Secondary: Star power, depth, versatility give the Bulldogs reason to bark

Eighth in a series breaking down Georgia’s 2011 football team by position groups. . . .

The return of senior cornerback Brandon Boykin is a big reason for optimism that Georgia's improved play in the secondary will continue this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The return of senior cornerback Brandon Boykin is a big reason for optimism that Georgia's improved play in the secondary will continue this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE DEFENSIVE BACKS

  • Projected starters: CB Brandon Boykin (Sr., 5-10, 183), FS Bacarri Rambo (Jr., 6-0, 218), SS Shawn Williams (Jr., 6-1, 220), CB Sanders Commings (Jr., 6-2, 217)
  • Returning starters: All of them. Rambo started all 13 games (nine at strong safety and four at free safety) while Boykin has started 24 of the last 26 and has played in every game since he’s been at Georgia. Commings started nine games at cornerback while Williams started three games at free safety.
  • Others to watch: You might as well add Branden Smith as another returning starter as the junior from Atlanta got nine starts last season as either a corner or nickelback in a five-defensive back formation. Senior Jakar Hamilton started five games at free safety and will be in the playing rotation. Redshirt freshman strong safety Marc Deas is one to keep an eye on.
  • Key losses: Vance Cuff, who started five games at cornerback and played in 44 in his career, graduated. One-time starting safety Nick Williams, who would have been a senior, transferred to North Alabama.
  • Key newcomers: Georgia loaded up on elite defensive backs in recruiting. The Bulldogs landed a pair of AJC Super 11 selections in Damian Swann of Grady and Nick Marshall of Wilcox County. Marshall starred as a quarterback but agreed to sign with UGA as a defensive back with the promise of getting some looks on offense. Devin Bowman, Quintavious Harrow and Corey Moore also came in as defensive backs. Valdosta’s Malcolm Mitchell, who was nationally rated as a cornerback prospect, is listed on Georgia’s roster as “athlete” but is expected to begin his career as a wide receiver.
  • Key fact: Boykin bypassed the chance to enter the NFL draft in order to return for his final season and is being rewarded by seeing his named on virtually efvery preseason watch list, including the Thorpe, Bednarik and Nagurski awards. This honor roll student from Fayette County is also the school record holder for career kickoff return yards (1,871) and is the only player in SEC history to have three 100-yard plays of any kind. . . . Rambo also has found his way on some preseason lists.
  • Key question: Can the Bulldogs maintain the trajectory of improvement in pass coverage it established this past season? A year after allowing an SEC worst 25 touchdown passes and intercepting only 10, Georgia gave up just 15 scores and picked off 16 passes (13 by defensive backs).
  • Outlook: Very good. In their second year under secondary coach Scott Lakatos, with the return of an experienced and deep unit, the addition of young talent and the anticipation of an improved pass-rushing presence from the front seven, there’s reason to expect this group to only get better.
  • Your turn: What are your thoughts on Georgia’s secondary?

PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:

July 11 — Linebackers

July 8 — Defensive line

July 7 — Quarterbacks

July 6 — Running backs

July 5 — Tight ends

July 2 — Wide receivers

July 1 — Offensive line

130 comments Add your comment

Tiger4Life

July 12th, 2011
9:07 am

Newman

July 12th, 2011
9:08 am

Just don’t let anybody behind you.

Frank Lane

July 12th, 2011
9:11 am

I think walk-on Conner Norman is the most football savvy of the entire group. would like to see him get a chance at Free Safety.

Tiger4Life

July 12th, 2011
9:11 am

Georgia’s secondary should be very good. A lot of experience is always good, plus the d-line will get pressure on the QB. I’m looking forward to a 10 win season.

Natureboy809

July 12th, 2011
9:16 am

@ Frank Lane- Connor certainly always seemed to be in the right place at the right time during G-Day

vince

July 12th, 2011
9:18 am

This secondary should, in totality, be pretty good–although none have Jake Scott talent, the overall package should be solid.

Rip Van Winkle

July 12th, 2011
9:20 am

I can see it now! It is 1980 all over again!!!

