Will Georgia’s front 7 prove to be tops in the country?


Every year it seems around late spring to early summer everyone is buzzing about the potential of Georgia’s football team. Year-in and year-out the Bulldogs recruit some of the best talent in the country, but usually all that talent does not pan out and gets lost somewhere on campus.

Particularly speaking about the defense, the Bulldogs have not been the same since Brian VanGorder left after the 2004 season. Georgia was quite physical, and VanGorder’s defenses were smuggling during his time in Athens.

That sense of physicality has not been the same on defense since VanGorder left for the NFL.

But it could be back now.

Todd Grantham, a former NFL coach himself, has this defensive unit primed to be the top unit in the SEC, maybe the country, in 2012. But not only are they very good as a cohesive unit, but Grantham has given this defense an identity: physicality.

We hear a lot about the 3-4 defense and how college has been implementing it more and more. Nick Saban coaches it as well as Grantham.

Georgia’s front seven is as good as, if not better than, anyone in the country, in all of college football.

“The nose tackle and the inside linebackers, those are three guys that are very important. But when you go through it, the nose tackle is probably the single-most important guy [3-4 Defense].

– Joe Collier, Denver Broncos Assistant  (1969-1988)

The single most important factor on any 3-4 defense is the nose tackle. And Georgia has two man-beasts playing that position in John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Both are 350-plus, and both want to eat you as one of their five main meals a day.

Jenkins started to make his presence felt in the Tennessee game, which happened to be his first start of his Georgia career.

Jenkins’ and Geathers’ impact is not exactly quantifiable statistically. While linebacker Jarvis Jones will get the most pub, Jenkins and Geathers will not wow you with big-time numbers. Except for their weight, their numbers are irrelevant. What is relevant for both is the amount of blockers they tie up in the middle. When a running play happens, whether off-tackle or up the middle, Jenkins and Geathers are expected to clog up the middle and take on two blockers, freeing up more linebackers and ends to make plays ideally in the backfield. The two combined for only 42 tackles, but behind them, they helped produce the best linebacker in the country in Jarvis Jones.

Both Jenkins and Geathers will benefit from each other, with Georgia ultimately able to keep each fresh throughout an entire football game.

Alongside Jenkins and Geathers, defensive ends Abry Jones, Cornelius Washington and Garrison Smith will be staples at defensive end. Jones is very much an underappreciated player, and he is back this year. Washington proved to be a force to reckon with last year, as he had 6.0 tackles for loss and was second on the team in sacks with 5.0. Garrison Smith is an interesting player, and this spring and some of last year, he proved to be unstoppable at times. We’ve all seen the flashes, and now it’s time for Smith to develop into the player the Bulldogs recruited him to be.

When you look at this deep defensive line, you see talent and expectation. But combine both – talent and expectation – with the linebacking unit, and this defense can be ferocious.

US Presswire - UGA LB Jarvis Jones

The 3-4 defense is held down by two inside linebackers, flanked by two outside linebackers. We all know about the aforementioned Jarvis Jones. Jones was a consensus All-American last year, leading the SEC with 13.5 sacks during the season from his outside rushing position. He passed on the opportunity on entering the draft early this year, but he knows how good this defense can be and decided to come back. Jones will go on to have another great season.

Along with Jones, seasoned veterans – Michael Gilliard, Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson – will combine with big-time up-and-comers – Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera – to feature a very, very strong linebacking group in the SEC.

Gilliard returns as the Bulldogs third leading tackler from a year ago with 65 total tackles and 2.0 sacks. Ogletree only played in eight games last year, but he was tied for fourth on the team in sacks. The Bulldogs need more production from him this season. He has big-time potential and athletic ability.

This front seven has an opportunity to create more havoc than any other team in the country. This group is fast and physical – they play with an edge, and it all starts with their leader Todd Grantham.

What About The Secondary?

The secondary has the biggest questions entering 2012 simply because of all the suspensions. All-American free safety Bacarri Rambo and corners Sanders Commings and Branden Smith are all suspended for at least the first two games. I know the schedule is weak the first three weeks, but Georgia will need every bit of that easy schedule to escape SEC-newbie Missouri. The coaching staff knows it needs numbers here, and they brought over All-SEC freshman wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (the blazer) to play corner. He did that this spring. He will be a fine corner; however, you most likely lose him on the offensive side of the ball, as he was Georgia’s biggest playmaker at receiver last year. While there are players to plug in for the secondary and there is some depth on this team, it is the biggest question mark simply because of the three dynamic yet suspended players.

After they return, look out. This defense has a chance to be very special.



