Good News/Bad News: UGA Boots Harvey-Clemons
By Dan Mathews
Citing the broad “violation of team rules,” Georgia kicked safety Josh Harvey-Clemons off the football team Tuesday.
The rising junior had been suspended twice within the 2013-14 season and was slated to sit out the first three games this fall for drug-related violations.
Let’s start with the bad news about the strong safety no longer being in the fold for the Bulldogs. This is still a secondary that will feature three rising sophomores from last season. It's a young group that last year was snake-bitten on third downs. Plus, the defense used Harvey-Clemons in the box at times at the “star” position. Even though he missed two games last season, Harvey-Clemons was third on the team with 66 total tackles and was sixth on the team in tackles for a loss with five and a half.
The Bulldogs likely will look to rising senior Corey Moore to try and replace the production they got from Harvey-Clemons. Keep in mind there’s a new a defensive coordinator with Jeremy Pruitt coming in from Florida State and Todd Grantham heading to Louisville. At his introductory press conference, Pruitt said the Bulldogs will play a 3-4 base defense, yet they will use multiple formations. Pruitt is going to coach the secondary and could put his safeties in position to make plays in the box like Harvey-Clemons was asked to do last season.
As my friend Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald pointed out in his column, it could be interesting to see what’s to come of redshirt freshman Tramel Terry. He got reps at safety during practices last December in preparation for the Gator Bowl against Nebraska. Terry was recruited to be a wide receiver and last year was recovering from a torn ACL that caused him to miss the season. It will be interesting to see if Pruitt wants to continue the Terry project at safety when spring practices start in mid-March.
The other point to look at would be to see if the Bulldogs want to move rising sophomore Tray Matthews over to the strong safety spot. Matthews has the size at 6-foot, 196 pounds and did play in eight games in 2013, starting six at free safety.
The 'Dawgs do have the luxury of dealing with this dismissal about a month before spring practice. As I’ve pointed out, they have options at that strong safety spot. Even with Harvey-Clemons getting kicked off the team, Georgia will have nine starters returning.
This was a defense that at times showed flashes of brilliance in 2013. However, I do keep bringing up third downs. The defense gave up scores or first downs about 40 percent of the time on that money down, a figure that Pruitt will have to improve with a retooled secondary.