Rip Van Winkle

July 12th, 2011
9:21 am

Frank Lane- Connor certainly always seemed to be in the right place at the right time during G-Day, cause Murray could not see him.

RedandBlackDAWG

July 12th, 2011
9:21 am

I hope our defense lives up to the high hopes we all place on them. We will need them to dominate and control the other teams offense until our offense gets it’s feet under it for a couple of games. They sure appear capable based on depth, experience and athletic abilities. I think our D coach will have them ready.

Riley's Cooper

July 12th, 2011
9:22 am

I hope Boykin plays in the NFL East cause I sure liked playin against him.

Moving Dog

July 12th, 2011
9:22 am

The D is going to have to be very good for us to have a chance of competing for the SEC east. I just don’t see the fire power on the O unless Richt does something brilliant like the Robert Edwards move from secondary to Tailback. Maybe Brandon Smith?

Dirty Red and Black

July 12th, 2011
9:22 am

@ Frank Lane and Natureboy809 – Connor Norman for President! He looked really good at the G-Day game. I hope he gets some looks on the field this year!

TallyDawg

July 12th, 2011
9:25 am

This could be a really different kind of season like in the past when we shut teams down. Our defense “could” be really nasty this year and win some games for us. it is a shame we didn’t have this defense in 2008… Richt has the offensive genius to score with what he has – if he “wants to”. I know he didn’t like Bowden taking game plans over from him while at FSU, and thus may be reluctant to do that to Bobo… We’ll see. If it weren’t for the depleted offensive line and inexperienced running back situation, I would be so amped up for the season.

Paul N Destin

July 12th, 2011
9:26 am

The tradition continues…UGA the best team in football …March thru August

Blindog

July 12th, 2011
9:26 am

Sept. 3 can’t get here fast enough!!!!

TallyDawg

July 12th, 2011
9:27 am

@ Rip Van Winkle – It really does seem that way…except with a better quarterback. How deep was that offensive line in 1980?

Joey

July 12th, 2011
9:27 am

In year two of a major change in defensive scheme, as well as philosophy, (attacking vs passive) the DBs, fully understanding their responsibilities, can play full speed.

At least, that’s what Grantham promised us. I expect a huge improvement from the D, an improvement that will turn “Ls” into “Ws.”

BKbroila

July 12th, 2011
9:30 am

Who knows…..??? I am going into the season with a different view than I normally do….It’s kind of like watching a Michael Bay film…If you go into it with Zero expectations, it’s doesn’t let you down….

Time for a change!

July 12th, 2011
9:34 am

Gotta be better than last year and I think it will be. Overall they played pretty good last year, but and there is a big BUT, they didn’t do their jobs in key critical situations see Arkansas and South Carolina games. Can’t give up the home runs. Hopefully we have better play from the Safety position this year than over the last two seasons. Rambo needs to step up and put his big boy britches on and knock someone out when they come across the middle of “HIS” field! He has to, otherwise there will be a lot of the same ol’ same ol’…

Bring Back Wally Butts

July 12th, 2011
9:37 am

Anybody think that Rambo hasn’t quite been the same after the AU knockout? Wonder if there is a reluctance on his part to go full speed.

dawgfan75

July 12th, 2011
9:37 am

So much talent! I agee Connor is a formidable late blooming player. Not much weakness in the whole group. Any qb passing against us had better come with his head straight and eyes wide.

JAWJeRDAWG

July 12th, 2011
9:37 am

With the talent of UGA’s experienced and in-coming secondary players, we should be set this year and for several years to come. Hopefully this unit will play up to their potential and help the Defense drop it’s PPG point allowance to around 16 – 17 or less. If so, I think we can be competitive and win some close games we lost last year. Here’s hoping. .. Go Dawgs!

St. Richt

July 12th, 2011
9:42 am

Yep, its groundhog day again. More SEC and National Championship hopes from Georgia fans. The Bulldogs are always unbeatable in the preseason.

St. Richt

July 12th, 2011
9:43 am

Yep, that defense will be nasty all right. It should go from atrocious last year to flawless this year after losing your best defensive players to the NFL draft.

