D-line provides hope, stability for Georgia’s defense

The return of John Jenkins at noseguard gives Georgia's defense reason for hope. (UGA photo by Jim Hipple)

The return of John Jenkins at noseguard gives Georgia's defense reason for hope. (UGA photo by Jim Hipple)

ATHENS – We know that Georgia will be missing a lot of pieces from its defense in the early going this coming season. But the Bulldogs won’t be missing some primary parts in the middle and that’s a big thing.

Pun intended.

Big John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers are back to man the middle from the noseguard position this fall. Not only are they present and accounted for this spring — by all accounts, they’ve managed to avoid the suspension bug that has been going around – but they’ve been playing at a high level.

“John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers are really, really coming on,” Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. “I’ve got to stay onto them about fundamentals and about steps, pad level, hand placement and just little things. . . . We may not be quite there, but I’ve been very, very, pleased with both kids.”

It can’t be overstated how important it is to have a large, athletic presence in the heart of Georgia’s 3-4 defense. Not only is it needed to create some penetration in the middle of the line, it’s critical to tie up blockers, which in turn frees up stunting and blitzing linebackers. Jenkins and Geathers were able to fill that bill nicely this past season.

Geathers (6-foot-6, 350 pounds) started the first four games, Jenkins (6-3, 343) started seven and the two players rotated liberally on the way to 42 combined tackles. By the end of the year Jenkins was dominant and finished with six tackles for loss and three quarterback sacks.

Georgia also returns senior starter Abry Jones at defensive end/tackle. But depth is an issue outside and a battle is on for the spot opposite Jones. Junior Garrison Smith is the heir apparent but the Bulldogs moved Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew down from outside linebacker in search of quality depth.

“It’s a transition,” said Washington, who said he now weighs more than 280 pounds. “I’m not going to say it’s the easiest thing in the world because it’s not. But I’m just trying to get used to it, trying to develop my skills at the different spots.”

Said Garner: “Obviously, the closer you get to the ball the more physical it is and the faster things happen. . . . I think the biggest thing is the physicality part of it, you know, they’re making that adjustment. But I definitely think there’s some guys there that can make it happen.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Mike Thornton (6-1, 287) has moved inside to back up Jenkins and Geathers as “a changeup” at nose.

“He just has an unfortunate deal in that he’s playing behind probably two of the biggest athletic men in college football,” Garner said of Thornton, a former AJC Super 11 selection out of Stone Mountain. “But I think Mike is getting better; I think he’s improving, I think he definitely has a role here on this team and will be a solid guy for us.”

As for the attrition the defense has had to endure — seven defensive players have been suspended, dismissed or transferred this year — Jenkins said nobody’s losing sleep over it.

“Man, to be honest with you, that stuff that’s going on, I try to be positive about it,” he said. “What happened, happened. Those suspensions are there. It’s not like we can just walk around with our heads down and be angry. The younger guys have got to get ready and look at it as an opportunity to step up. You can’t be annoyed or aggravated. It’s a team thing. At the end of the daywe’ve got to play.

NOTES: The Bulldogs practice was shortened Tuesday due to heavy thunderstorms that swept through about two-thirds of the way through their workout. They were able to finish inside the multi-purpose facility. . . .  Offensive lineman Dallas Lee (concussion), tailback Keith Marshall (pulled hamstring) and Drew (illness), were absent from practice. Tailback Richard Samuel also was not in attendance during the open periods but no one could say why. . . . Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (leg) and linebacker Amarlo Herrera (shoulder) practiced in non-contact jerseys. . . . Former Bulldogs Akeem Dent (Atlanta Falcons) and Darryl Gamble (San Diego Chargers) attended Tuesday’s practice. . . . Also in attendance was former UGA line coach and UAB head coach Neil Callaway.

121 comments Add your comment

DawgNation

April 3rd, 2012
8:41 pm

Great read. Thanks Chip.

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
8:43 pm

Omg! Really?

bwell

April 3rd, 2012
8:45 pm

With all the suspensions…….. The denfense should be fresh when they all return during week 5.

hipdawg

April 3rd, 2012
8:47 pm

I would like to go one week w/out bad news.but it is is not going to happen I guess.What is going on?We better win the east atleast.(if we have enough players left)

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
9:05 pm

Chip
Thanks for the fix. Was about to lose it with golf and basketball coverage. Still lots of questions on the OL, but coach Friend was very guarded with his answers. Glad to be on the DL. The battle for the other end position will be interesting to say the least. I would think Washington has the early lead but I’m looking for Drew to become a DGD. Keep us informed on the outcome of this competition. Our NGs will make many interior lineman very uncomfortable this year. If CTG can corral the rest of his D. this year, we may be able to play some SEC football. I’m still waiting on your special teams report. Really enjoyed the article …

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
9:22 pm

Sounds like a lot of beef on the line. Who’s faster, Smith or Washington? Before this season is over, I think the Rev. will be a regular disruptive force. J.J. should have another huge year, especially with our new speed coach we picked up this year. I think the speed coach may make a large impact this year…

Grantham's the man

April 3rd, 2012
9:28 pm

Sounds like Big John Jenkins has his head on straight.

If Ga can get passed Mizzou and I think they will, then the early playing time for the backup players will pay dividends toward the end of the season when quality depth will be needed and for next season when Ga will lose alot of the defense to the NFL.

Hope

April 3rd, 2012
9:28 pm

Hope is they all pass the “test” and are still with the team come fall.

bucket

April 3rd, 2012
9:31 pm

I’m sure all those with “UGA Obsession Syndome” will be along to tell us why UGA has no hope in just a little while. Looking forward to seeing Jenkins and Geathers @ G-Day!

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
9:36 pm

When I said J.J., I meant Jarvis will have another big year if he becomes anyhow faster than he already is. Big John will have a big year too but I don’t know how much a speed coach can help a 350 Pounder …

FredoFalcon

April 3rd, 2012
9:40 pm

This poor defense gave up 39 points a game against ranked teams.

11th in the SEC.

Against ranked teams:
very few sacks
very few tackles for loss
0 fumble recoveries
12th in red zone percentage

LOTS to work on.

Can’t be worse than 39 points a game, like last season.

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
9:45 pm

Chip
After the special teams interview, how about an interview with our new speed coach? Then back to the RBs, OLs, etc…No vacation for you buddy.LOL..

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 3rd, 2012
9:57 pm

anybody even know the secondary depth chart right now?? figure to have smith & commings by game 3…unsure who’ll start first 2. still perplexed as to the transfer of DBs, especially with all the suspensions. there’s your playing time right there!!!

loves Georgia

April 3rd, 2012
10:03 pm

Last years defense was great. If the offense and special teams had held their own (no pick sixes and fake punts for touchdowns) we could have gone undefeated. Georgia’s strict drug polices are helping to protect our players. The other schools that do not drug test or let them fail many drug tests without suspensions, do not care about their players. They are the win at all costs programs. If players can get high with little or no penalties they with do it at a higher rate than players that will be tested and lose playing time. If we had everyone testing at the same level you would be assured all schools would have issues. I know Georgia players are NOT worse cases than the alabama and LSU of the world.

Lakedawg

April 3rd, 2012
10:10 pm

With that nucleas and adding Jordan Jenkins, Jonathon Taylor, Josh H/C, and John Atkins., have to love the D-Line

Mountain Dawg

April 3rd, 2012
10:38 pm

Has there EVER been a time when Wooten was not injured?

look at it this way

April 3rd, 2012
10:53 pm

if the transfers weren’t in the playing rotation with the suspended guys gone, then they weren’t going to play anyway.

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

LovesGa.
Didn’t the bamma fans tell ya? They’re players never do anything wrong. You really have to be in Saban’s dog-house or get arrested in another state to actually be suspended. They don’t have to drug test their players because the players pinky-promised the coaches that they wouldn’t do drugs. Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if all schools had the same drug policy? I would also like all coaches, assistants, administrators, staff, secretaries, professors and students also tested at an independent testing facility just to make it fair. I’m all about fair, don’t you know …

Kingdaddy

April 3rd, 2012
11:09 pm

Why doesn’t someone do an article on the difference between Alabama law-enforcement ( oxymoron ), and Georgia’s finest (another oxymoron )??? Georgia Po-Pos could learn a lot from their Bamma brethren. LOL.

not good

April 3rd, 2012
11:14 pm

I love our Defense….the team is annoying me, but the Defense is doing what it can, and plays with heart. That’s all I ask for. That and no more 3rd and 20 running plays

Russell Hall

April 3rd, 2012
11:28 pm

Thanks, Chip. Keep the reports coming.

Go Dawgs!!

