changing as we know it around college football. It's happened before. I don't know, this may be a massive movement across the country. I don't know exactly how it's all going to end up."

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley recently expressed concern about how changes in the SEC could impact traditional out-of-division SEC rivalries such as Tennessee-Alabama. Richt said he hadn't given those possibilities much thought while trying to climb out of the Bulldogs 0-2 hole to start the season.

"All this time, I wasn't really thinking it was going to be real, and also I've been just busy trying to get first downs and touchdowns, things like that," Richt said. "It certainly could make a big effect on those types of things. I'm kind of the guy that says, 'Hey, just tell me who we're going to play and let's go play 'em.' I try not to worry too much about those things."

Better on third down

Richt said part of his offseason visit with Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith concerned whether Georgia was practicing third-down defensive situations enough after the Bulldogs allowed opponents to convert 42 percent of their third downs last season and ranked 79th in the country.

"I found out we were probably a little short of the time spent in some third-down situations and some red zone situations, so we ramped that up a little bit more," Richt said.

The Bulldogs are now fifth in the nation, allowing opponents to convert 25 percent of the time.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.