Tobias Funke

July 12th, 2011
9:44 am

Its amazing what a difference the D has made with Soft Willie gone! Go Dawgs! This D will be nasty!

Bring Back Wally Butts

July 12th, 2011
9:46 am

Strange turn of events. Last several years the Offense had to carry the Defense. Looks like now the D will have to carry the O until we get some depth at RB and OL. It is a shame about King because not only did he blow an opportunity to have a great senior year and increase his NFL chances, but he would have provided a great transition for the young guys in showing them how to block the blitz, which is surely to come due mainly to RB inexperience in picking up SEC defensive schemes. Sure turns up a lot of heat on Crowell.

AltamahaDawg

July 12th, 2011
9:50 am

Maybe we need Donnan to move one them to RB….eh St. Richt?

St. Richt

July 12th, 2011
9:51 am

Tobia Funke, yes, that Todd Grantham-led defense rivals that of the 1985 Bears.

nasty dog

July 12th, 2011
9:55 am

Our defense is going to be nasty.Defense wins championships.We will lead the sec in defense.therefore we will win the sec east.

AltamahaDawg

July 12th, 2011
9:57 am

I thought as a group they were noticeably better towards the end of the last year, so there is no reason to doubt they would be a lot better. They clearly did not start out the past season with much confidence on what to do.

coachx

July 12th, 2011
9:58 am

The defense will be tough with Jenkins and a motivated 350 lb Geathers rotating at NT. TDawgs will finally be able to stuff the run.

UGA was 30th in ypg given up last season.
UGA gave up the 48th most TDs with 37.
UGA only played the 18th most snaps on defense at 768.

Just some food for thought. It appears we have to stop giving up the big play more then old problem of giving up repeated long drives.

Floyd

July 12th, 2011
9:59 am

This group will be as good as the pass rush allows it to be.

JDawg1785

July 12th, 2011
10:04 am

This is a talented group with some stud freshman coming in. I wonder why Connor Norman wasn’t listed as an option? He definitely earned the respect of every fan at G-Day.

lifelongdawg

July 12th, 2011
10:08 am

Swann, Marshall, and Mitchell are all superb athletes that could play multiple positions. The D should be strong. The key issues will be establishing a running game, and staying healthy on the O-line. If we can figure those two out, we will compete with anyone in college football.

Delusional anti-Dog posters

July 12th, 2011
10:08 am

The only people on here talking about SEC and NC are anti-UGA posters. Also those “living in the past” and talking about 1980 are invariably the same ones who are fans of other schools.

It will all begin to play out in a few short weeks, and it will be obvious if the Dog defense is improved or not.

VA DAWG

July 12th, 2011
10:10 am

The group should only improve, especially with the improvement on the defensive line (addition of Jenkins, Geathers improvement and Tyson’s slide outside). With the increased pressure provided by the frontline, this unit should see INTs go up and TDs diminish. The defense will determine the success of this team and “on paper” it looks pretty darn good. Time will tell. GO DAWGS!

DawginLex

July 12th, 2011
10:17 am

The secondary being good or bad is dependent on the front 7 at any level, college or pro.

Whole lot easier to cover a WR when the QB is on his back or running for his life.

That will be the difference in whether or not this group excels.

MEMO TO ALL THE IDIOT HATERS:(YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)

No Dawg fan/alumni/supporter with any brain matter is predicting a national title for Georgia in 2011. To continue to post “Summer national champs” and all the other crap just proves you to be a hater idiot. My advice is to give it a rest.

My prediction has been 8 or 9 wins with 10 wins being a miracle.

Even though the game is in Athens, I believe SC will beat us in a close low scoring game. I do believe we will beat Boise.

If that is delusional national title predicting stuff then you have a major reading comprehension problem.

