Georgia Defense: Absolutely Loaded

“Offense sells tickets.  Defense wins championships.”  With the return of 10 starters from a top 5 defense last year, the 2012 edition of the Junkyard Dawgs has a chance to lead this team to a championship.  If they can survive early season suspensions in the secondary, this defense has the opportunity to set the standard for defenses to follow in their footsteps.

Defensive Line (Outlook – Positive)

The Georgia defensive line anchored by John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers at nose tackle is deep and talented.  These two cause headaches for opposing offensive line coaches due to their size (340+ pounds each) and their athleticism (both can rush the passer).  They can stay in the game against spread teams and are space eaters against power running teams.  Senior Abry Jones is one of the unsung leaders of this team at one defensive end spot with Cornelius Washington likely to man the other end spot to rush the passer.  Garrison Smith, who starred in the Tech game last year in place of the injured DeAngelo Tyson, and Ray Drew (the Pastor of Disaster) give the front three a two-deep depth chart that can compete with anyone.  The nightmare scenario is that one of the two nose tackles gets injured for an extended period and we have trouble defending between the tackles as we did in 2010.

Linebackers (Outlook – Off the Charts Positive)

While All-American and Butkus Award finalist Jarvis Jones deservedly gets most of the ink for the Bulldog linebacking corps, Alec Ogletree may be the best athlete of the bunch.  His ferocious hitting and ability to line up all over the field remind me of a young Thomas Davis.  Grantham will put him inside and outside depending on down and distance and allow him to roam the field to make plays.  With Jones, Mike Gilliard, and Ramik Wilson on the field with Christian Robinson and Amarlo Herrera playing a lot and future star Jordan Jenkins ready to contribute, this group of linebackers has a combination of size and speed that should be able to set the edge and control teams’ ability to run the ball with any consistency.  The big question is how long will we wait to see Ogletree on the field (Missouri or FAU).

Secondary (Outlook – Neutral Early, Positive Late)

The Georgia secondary early in the season has to be the other unknown of this team along with the offensive line and the kicking specialists.  Due to the known suspension of Sanders Commings and the expected suspension of All-American Bacarri Rambo, this unit will have its collective hands full in Columbia, Missouri on September 8 with Mizzou’s spread offense.  If Malcolm Mitchell performs as expected, this secondary will have three lockdown corners in Branden Smith, Commings, and Mitchell when the defense is back to full strength.  Don’t forget Dream Teamers Damian Swann and Devin Bowman who both will play early and often this fall.  At safety, Rambo gets the publicity for his name and his knack of making big plays, but Shawn Williams is an absolute stud as his running mate.  Depth is solid at the safety position as well with Dream Teamer Corey Moore and super-recruit Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Coaching (Outlook – Positive)

Two years ago, many people (including me) had little idea who Todd Grantham was and whether he was the right choice as the defensive coordinator to replace The Defensive Coordinator Who Must Not Be Named.  Now, many in the Bulldog Nation have anointed him as HCIW.  Grantham has brought an edge to Georgia defensively that hasn’t been seen since a certain man’s bald head bled on the Sanford Stadium sod.  He has proven to be a coach that has been willing to learn how to scheme against college offenses, is a relentless recruiter, and seems to enjoy interacting with the Bulldog faithful.  His defensive staff of Garner, Olivadotti, and Lakatos has a great mix of recruiters, NFL experience, and X-and-O guys.

Overall (Outlook – Extremely Positive)

This defense has the makings to become the best in the modern era of Georgia football.  I know that sounds like a delusional Georgia fan, but this defense doesn’t have a noticeable weakness to be exploited unless the injury bug decimates us.  The only unknown is the impact of early season suspensions on the secondary against Missouri.  If Georgia escapes Columbia with a win, this defense could make the 2012 season one for the ages.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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9 Responses to Georgia Defense: Absolutely Loaded

  1. Dawg19 says:

    Nice job. I’m really interested to see if Cornelius Washington can become a superstar. He has shown flashes but always seem to suffer a letdown after a big game.

    • eethomaswfnc says:

      Good point. Washington played lights out against Miss State last year and then got the DUI that night and missed 2 games. I think he’s going to be better with his hand in the dirt rather than as a stand-up OLB.