You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register

  • Easy answer… No, South Carolina’s will.

    • Of course S.Carolina’s will be…./sarcasm

      I think this year is really gonna be the year that after January Im either gonna be a happy Georgia fan or Im gonna be a Georgia fan looking for Bobo’s head. We really have too much talent floating around not to do something nice this season and I dont really think Richt is to blame for our woes. I love what Grantham has done with the defense. They were nasty last year and I expect them to be every bit as nasty this year.

  • I hope so with that weak schedule they have. But you can count on them getting hammered by Steve Spurrier and the Carolina Gamecocks. LOL!!!!!!!!

    • weak schedule lol… you do realize that even last year UGA’s SOS was 2 points better than USCe’s don’t you(http://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/ranking/strength-of-schedule-by-team)? You morons clung onto that SOS argument like nobody’s business last year and I’m sure it’s all we’ll hear this year too. I didn’t hear anyone crying for UGA when they had LSU/Bama/Auburn in ’08, but suddenly it’s an issue… even this year, we have AU & OM while you have LSU & AR– so we both have one good team and one grease fire from the west. Sure LSU is going to be better than AU but we could counter that Southern is better than Wofford so just grow up. You guys won on the field against us last year and if you’d taken care of business against AU with Latty on the field–a team we hosed by 100– you’d have been in ATL so you and your dumb a$$ coach can… have a nice day.

  • I think UGA is the team to beat in the east, with Florida right behind them & SC a distant 3rd. Can’t wait to play ball again this fall!

  • @Jameskeith
    Get off the “weak schedule” blame game for crying out loud!!! Carolina’s schedule was different from UGA’s by ONE TEAM.

    Spurrier sure wasn’t complaining about cross-division games when he was at Florida. In the next few years when UGA has Bama, LSU, Clemson on thier scheule you think you are going to hear USC fans say “Well UGA got the shaft….tough luck”? No, you guys finally have a decent team a few years in a row and suddenly you are demanding an entire conference wide championship change?

    Play by the same rules everyone else has done since 1992 when the SEC went to divisional play and quit complaining. Remember, you got beat @ HOME by an Auburn team UGA beat by 30+points.

  • “the schedule is weak the first three weeks”? I dunno….I’d be willing to bet that Game #2 will be a good deal tougher than Game #4 (Vandy in Athens)

    • Exactly, Mizzoumatt.

      We’ve lost 9 games in a row to SEC teams who made a winning season the year we played them, starting with the Kentucky game in 2007.

      We’ve lost 9 games in a row to any team any conference who made any top 25 poll the year we played them, back to the Georgia tek game in 2009.

      We’ve lost 7 games in a row to any team any conference who made any top 10 poll the year we played them, dating all the way back to the Auburn # 9 team in 2006.

      We play 1 team this entire 12-game regular season who made any top 25 poll, South Carolina – who is going after its 3rd win in a row over us.

      That is the salient point about why we start the season # 6 in the nation. We have a soft, easy schedule. We don’t beat the top teams, and don’t fool yourselves that # 48 in the nation Auburn or # 48 in the nation Georgia tek are either one of them, top teams – not, when neither made any top 25 poll and both ended up 8-5.

      Mizzou is an 8-5 team. And, they lost their entire team except for their running backs and James Franklin quarterback – who, unlike our own QB – is a dual-threat QB notwithstanding his shoulder surgery. Mizzou doesn’t pass the football, and while our front 7 are great, we cannot stop any team who can complete the forward pass. Our secondary, including 9 attrition for 2012 who are among the 31 attrition for 2012, all 9 and all 31 of whom Mark Richt gave a Scholarship to to play 2012 against Mizzou and none of the 31 attrition from our team, nor the 9 attrition on the secondary will play 2012 against Mizzou.

      27 teams made 10-win seasons in 2011, and we not only beat none of the 27 who made 10-win seasons in 2011, we beat none of the 36 teams 2011 who made 9-win seasons, either.

      We beat no SEC team who made a winning season, and although Mizzou figures to lose to Florida, lose to Alabama in a blow-out, lose to South Carolina and probably lose to UGA Bulldogs in addition with no defense at Mizzou, who never has had a defense, Mizzou has a very easy schedule. It’s just that UGA’s schedule 2012, as it was in 2011, is even softer than Mizzou’s schedule.

      South Carolina played 1 more game against a top team than UGA in 2011 ? You mean like Arkansas 2011, while we played no Arkansas, no LSU and Alabama – wait, we did back in to The SEC Championship Game and got our clocks cleaned 10-42 by LSU.

