With Ogletree slated to return, what should Dogs do at linebacker?

ATHENS – One of the most welcome sights at Georgia’s practice Tuesday was a guy in a green jersey running by himself in one end zone at the far end of the field.

Starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, out since the first quarter of the first game of the year, was in full pads and running — quite swiftly and fluidly, in fact — through a series of speed and agility drills under the watchful eye of sports medicine director Ron Courson. Earlier in the day, head coach Mark Richt had made a rather bold pronouncement on what until then had been merely a wishful goal.

“Ogletree is looking really good,” Richt said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “We don’t think there is any question at all that he’ll be ready for the Florida game.”

“Tree,” as he has come to be called by coaches and teammates, was the talk of preseason camp because of the athleticism he brought to the “Mo” linebacker position from strong safety, where he started as a freshman the previous season. But Ogletree broke a bone in his foot early against Boise State. Not coincidentally, the Broncos were able to exploit Georgia’s defense late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter in that 35-21 loss.

The trouble regarding Ogletree’s return is the Bulldogs’ defense has developed quite nicely in his absence. Even after losing fellow starting inside linebacker Christian Robinson to an ankle injury in Game Two, Georgia’s linebacker corps has been a strength on a unit that is ranked sixth nationally and third in the defensive-minded SEC heading into Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt (7:08 p.m. Fox Sports South).

Robinson has been back for the last two games but has not returned to the starting lineup. “Backups” Michael Gilliard and Amarlo Herrera, who were working with the first-string defense again on Tuesday, have simply played to well in their absence to unseat.

Gilliard, who has started at “Mike” linebacker the last four games, was named SEC defensive player of the week after a 12-tackle effort against Tennessee that included a game-clinching sack. It was the fourth consecutive game he led the Bulldogs in stops and he now leads the Bulldogs with 40.

“I just feel like it’s my time to step up,” said Gilliard, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior from Valdosta. “I just go out there week in and week out, learn the playbook, learn our opponent and try to make plays and help my team win.”

Herrera, a 6-2, 231-pound freshman from College Park, has started the last four games at “Mo” linebacker and is tied for fourth on the team with 24 tackles.

Gilliard was asked what should happen upon Ogletree’s return. “Only time will tell,” he said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. It’s up to the coaches.”

Ultimately it will be up to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who is thrilled to have the dilemma.

“There’s 11 spots out there,” said Grantham, in his second season with Georgia since being hired away from the Dallas Cowboys. “Each Monday we’ll know who’s available. Based on who’s available we’ll figure out where we need to play guys by combination to give us the best chance to win.”

Gilliard, Grantham admitted, may be hard to move. Plus, he doesn’t know yet what he has in Ogletree.

“The plan is to get him out there next week and work a little bit and I’ll have a better idea then,” he said. “But I haven’t seen him do anything yet. I’ve been around him in meetings and on the field this week. That’s all I have. But the reports have been good.”

158 comments Add your comment

Dude

October 11th, 2011
8:28 pm

Tdawg

October 11th, 2011
8:29 pm

Tdawg

October 11th, 2011
8:31 pm

I say start tree and have Gillard and Amarlo be in a steady rotation to keep em fresh

Barticus Maximus

October 11th, 2011
8:33 pm

Next..and not really adding anything meaningful like Dude.

Barticus Maximus

October 11th, 2011
8:35 pm

Chip,
This is not a problem this week. Tree is not in playing shape and will not start. He will get a few reps throughout the game. It is a great problem to have now..

Barticus Maximus

October 11th, 2011
8:39 pm

Chip,
Why did you mention Gilliard and Herrera’s height and weight but failed to mention Tree’s?

Niceville Dawg

October 11th, 2011
8:43 pm

I aree Barticus.Slip Tree in on a few plays to get the game speed back in his head.An off week then bring on the lizards.

Army Vet

October 11th, 2011
8:44 pm

Dude….Get a life and grow up! You too Tdawg. How pathetic!

bwell

October 11th, 2011
8:49 pm

Redshirt Tree, or let him come off the bench and strenghten our depth chart for the rest of this year and be strong and have competition for next season.

Big Dawg

October 11th, 2011
8:50 pm

Fellow Dawgs you continue to start Gillard and Herrera with Robinson and Ogletree getting playing time maybe move Olgetree out to Washington’s position and see if he can play the position properly. That way you get your best players out onto the field, Gilliard and Herrera have been very pleasant surprises and have added depth at a position that was considered a possible weak point before the season started. Now it is a strength because these guys have stepped up in a big way.

