Football.com - everything football

Bulldogs Defense To Avoid Regression

By



Don't let the loss of 2012 defensive standouts like Jarvis Jones, right, trick you into assuming the Georgia defense will regress this season. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
Don't let the loss of 2012 defensive standouts like Jarvis Jones, right, trick you into assuming the Georgia defense will regress this season. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

The Georgia Bulldogs lost 12 players who started at least one game on defense last year.   For most programs, that's enough push the team into a rebuilding mode.   

Gone are Jarvis Jones, John Jenkins, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, among others.   However, the Bulldogs are reloading this year. Multiple players are ready to step into starting roles.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 2012 DEFENSE

We've seen the big names from Georgia's defense in 2012. However, the defense wasn't as good as one might expect.   

Georgia ranked 80th in rush defense last year, allowing 177.8 yards per game. The Bulldogs allowed 1,189 rushing yards in their last four games, including 350 to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. They held their own against the pass, but it's fair to use the term "struggle" to asses their rush defense.  

That's not a good thing in the SEC.

NFL TALENT FROM 2012

Seven players from the 2012 Bulldogs' defense got drafted.

Name Position Round Pick Overall Team
Jarvis Jones OLB First 17th Pittsburgh Steelers
Alec Ogletree ILB First 30th St. Louis Rams
John Jenkins DT Third 82nd New Orleans Saints
Shawn Williams S Third 84th Cincinnati Bengals
Sanders Commings CB Fifth 134th Kansas City Chiefs
Cornelius Washington DE Sixth 188th Chicago Bears
Bacarri Rambo S Sixth 191st Washington Redskins

The Bulldogs also had a few who teams picked up as undrafted free agents.

  • DT Abry Jones: Jacksonville Jaguars
  • NT Kwame Geathers: San Diego Chargers
  • MLB Michael Gilliard: St. Louis Rams
  • DT Garrett Gilliard: St. Louis Rams
  • LB Christian Robinson: St. Louis Rams
  • CB Brandon Smith: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

That's 13 players from last year's defense, with 12 of them getting significant playing time.

A LOT STILL THERE

When Georgia fans look at the new depth chart, they’ll see many names they don’t recognize. But don’t doubt the talent because of the lack of name recognition.   

As starting defensive end Ray Drew said, don’t sleep on this year’s defense because you don’t know their names.   “We’re coming in with the mindset to do what we’ve been coached to do,” Drew said. “A lot of people outside of the program see the people that we lost, but they don’t see what’s behind those people. You have people that prepared and did the exact same thing every day that Jarvis Jones did or Kwame Geathers or John Jenkins. But their name wasn’t in the light because they were behind such great players.”   

Drew came to Athens as a five-star player, as did Josh Harvey-Clemons. Both got a taste of action last year, but will play bigger roles this year.  

The biggest key will be at linebacker, where the Bulldogs are losing two players that were first-round draft prospects. Jordan Jenkins and Amarlo Herrera may not be star players, but they are guys who can take care of their jobs at a high level.  

And if there’s one more advantage the Bulldogs have (thus far), it's that none of the team leaders have been arrested or suspended for drug use. Last year, Ogletree and Rambo were among four players who missed significant game action due to suspensions. If the 2013 leaders can avoid those suspensions, they’ll already have a leg up on the 2012 group.

THE SECONDARY

If there’s one area that remains a strength for the Bulldogs, it will be their secondary.  

Damian Swann returns to man one side at corner, while Harvey-Clemons and freshman Tray Matthews will hold down the safety positions.  

Head coach Mark Richt said Harvey-Clemons will be used in nickel situations as a hybrid linebacker, adding that he has a lot of confidence in Harvey-Clemons' ability to rush the passer.  

“It’s perfect for him,” Richt said. “I think he’s liking safety right now. It makes sense when we’re in base. But when we spread into three-receiver sets, we really want him to learn to play that nickel.”  

Fans have a lot to look forward to with this year’s defense. The names might not be as sexy, but they could do a better job.