Georgia’s defense returns nine starters from the unit that ranked No. 5 nationally last year, but looming early-season suspensions apparently have a lot of folks taking a wait-and-see attitude, as an ESPN.com poll shows the Dawgs coming in fourth in a “best defense” vote, behind South Carolina, Alabama and LSU.
Still, as ESPN’s Edward Aschoff notes, “at full strength, this defense will be a handful, especially with one of the best linebacking corps in the country” and a potent starting secondary.
But I’m glad to see that Todd Grantham and his crew are reminding their troops there’s still much room for improvement. Rising senior linebacker Christian Robinson told ESPN that this spring the players dwelled on the 35 points given up to Boise State, the 45 to South Carolina, the 42 to LSU and the 33 to Michigan State — all losses.
“We’re not perfect, so when we go in our meeting rooms we watch the tape and there are always things to get better at,” Robinson said.
Mark Richt summed it up well: “You’re really not a great defense until you play great and we haven’t done that in 2012. We haven’t had a chance to do that yet. There’s an anticipation of having a chance to be pretty good if everybody keeps it together, stays healthy and does their part.”
Better than pretty good, actually. As Robinson said, “We have an opportunity to do something special, as a defense and as a team. If we go out and do what we know and what we’ve learned, we could be one of the best ever to play at Georgia.”
A FULLBACK BATTLE?
Freshman fullback Quayvon Hicks won’t report to Athens until June 4, but he’s already thrown down the gauntlet to junior Zander Ogletree, the presumed starter (assuming Richard Samuel doesn’t move over from the crowded tailback corps). Speaking to the Athens Banner-Herald, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hicks said of 5-foot-10, 224-pound Ogletree: “Zander Ogletree, I think, is a great man, but in SEC ball, you’ve got to have the size and I think that’s what he’s missing right now. I think I can come in and become great teammates with him and we can do this thing together.”
Of course, we’ve heard big talk from players arriving on campus before (remember the “Hitman”?), but Hicks, who won the Class AA discus throw this week at the state track meet, was rated as the No. 3 fullback prospect nationally by Scout.com.
If he lives up to his billing and his big talk, it’ll be great to see fullback once again become a strength for the Dawgs.
NOT YOUR FATHER’S GEORGIA-VANDERBILT
OK, so as we’ve discussed, Georgia’s home schedule is a bit lackluster this year and that’s probably one reason I’m hearing a lot more fan chatter about the Vanderbilt game than you’d normally expect. But thanks to last year’s close one with the Commodores in Nashville and the post-game fracas between Grantham and Vandy coach James Franklin, the Dawgs and the Dores actually looks like a pretty compelling story line this year.
As the Macon Telegraph reported, Richt was even asked about it at a fan gathering this week in Macon and joked that he might have to send Grantham upstairs to the booth for that one. He added: “I don’t think we’ll have much trouble getting jacked up to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this year, I’ll tell you that.”
Just what UGA football needs: Another meaningful SEC rivalry!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg