Defensive backs: Will three new starters and new coach spell new results?

(Ninth in a summer series looking at Georgia’s football team by position.)

TODAY: DEFENSIVE BACKS

  • Returning starter: CB Brandon Boykin.
  • Starters lost: S Reshad Jones (drafted in fifth round by Miami Dolphins); S Bryan Evans (signed as undrafted free agent with Cincinnati Bengals but was cut last week); CB Prince Miller (signed as undrafted free agent with Baltimore Ravens).
  • Cornerback depth chart: Boykin, a junior, is the clear starter at one corner, and Vance Cuff, a senior, is No. 1 at the other after a strong spring. However, the competition between Cuff and ultra-promising sophomore Branden Smith will continue in preseason practice.  Look for Boykin, Cuff and Smith on the field in nickel situations. Redshirt sophomore Sanders Commings and redshirt freshman Jordan Love also are in the cornerback mix.
  • Safety depth chart: Redshirt sophomore Bacarri Rambo is the clear starter at free safety, and junior Nick Williams emerged from spring ball No. 1 at strong safety. Williams will have to stave off continued competition in preseason practice, with prized recruit Alec Ogletree joining JUCO transfer Jakar “The Hit Man” Hamilton, sophomore Shawn Williams and injury-plagued senior Quintin Banks in the mix.
  • Key fact: Georgia allowed 25 touchdown passes (the most in the SEC) and intercepted only 10 passes (the second fewest in the SEC) last season. Four of the 10 interceptions were by Jones, who left early for the NFL.
  • Key question: Will a fresh start in the secondary –- three new starters, new coach (Scott Lakatos), new approach — produce better results after back-to-back shaky seasons?
  • Recent developments: The arrival of Ogletree and Hamilton in the 2010 signing class adds some serious talent. Ogletree, from Newnan, was rated the No. 3 safety prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 3 outside-linebacker prospect by Scout.com. He’s working at safety this summer but might play OLB down the road. Hamilton, who came to Athens by way of Georgia Military College, was ranked the nation’s No. 4 safety prospect (and second best junior-college player) by Rivals.
  • Outlook: Up in the air. There’s a lot of talent — albeit largely unproven at the collegiate level other than Boykin — and players are genuinely excited about Lakatos’ vision of an aggressive, physical secondary that stresses press coverage and interceptions. As Cuff said during the spring: “Coach Lakatos, he wants the ball.”
  • Your turn: What say you about the secondary?

If you missed ‘em, take a glance at other positions:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks.

Tailbacks/fullbacks.

Wide receivers.

Tight ends.

Offensive line.

DEFENSE

Outside linebackers.

Inside linebackers.

Defensive line.

NEXT WEEK: Special teams.

277 comments Add your comment

Suckers are First

June 24th, 2010
6:19 am

Enter your comments here

Kramer

June 24th, 2010
6:29 am

This group has the potential to be the most impressive on the field. We’ll see.

topdawg70

June 24th, 2010
6:31 am

can’t be any worse than last year, when the opposing teams game plan was ” go stand in the hole in Willie’s zone and I will throw it to you” Oh and don’t worry they can’t tackle either

Army Dawg in Iraq

June 24th, 2010
6:31 am

Ive got to believe that Hamilton will emerge as the starter before the season starts which in turn allows Olgetree to move to Linebacker where he will be a star. Good coaching and great talent makes this the most improved area of the team. Go Dawgs!!!

dawgfan

June 24th, 2010
6:37 am

Seems to me that we’ve got guys back there that can run real fast in a straight line but haven’t proven they can do it on a football field. We’ll see…

25 touchdown passes last year? Really guys? REALLY?

BDAWG

June 24th, 2010
6:50 am

NEW SEASON, BETTER PLAYERS, BETTER SECONDAY COACH AND HOPEFULLY A BETTER OVERALL DEFENSE. SECONDARY SHOULD SHINE PLAYING PRESS COVERAGE. WILL BE A LOT BETTER IN 2011 WITH BIGGER CB COMING IN. LB AND SECONDARY MUST BE PUNISHING HITTERS TO STRIKE FEAR INTO THE OPPOSING TEAMS PLAYERS. AFTER THE SC GAME, HOPEFULLY THE DEFENSE WILL GAIN SOME KIND OF SWAGGER AND CONFIDENCE. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT THE DEFENSE WILL BE ONE OF THE BEST IN THE NATION. COACHING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. HOPEFULLY THE OFFENSIVE COACHES RETHINK THEIR APPROACH BEFORE THE START OF THE SEASON. MORE AGGRESSIVE OFFENSE. THE QB WILL BE FINE. HE WILL GET BETTER EVERY GAME. THE MAIN THING IS, WE CANNOT BE PREDICTABLE LIKE WE HAVE BEEN THE PAST THREE SEASONS.

chazzo

June 24th, 2010
6:55 am

The D in its entirety will be fast. There seemed to be a renewed emphasis on fundamentals in the spring. I am more concerned about the interior line being able to stop the run.

tony

June 24th, 2010
6:59 am

3 words describe Olgetree(future leader) – Playmaker The Destroyer

[...] by subtraction Jump to Comments I get Tim Tucker’s point about Georgia’s secondary this season… Outlook: Up in the air. There’s a lot of [...]

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 24th, 2010
7:00 am

this will be a much improved secondary. love Rambo & his passion..i think we have some true talented players back there. Lakatos’s scheme at UCONN was great- i can see our #s from last year going in reverse. My only question is Boykin- love the the guy, but will he still return punts/kicks exposing himself to injury??

puppydawg

June 24th, 2010
7:03 am

Willie’s gone. It’s a case of addition by subtraction.

Paddy

June 24th, 2010
7:13 am

I see talent and depth in this unit. They would have played much different last year if WM would have turned them loose. No worries for me with our secondary.

RomeDawg

June 24th, 2010
7:16 am

May turn out to be the strength of the defense.

redeployed dawg

June 24th, 2010
7:22 am

Very atheletic group. 3 of the 4 starters (Boykin, Rambo, Williams) were QBs in high school. It will be interesting to see how they come together.

SatchelBuzz

June 24th, 2010
7:23 am

Whew,…..lots of question marks with this group.

THWG!

JB

June 24th, 2010
7:24 am

Talent and a much better coaching staff. It has to be better and potentially, markedly so.

HBTD!!!

Steve Spurrier

June 24th, 2010
7:33 am

Uh, no. 3-4 has plenty of holes I intend to exploit.

destin dawg

June 24th, 2010
7:35 am

Boykin, ” hit man Hamilton”, Ogletree, coached by Lagotos ???!!!! What’s not to like…. I can see turnover ratio much improved … we’ve had the talent, now we have the coaching !!!! go Dawgs !!

oledawg

June 24th, 2010
7:46 am

These fast and feisty Dawgs should be fun to watch as they mature into the team flavor. Lakatos will keep their feet on the ground while they grow on the field as a bunch of Dingo Wild Dawg Defense men.

59bulldawg

June 24th, 2010
7:47 am

Otto coaching 3 grannies and a blind man would be an improvement over Martinez and last year’s secondary. There’s no where to go but up. Of course we’ll be better!

Bulldog

June 24th, 2010
7:54 am

I think Martinez could have turned it around if he had one more year.

Not really.

I like the new attitude and the players seem to dig it. That’s great.

Too bad to hear about Bryan Evans getting cut. The kid came close to filling a dream, but missed. That’s a heartbraker. I wish him the best.

The real tragedy is that he might have made it had Richt done the right thing and fired Martinez when everyone else knew he wasn’t cutting it. If Evans had someone actually coaching him and preparing him for the next level, even for just one year, the kid might be living his dream. Loyalty has a price.

joe

June 24th, 2010
7:59 am

3 new starters, new coach and new scheme may lead to disaster. Think Mallet will be throwing 50 times in Sept? Might be loss #1 or #2 for the pups at that point of the season. Safe to say secondary is the achilles heel.

Steve

June 24th, 2010
8:26 am

Not enough experience, and not enough good depth at corner. CB will be one of the weakest areas of the team. Boykin, Cuff, and Smith are good cb’s, but not shutdown corners. Love will probably be good in a couple of years, but not so much now. We needed Robey. Lakatos will help. Hope dawg faithful will give him a couple of years to recruit and develop a great secondary.

Safety – long on talent – short on experience. Again, we will struggle. Trust me, i hope I’m, wrong!

Billy O

June 24th, 2010
8:31 am

Hey joe…..we beat Ark last year in Fay with CWM…..we’ve got better coaching and we’re playing @ home…..see that glass over there…..it’s half FULL…..not have empty. You’ve got to be positive. I understand the trolls coming on and being negative…..is that what you are or are you a BULLDOG?

kydawg

June 24th, 2010
8:35 am

B. Evans already cut by the Bengals???? Surely Not!!!

Magic Man

June 24th, 2010
8:38 am

I think the secondary play will be like night and day from last year. First of all, we will be playing a whole lot more bump-and-run, instead of turn and gallop. We will also be looking to intercept the ball more, which should happen with the added pressure expected.

Lakatos seems to be a really good teacher and a stickler for fundamentals. Willie Martinez…was not. We have a lot of talent, albeit young talent. Still, I expect big things.

1eyedJack

June 24th, 2010
8:39 am

Lightning and Thunder!!

Go Dawgs!!!

wsewell525

June 24th, 2010
8:43 am

I honestly think we are going to dominate people. With the Houston up front attacking, and the speed of boykin, and Cuff, vision of Ogletree, Hamilton intimidating people in the middle. The only thing we will have to watch for are the double teams when they run, and maybe don’t bite on the play action. We should finally go back to the days when a team barely scored 10 points on us in a game.

Joe, 3 new starters

June 24th, 2010
8:44 am

These guys all have plenty of playing time in Cuff, Williams, and Rambo. Its not like they dont have experience. Hard for Mallet to exploit when he is on his back. That is the first line of pass defense.

Delbert D.

June 24th, 2010
8:46 am

The comments all bear some merit. Boykin may be the most experienced, but in last year’s scheme, it was he who sometimes got caught with no receiver near him. There were several plays where he looked confused as to his responsibility. Hopefully the change in coaching will bring clarity to what was a weakness last year.

Mike S

June 24th, 2010
8:50 am

People need to remember that a lot of the reasons for those 25 TD passes are gone — Namely Willie Martinez OLE! zone defense that created huge holes for recievers to run in, compounded by Martinez’ complete lack of agression on the D-line and LB corp which created situations for the QB to just stand back there and find the huge holes the zone was creating, and topped with a complete lack of tackling fundamentals that Martinez’ and co apparently weren’t teaching.

HMMMM — I see one recurring theme throughout that last paragraph. I wonder what (MARTINEZ) that theme (MARTINEZ) could be? (MARTINEZ!!)

DawgGirl32

June 24th, 2010
8:51 am

Probably the group I’m most excited about on the team. Sooo much talent back there. I could seriously see any number of them playing on Sundays in a few years. They’re going to hit some speed bumps this year because of their lack of experience but wait and see. We’re going to have the best defensive backfield in the SEC in a couple years.

JB

June 24th, 2010
8:55 am

This will be the BIGGEST area of improvement…Better athletes and A LOT better coaching, and the REAL PLUS will be that the QB will have to HOLD the BALL a little longer because of tighter coverage which will make an AGGRESSIVE front 7 that much more effective. Can’t do anything but be an improvement !. GATA

hirsutedawg

June 24th, 2010
8:56 am

If we are simply fundamentally sound we will be better than last year. With aggression comes mistakes but also opportunities. We’ll be fine folks.

robodawg

June 24th, 2010
8:56 am

“Coach Lakatos, he wants the ball.” Great quote.