BMDPD

July 12th, 2011
10:24 am

I am still very worried. The loss of CK4 was bigger than most want to believe/acknowledge. I think our D will be fine. If the D can score 14 points a game, then we should be okay.

macrotech

July 12th, 2011
10:26 am

UGA will regain their swagger with a suffocating defense…THIS is what the dawgs are known for. Looks like they are getting back to their roots! Best of luck until that last game of the season…feel free to rest them on that day. Thanks!

lifelongdawg

July 12th, 2011
10:28 am

Agreed Lex,…there was a time when 10 wins was expected. This is now a goal to get back to, and certainly anything greater just isnt very realistic just yet. The front 7 look very capable. This is the first season in sometime that Im more excited about the playmaking potential of the defense. I do like the direction our newer coaches are moving in, and believe we have reason to feel excited about our future.

RabidDawgFan

July 12th, 2011
10:29 am

Watch Kellen Moore get rattle and he’ll throw 3 picks. I’m telling you. Ask Colt Brennan how it felt to be hyped up as the BCS buster team, and play against the Dawgs defense. Back when we faced Hawaii, all we heard was how Colt Brennan and his wide receivers were the best in the country and they were going to chew Georgia’s D up. Sounds like deja vu to me. Doesn’t it?

RabidDawgFan

July 12th, 2011
10:32 am

DE: Abry Jones
NG: John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers
DE: DeAngelo Tyson

OLB: Jarvis Jones/Ray Drew
ILB: Alec Ogletree
ILB: Christian Robinson
OLB: Cornelius Washington/Chase Vasser

CB: Sanders Commings
FS: Bacarri Rambo
SS: Shawn Williams
CB: Brandon Boykin

Lasso

July 12th, 2011
10:33 am

Most of you guys simply aren’t paying attention. While we will be fine at corner, safety is a HUGE concern. Rambo and Williams are slow and are frequently out of position. “Hitman” Hamilton possesses the most inappropriate nickname in the history of sports. Dude hides from contact. We absolutely need Marc Deas to be the real deal, and it wouldn’t hurt if Corey Moore came into camp as a baller – he’d certainly see the field. Forget Norman – yes, he knows the game. But he just doesn’t possess an SEC-caliber skills set.

gomdawg

July 12th, 2011
10:33 am

Conner Norman at running back, another Robert Edwards

Big Earl

July 12th, 2011
10:34 am

For those who went to G-Day, do you have any reports of how Richard Samuel did @ LB? With our backfield so depleted, maybe he moves back to RB. He was just a kid when he was back there before, only 18 years old, and now he’s up to 240+. He could always fly and now maybe he could run over some people instead of being arm tackled. If only he had a little more lateral jiggle… he seems like a great kid and a talent that’s not being utilized.

Coach Bare Bryant = LEGEND

July 12th, 2011
10:35 am

In all fairness, can ANY current or former UGA players recite all their ABCs?

If they would just display their UGA diplomas in their car windows like handicap parking decals, they wouldn’t get arrested for DUI.

BMDPD

July 12th, 2011
10:37 am

That’s great, but if the offense cannot score, then we are in for a long season. We have average wide receiver talent (Small factor). We are hurting in the running back postion (Big factor). We are very thin at OL (Huge factor). I am not confident about this season. We had one back that could pass block, but now he is gone (Tough “Brake” for us).

mgdawg

July 12th, 2011
10:37 am

I don’t know if I agree with you about the secondary. Rambo is on somebody’s list? He is one of the most frustrating players for me to watch. A lot of times on big offensive plays you can watch him just standing still on the replays, a lot of times when he tackles he either will dive at the player and try to push him over or just wait for them to run to him and try to catch them and fall. Branden smith has been one of the bigger dissapointments for me, when I first watched him play and watched his speed I thought I was going to be the next champ bailey. However, each year that I think it is his turn to step up as a starter, another player leapfrogs him for the starting spot. Boykin is very good, I’m very glad to see him come back. I would really like to see more man coverage instead of zone, whenever they run zone it seems like they are covering grass instead of players.

cornbread

July 12th, 2011
10:38 am

What site can i find the 2011 Gday game on. Go Dawgs

WDE

July 12th, 2011
10:40 am

@Coach Bare Bryant =Rump Ranger….troll.