Go Dawgs

Ocee

October 11th, 2011
8:57 pm

Start David Andrews, Merritt Hall and Kyle Krinvalis

Cali Dawg

October 11th, 2011
9:16 pm

These are the the kind of “dilemmas” we need to see more of…

Mark (another one)

October 11th, 2011
9:16 pm

Now that the opinions have been expressed, I would add, leave it to Coach G. He’ll evaluate things and make a decision based on what he believes is best. The defense has been great!!

Niceville Dawg

October 11th, 2011
9:18 pm

No doubt Cali.Wish we could put em all out there together

Bwk Dawg

October 11th, 2011
9:19 pm

They all will play as far as who starts let them dicide that on the feild. I think they will keep the line up the same and rotate the guys in and out and who ever makes the most plays will start and get the most playing time.

Doc Dawg

October 11th, 2011
9:20 pm

Back up at Linebacker AND Saftey !!!

Dr. Morpheus

October 11th, 2011
9:22 pm

Depth on D is good- just ask the Detroit Lions…

CJJScout

October 11th, 2011
9:34 pm

Redshirt him

yearofthedawg

October 11th, 2011
9:35 pm

Lets just beat Vandy.

Roaddawg80

October 11th, 2011
9:48 pm

niceville dawg

You can put them all out there. Tennessee did against LSU of the last play of the game last year except they got a flag. You just have to take chances with it. they almost got away with it.

Jwall

October 11th, 2011
9:49 pm

THE DAWGS ARE ON THE RISE!!!!!!

MaconKnight

October 11th, 2011
9:49 pm

I dont see tree as an outside line backer, he isnt as big as washington or houston , this kid was made for the inside linebacker position either one, mo or mike, he just has to work his way back on the field , get back to practicing at a high level then he will be able to compete for a starting position , this is great problem to have. we need washington back, we really didnt have a pass rush without blizting the linbackers…. this only going to push him harder and all the guys harder… the thing he brings is that he brings the lumber, when tree hits a rb, wr , te they all go down, its an intimdating factor to have in the middle of your defense.. to our coaches credit we have played good defense but you havent seen someone lay the lumber since the boise st game… although washington’s sack of miss st qb was a very big hit… but thats the only one that comes to mind… just saying tree brings it.. im for one glad he is getting ready to come back… our linebackers have become our strength..
Go Dawgs

Roaddawg80

October 11th, 2011
9:50 pm

I do think they should just redshirt Ogletree. I have said that for a couple of weeks now. He will only play in 4 more games after that.

Jwall

October 11th, 2011
9:52 pm

but we need tree for the last for games, we r going for an sec champ!

Horticultural Zen

October 11th, 2011
9:52 pm

@CJJScout: Redshirt him

The way he played against BSU, I would say…

REDSKIRT him. :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Jwall

October 11th, 2011
9:52 pm

Roaddawg80

October 11th, 2011
9:53 pm

MaconKnight

Jarvis Jones 6′3″ 240

ALec Ogletree 6′3″ 236

I think he is big enough to play OLB. Jones plays it pretty well.

Jwall

October 11th, 2011
9:53 pm

boise state was so long ago

Roaddawg80

October 11th, 2011
9:54 pm

JWALL

Can’t argue that point. Good one!

Brucerugby79

October 11th, 2011
9:57 pm

we have to beat Florida-don’t slip up on Vandy–but I think we all know what it boils down to-we have to beat Florida–I really don’t care about anything else–beat those darn Gators!!

athdog

October 11th, 2011
10:01 pm

Who really cares who starts? It’s who wins the game that counts. Having four good inside ‘backers only means that they won’t get tired. Rotate them in, keep them fresh through out the game.
Grantham and his coaches are doing a nice job, indeed. I was wrong about the 3-4. Keep rolling along and with all of the coaches back next year, it should just get better.

Delbert D.

October 11th, 2011
10:04 pm

“Ultimately we would like to be in the SEC. That’s where we think we belong geographically. We think we deserve to be.” — Memphis AD R.C. Johnson

Yikes! Just say no.

Roaddawg80

October 11th, 2011
10:06 pm

Wasn’t there a article this week on the recruiting blog about us needing LB’s and that is what they are selling to recruits about playing right away. We have no seniors at LB right now. The only person leaving off the defense is Boynkin. Unless Commings leaves early(god I hope not). We will be loaded next year. I mean LOADED> Junk yard DAWGS are back!!!!!!!

daddydog

October 11th, 2011
10:14 pm

Don’t change starters at this time. if someone outlays a starter, then he becomes a starter.