      We started the 2011 campaign with losses to lightweight Boise State when our secondary was picked apart by their QB, and our schedule is as easy as their schedule is. Then, South Carolina beat us for the 2nd consecutive season with their QB also head-to-head far better on the field than ours. We couldn’t stop South Carolina, while their defense threw Aaron Murray around like a Rag Doll. Then, we ended the season blown out in the embarrassing loss to LSU when their quarterbacks, as well, blew the doors off our QB in that game and then, our defense couldn’t stop Michigan State, and we all watched as they just drove the field on our defense to beat us, prompting Mark Richt all off-season to state that “we must get stops of Defense with the game on the line.”

      We beat lightweights. We lost to every team who made any top 25 poll.

      Our Home Schedule for my seasons’ tickets is a total abject joke 2012. There is not a game in the entire home schedule. It’s a crying shame such a schedule has to be forced onto my seasons’ tickets with the monies I spend following this team.

      Every off-season, the DISNEYdawgs.com run into every blog and say oh let’s censor posts that only say that we are winning a national championship with Mark Richt and none of all of this is the fault of the head coach, Mark Richt.

      Then, we play a few good teams, and get our fannies kicked, again.

      While bragging how Aaron Murray threw 5 Touchdown Passes against Louisiana Lafayette.

      • THIS JUST IN: UGA had a couple bad seasons. First team ever to have that happen to them. No college football team or program has ever seen this happen before. All UGA Coaches and players should be burned at the alter- fans should take up another team… the program has been discontinued.

  • Hey Jaxdawg did you read what bulldawg said. That’s what I mean by a easy schedule. Good post bulldawg. I dawg fan I can respect!!!

  • Georgia is the Nortre Dame of the SEC.
    Unbelievable press and hype before the season with marginal results during the season.

  • Even if we go undeafeted and somehow win the SEC Championship our schedule will kesep us out of the NC. As it should! As excited as I
    am to know we’ll have a winning season it’d be hypocritical of me to say we deserve that chance.

  • Jon, you say that “the Bulldogs have not been the same since Brian Van Gorder left after the 2004 season.” Yes, Van Gorder was totally awesome and is sorely missed, but I have to correct you – the Bulldogs have not been the same since Bobo started calling the plays. You are correct that dogs have top talent, but then they under achieve year after year…and here’s why. Bobo refuses to call misdirection plays – it’s that simple. Our opponent’s linebackers know that all they have to do is read the surge of UGA red jerseys (left right or straight ahead) to know where the play is going. With no element of surprise, Bobo hands the advantage over to the opponent.

    On average the dogs run one (maybe two) misdirection plays a game, and every one of them has worked (except 2 the past three years). In 2010 Bob ran six against Ga. Tech, 5 of which worked well, and that helped us win that close game. But the dogs mustered only 6, 12 and 6 points against South Caroline, Mississippi State and U of Central Florida that same year.

    Now ask me how I know this. Here’s how. I lecture on college campuses around the south to the parents whose kids play for Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida and they tell me that it is common knowledge among Georgia’s opponents that all you have to do is read the red shirt surge to clog where the ball is going. Since I was first told this in 2007, I’ve kept watch and they are correct, Bobo refuses to run misdirection and instead prefers to follow blockers. Bobo’s conservative play call losses the element of surprise and the effectiveness of GA’s running game. It is easy to look at UGA’s overall offensive numbers (padded with Coastal Carolina and New Mexico State opponents) and conclude that they achieve decent numbers, but given their top talent I’d say that UGA achieves decent stats despite Bobo’s un-imaginative play call, not because of it.

    Urban Meter typically runs about 17 misdirection plays a game against UGA, which keep the GA D guessing, off balance and running their butts off. When Mark Richt called the plays, he was more likely to run on obvious passing plays and pass on obvious running plays – and that was what Mark Richt brought to Athens.

    The good news is that Bobo excels at every other facet of the game. He is an effective coach, a good game manager, a good clock manager (far better than Richt), a good motivator, a good technician, etc. However his refusal to embrace 5 to 8 misdirection plays a game has lost GA games and perhaps championship opportunities.

    Darn, it’s sure fun to be an arm chair head coach!

    • Thats a very intresting take. I think strong D will win us most of next years games but we will certainly need the offense to score big against teams like Mizzou, TN, SC, UF and in Atlanta against LSU. I hope to see an emergence in the power running attack and in turn, more big plays in the passing game will come. I feel like Bobo gameplans well but doesnt make the proper adjustments. He has to be able to adjust his playcalling mid game and sometimes mid-series in order to keep the Defense on its heels.