Is it too early to start worrying about Georgia’s run defense?

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The Bulldogs opened up spring practice Saturday to snow flurries and 40-degree temperatures. But it’s good to get back on the field and get some updates from actual football practice.

Overall, Mark Richt was pleased with the chilly practice, the tempo and the energy from his guys on the first day, via the Athens Banner-Herald.

“That was interesting, spring ball,” coach Mark Richt said following the practice after first asking if a cup of hot chocolate was ready for him. “We had a really good day, I thought. Very high energy, but my guess is it had to do with trying to stay warm. … We skipped all the breaks and just kept going. Nobody wanted to stand still.”

However, Richt already notices a difference in the teeth of his defensive line. And how could he not? John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers left 713 vacant pounds at nose tackle.

“We are definitely not as big up front, but we’re pretty quick and athletic,” Richt said. “It will be interesting to see how we’ll hold up against a smash-mouth team as the season goes on. We certainly have some guys that can really run.”

Chris Mayes, John Taylor and John Atkins are bulky players at the position, but they all have less girth and are trimmer than Jenkins and Geathers. Using ‘interesting’ to describe the lack of size at nose tackle isn’t exactly comforting from Richt himself.

Georgia’s defense didn’t perform as expected as a unit in 2012, giving up an average of over 182 yards per game on the ground and finishing 12th in the SEC. And it was the run defense that gave up 350 yards rushing, not the failed five-yard attempt, that ultimately cost the Bulldogs a conference crown and a date with Notre Dame.

Gazing into the crystal ball and looking ahead on the schedule, there are three smash mouth teams Richt is referring to in South Carolina, LSU and Florida, and Alabama still looms for another possible date and rematch in Atlanta.

Other practice tidbits:

  • Josh Harvey-Clemons practiced with the defensive backs as well as at safety. But one important note about JHC is his lack of weight gain. However, Richt has made it known he feels comfortable playing JHC at linebacker because he has some pop in his hits.
  • Early Enrollee Tray Matthews and JHC lined up with the first team at safety.
  • WR Michael Bennett, who tore his ACL in 2012, was running around on the sideline, as was Keith Marshall (hamstring).

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • Yes it’s much much too early. C’mon guys it was the first day of spring practice! It’s march for crying out loud! This is the first practice for many of the guys haha. I can’t wait to see Jordan Jenkins this year…

  • You serious? Of course it’s too early. It’s March for god’s sake, most teams haven’t even started spring practice. Anyways, I’m no expert and certainly don’t know what exactly our problem was in the run game but am optimistic it turns around next year and here’s why. Injuries, academic eligibility, and transfers absolutely wiped out our depth up front a year ago. Derrick Lott transferred before spring practice ended. Sterling Bailey has been injured since even before he stepped foot on campus and he’s been working to get bigger since he grew out of his old OLB spot. Chris Mayes didn’t qualify academically from the 2011 class. John Atkins didn’t qualify academically from the 2012 class and Abry Jones’ season ended on a foot injury that required surgery at Kentucky, a week before the Florida. Not to mention John Jenkins said he played the Alabama game at 370 pounds. I’m sure you can imagine a 370 pound nose tackle is going to wear down rather quickly if he has to play a lot and he did. That’s five defensive linemen that were missing for either the whole or second half of the season. In my opinion it’s easy to see why we got pushed around so much. We got tired and had no one to replace them with. If we get and stay healthy next season. We’ll be a quality three deep at end and two or three deep at nose (with some rotating at different positions during games). That’s a huge turnaround from a numbers standpoint. We basically had four guys that played the entire Alabama game up front. You have to give Alabama credit, their runners ran very well, and they blocked very well. But depth, was our main issue on the defensive line in my opinion.

  • It is never to early to worry about the Dawg’s D. Just because they came within seconds of actually living up to the hype for once doesn’t mean they don’t have a shot at falling flat on their faces again this year.