  2. bulldawg20 says:

    I do not believe our pass defense is that good, and reviewing your comments, it is the weakest link according to you, too. Stealing our leading wide receiver in yards per game to fill the voids of seniors who stuck around for solidarity, adds to the questions about the team 2012 – that, and of course, our challenges are not on defense but on every other part of our game offense and special teams, culminating with our schedule of 1 game against the AP Poll Top 10 SEC teams of which there are 5, us having not beat a team who made the Top 10 after # 9 Auburn in 2006.

    • eethomaswfnc says:

      Bulldawg20, I’m not sure I fully agree with your comment. I do believe that our secondary is the weakest part of our defense, but it’s still pretty darn good. The early deficiencies in the secondary caused by suspensions (Commings for 2, Rambo unknown) were the reason Mitchell moved to CB. If we weren’t in a good situation at WR, I don’t think the staff would have considered the move. Also, I would have liked to have seen Damian Swann be given a shot early at the position rather than Mitchell. Finally, I think a strong front 7 that can get pressure and control the running game without committing safeties can cover for deficiencies in the back end. Regarding your comment on the schedule, I’m not sure I get your point, but I think you’re already saying that our success this year will be due to the schedule and not our team. While the schedule is favorable, we will still have to beat either Bama or LSU to win the SEC. At that point, the schedule gripe goes away.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. bulldawg20 says:

    You’re welcome.
    And, if we do not beat LSU or Alabama ?
    What we’ve witnessed is not pretty against the top teams, especially late in games, and most especially against the top teams, and particularly our secondary, offense and special teams.

    If our objective is 13-1 as I say for this 2012 season, and South Carolina has games against Georgia, Arkansas, Clemson and LSU while we face only them, who have we beat if we lose to LSU or Alabama, again ? Yes, I am clearly pointing out our objectives are to beat the top teams as Top 10 Football Program in 1-A Wins. Merely getting there with this favorable schedule of 1 game against The 5 SEC teams in the AP Poll Top 10, and then losing 10-42 watching our secondary burned deep, our offense fail, and our special teams un-coached, is not my idea of a Successful 2012, while we run up our record against 11 teams averaging 4.8 wins only.

    A successful 2012, after which we lose the entire defense, requires that we beat top teams, and until we get to an LSU or Alabama and perhaps depending upon that result, our bowl game, there cannot possibly be a top team on our schedule 2012. In 11 years to-date, we’ve not beat a single team making the Top 10 of any poll in a bowl game yet. Given the status of 2013, with Alabama on the schedule and our entire defense gone, it boils down in my mind to either do or do not beat Alabama or LSU. I don’t really see you saying any different. We must beat Alabama or LSU to have a successful 2012. Missouri plays Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. South Carolina plays Georgia, Clemson, Arkansas and LSU. We play South Carolina, and like I say with 4 games against the top teams 2012, South Carolina cannot possibly be expected to be great. Now, can they ? Who does that leave us with 2012, except LSU or Alabama ?

    • eethomaswfnc says:

      Well thought out comment. I do think this team especially on defense can play with anybody. We are going to be hit hard by graduation and early entries on the defensive side of the ball this winter. Can this team win a SEC championship? Absolutely yes. Should we take advantage of the set-up of the schedule with our talent and win the East? I think so although I’m concerned about the trips to the Columbias for different reasons. I guess we’ll find out starting in about 12 days.

    • Cal Snow says:

      heay debie downer give it a rest

  4. Rob says:

    I think this secondary is going to surprise a lot of people. We have a great mix of size and speed at corner with some great hitting ability all over the field. What makes me most excited about this secondary is actually the DEs and LBs. Now that sounds strange but hear me out. We have some of the best pass rushers in the country returning and with Grantham throwing in some new blitz wrinkles there won’t be much time to throw the football. This leads to rushed reads and throws. Now just think about this situation. QB lofts ball up bc of jarvis applying presuure for receiver to catch this receiver is guarded by Mitchell(aka another receiver) it turns these jump balls that go usually in favor of the WR into a 50/50 ball. I just feel that the sacks and pressure early in season will give secondary chance to get confident after making a few good plays and then watch out!

    • eethomaswfnc says:

      Rob, good comments. I love this front 7 because we have guys across the entire front 7 who can run sideline to sideline and rush the passer. I’m cautious about the secondary early in the season purely based on personnel availability. I do think there’s talent back there. Thanks for commenting.

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