Dawg48

October 11th, 2011
10:18 pm

I think we should go with the starting line up we have, it might take tree awhile to knock off the rust. I hope the guy stays and plays for his 4 years of eligibility if theta red shirt him or not. I know we will need him for the tech game and that option.

ChattaDawg

October 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

Move him to Running Back….Just had to say it.

Get back soon “Tree”! We need as many LB’s as possible.

Go Dawgs!

What to do?

October 11th, 2011
10:37 pm

Rotate em. Mike Gilliard has played too well just to go sit down now. NO way should they do him or the other LB kids that way. THEY EARNED their PT.
Roate and rotate some more. THAT is why LSU and Alabama are so good. They have depth and to win big in the SEC ……………you need it. UGA is getting some now on D for a change.

Goooooooooooooooooooo Dogs.

OkieDawg

October 11th, 2011
10:38 pm

We need to beat Vandy and then beat Florida. If those 2 happen, CMR’s contract should be extended immediately. This keeps the recruits we already have and gets the ones we need. Our recruiting class is weak because other schools are using the unsettled coaches situation against us. John Theus is looking around because of doubt about CMR’s future. CMR has proven his worth and he needs a contract extension asap. The remainder of this year is looking good. Next year should be great and these are CMR’s guys. CMR stepped up and got rid of the bad actors and it shows.

FloridaDawg

October 11th, 2011
10:39 pm

Thinking red shirt could be the answer for Tree. Let him decide.
I’m for what ever it takes to beat Florida. That’s the ONLY thing that bothers me living in Jax.
Loosing it the lizards is below average.
Mark Richt knew when he was hired that that was one of his most important accomplishments.
If you beat Florida, you have a chance to win the east. That has been true for 20 years.

Dawg48

October 11th, 2011
10:41 pm

@okiedawg Well said I agree!

Bob

October 11th, 2011
10:41 pm

What a bunch of lame idiotic comments. Tree has to play his way back in…Gilliard has been fantastic. He starts, no question. Tree plays back up, gets back in playing shape and doesn’t do to much to fast. After that, who knows……but you don’t sit the ones that got you here….if Tree outplays the starters over time, he gets his spot back….I think Tree will be great, doesn’t change the fact that he was out and needs to play his way back…..What a wonderful thing!!!!

Natureboy809

October 11th, 2011
10:47 pm

Many people questioned Grantham coming into the season. So at this point, would any of you give him and the defensive staff and the progress they’ve made a grade of anything below an A at this point?

ATL Sports Fan

October 11th, 2011
10:49 pm

You do not redshirt Ogletree. If you do you have a Knoshow situation all over again. You have him play the final 5 regular season games and then the bowl game. You redshirt him and have him play 13 games next year and he is able to leave for the NFL with only playing 26 games and not 31 or more.

Also he is not playing this weekend, he will be back practicing at full contact next Monday.

Scott

October 11th, 2011
11:16 pm

@ What to do?: I agree that they should rotate them. Gives each guy an opportunity to play and gives them more experience that will be extremely beneficial going into next season. Gilliard should not sit, he’s a DGD that has proven himself worthy of playing time. Rotating the guys also keeps them from getting so tired in the 2nd half which is crucial in pulling out wins.

Chip Towers

October 11th, 2011
11:23 pm

ATL Sports Fan: To be clear, there has been absolutely no discussion of redshirting Alec Ogletree, even though they could.

Chip Towers

October 11th, 2011
11:29 pm

Bob: Such a refreshingly reasonable response you provided! And I happen to think that’s what will happen. Gilliard and Herrera/Robinson keep on keeping on and you work in Tree where you can. And don’t discount Tree playing somewhere you might now expect. Grantham is always preaching that he ranks his guys 1-11 and will try to put the 11 best on the field however he can!

Chip Towers

October 11th, 2011
11:35 pm

Barticus Maximus: Didn’t mean to not mention Tree’s measurables. He’s every bit of 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. As as physically impressive as just about any guy the Dogs have right now.

BobDawg

October 12th, 2011
12:08 am

Chip, Don’t you think the strong D is allowing Richt to be more aggressive with the overall gameplan? He seems energized and enjoying coaching again.

BobDawg

October 12th, 2011
12:15 am

@Bob good post . The 3/4 D eats up the LB and we will need them all down the stretch run

L.A. BULLDAWG

October 12th, 2011
12:21 am

WITH OGLETREE COMING BACK AND CORNELIUS WASHINGTON COMING OFF SUSPENSION, THE GATORS BETTER WATCH OUT! I HEARD GATOR MEAT IS GOOD, WHEN PRESSURIZED! LOL!