Yeah, we have playing time experience coming back, and a lot of talent back there. I expect the secondary to be pretty good. It’s a new coach with a different philosophy, but it’s not a whole new system like the 7 guys up front are learning.

mgdawg

June 24th, 2010
8:56 am

Press coverage at UGA, I have missed you so much. The corners have all the talent, with improved coaching the sky should be the limit. The safeties are hard hitters once again, I still remember that hit williams laid in the spring game. I hope people aren’t expecting too much out of hamilton, I watched him play at GMC and he is impressive physically, but he’s not a big hitter. I’m not saying the kid isn’t good, but that really isn’t his style of play.

dbc

June 24th, 2010
8:58 am

I’m just happy we have a coach who finally has these guys looking for the ball instead of face guarding. That alone should be a big improvement!

RxDawg

June 24th, 2010
9:03 am

Bad: losing Rashad

Good: losing Evans – seriously, was this guy blackmailing the coaches?

Bad: Q Banks having his entire career demolished from nagging injuries.

Good: new coaching philosophy for the 2ndary.

Awesome: actually having a player named Rambo. That instantly makes us the coolest team in college ball.

Rip Van Winkle

June 24th, 2010
9:03 am

It’s only been 30 years; is it time for me to wake up humpers?

DawginLex

June 24th, 2010
9:12 am

We threw 25 and gave up 25.
We took 10 and gave up 14.
See why we went 8-5?

Goals for 2010:
Reduce the TD’s given up to 12-15 and get more takeaways.
Score more TD’s on the ground than through the air.
Create twice as many overall turnovers versus how many we make.
Finish in the top 3 in the SEC in fewest penalties.
Go back to BVG defense that never gives up more than 30 points.

Eisendawg

June 24th, 2010
9:25 am

Rip, I you will put a D’rick jersey on, and go long down the middle, Rambo will put you back to sleep for another 30

Flo-Ri-Duh!

June 24th, 2010
9:28 am

Martinez was a good position coach but not DC material. Do we now have a real DC or another position coach at DC? The talent is there in the secondary but inexperienced. The key is do the Dawgs have a consistent pass rush this year? A whole new defensive scheme, new players in the secondary and a new coaching staff – how fast can they learn?

Von Van Halanger is a clown.

June 24th, 2010
9:34 am

Too many injuries and too many excuses will be the Dawgs downfall once again. UGA coaches needs to go and get some pointers from Clemson’s strength and conditioning program which has been making strides in all sports. Football, basketball and Baseball. BTW Boo Boo is still a joke too. Mark it down Midgets !

Chris

June 24th, 2010
9:42 am

No Brian Evans = 110% improvement. End of discussion.

Big Albany Dawg

June 24th, 2010
9:44 am

“I don’t think you understand. I didn’t come to rescue Rambo from you. I came here to rescue you from him. “

How2fish

June 24th, 2010
9:48 am

Von Van Halanger is a clown. really??.Clemson ?? If you haven’t noticed they are in the ACC and we own the ACC…ask the Bugs if we were strong enough last Nov.Clemson…really thanks for the laugh.

Rip Van Winkle

June 24th, 2010
9:50 am

eisendawg Rip, I you will put a D’rick jersey on, and go long down the middle, Rambo will put you back to sleep for another 30

Your grammar is dog typical. By the way, Rambo is the only player who falls asleep on the field.

CHDawg

June 24th, 2010
9:54 am

I think the advantage to the 3-4 is pass D, no? So, the real question on D is can we stop the run? I think the extra/more disguised pressure up front, coupled with more aggressive DB play will create a lot more picks, poorer overall stats against us (better UGA stats) and maybe a few more big plays against us. That was CWM’s goal in playing loose/conservative–don’t give up the big play. The problem is that sometimes you give the opposing O free reign when you do that. These guys are much younger than the O. Our D is the key to any major aspirations for ‘10 imo. If we end up having a good to great D, I think we make a serious run for the NC. That would be a huge accomplishment based on our youth and past record, but I’m excited to see what the new D can do in ‘10!

Eisendawg

June 24th, 2010
10:02 am

Yeah, you got me there, Rip. I need to start proof reading my posts. I’ll still put my money on Rambo though.

Von Van Halanger is a clown.

June 24th, 2010
10:03 am

How 2 fish get a clue dude….How about that beat down in baseball by Clemson. Clemson owns the dawgs in Basketball too. Dont even start about the fooball sreies when most of UGAs wins came before WWII.