Cdpridg

April 3rd, 2012
11:38 pm

Love it!!!!! Get’em Dawgs!!!

DISNEYdawgs.com RICHT-0-PHILES

April 3rd, 2012
11:43 pm

Neil Callaway ?

Oh, just great. Now we are taking advice from Neil Callaway – Mark Richt, son, you are desperate – now.

Neil Callaway was fired as UAB’s head coach on November 27, 2011, having compiled a record of 18 wins and 42 losses during his five years with the Blazers (18–42).[

“The Bulldogs practice was shortened Tuesday due to heavy thunderstorms” – er uh no, practice was shortened AGAIN because with the 2nd most profits in all of college football only to Texas, we categorically refuse to build ourselves and indoor full field practice field.

Let’s see now 57 scholarships signed by Mark Richt on Scholarship remaining, today. 16 scholarships at most coming in in the Fall. 73. Let’s see

Mark Richt has never had an NCAA PROBATION

There is no NCAA PROBATION which takes away 12 Scholarships for one year. Mark Richt has SELF-IMPOSED The Georgia Bulldogs’ Football team with double-nay-triple-secret NCAA PROBATION 12 Lost Scholarships…

…wait for it now – and, counting.

RED DOG 77

April 3rd, 2012
11:49 pm

This might sound strange to some, but to me, reading Dallas Lee already has a concussion says alot about the Bulldogs attitude…………..and that perhaps Them Dawgs are ………..GATA………Young players will step-up and get us through the first four games…………and after that………..Watch-out SEC…………….2012 Should be a very interesting year…………….RED

Chip Towers

April 4th, 2012
12:46 am

DISNEYdawgs.com . . . I warned you about rumormongering and excessively long, combative posts.

Kingdaddy

April 4th, 2012
1:40 am

Chip what are you do up so late? 24/7?

Gravy Train

April 4th, 2012
2:00 am

Garrison Smith is going to be a playmaker at DE. He’s fast and best of all he is high energy. Dude could’ve easily signed with Tech. His brother played there for Gailey. Then along comes Turkey Neck who makes the elder Smith change positions, seriously cutting playing time, forcing a transfer situation. There was a falling out between Turkey Neck and the Smith family. Garrison signs with UGA. Tech had the inside track. This is but one example of the recruiting prowess of one Paul Johnson. Last year, Garrison posted double digits in tackles against Tech. He even mixed in a few TFL’s for good measure.

Kingdaddy

April 4th, 2012
2:08 am

I went on the Will Friend site the other night and almost all the S.C.Trolls were there trashing another GA.site. I had just left the Fish that got away site that was being trashed by almost all the Alabama Trolls. There weren’t that many GA. fans left on either site. The post were not about the articles but were mostly just garbage against CMR. Same Trolls, same song and dance. This is happening on every article, a hijacked article by the same people over and over. GA.fans are leaving. Why doesn’t AJC just open a Alabama and a S.C. site so GA fans aren’t constantly attacked? ??

Gravy Train

April 4th, 2012
2:08 am

Disneydawgs: There will be plenty of room for you down at the Trade School home games for ya. Plenty of seats will be available for every home game right up to game time. Have at it “son.”

Hairy Dawg

April 4th, 2012
3:11 am

This is exactly what I wants to hearing. Our D line is goning be where the Big Dawgs Eat! With the DL controlling games well smash through East and laughing stock teams that can’t get out of own way do to no talent in players and sorry coaching. The we get a chance to embareass Bungle Tigers and smack, sack, and attack Zack “Benedict Arnold” Metzenburger. Or we get a chance to flush Tidey Bowl Roll down the john.

Mr. SEC

April 4th, 2012
3:40 am

sounds like another year of the defense stepping up to save the day for the dogs, Grantham will get the job done, Bobo SOS!

Kingdaddy

April 4th, 2012
5:34 am

Good Morning Doggies and Trolls…

Kingdaddy

April 4th, 2012
6:00 am

Trolls
Remember a lot of points were given up by Not-So-Special Teams and turn-overs in the red-zone. Not all those points belong to the defense, when you start spinning the stats like you keep doing …

Jimmy Crack

April 4th, 2012
7:18 am

Monsters in the middle clogging up the run game. There are going to be some raw QBs playing in the SEC this year and these guys will be making teams face alot of 3rd and longs.

Texas Dawg

April 4th, 2012
7:45 am

Before anyone says I’m a troll….I’m a die hard UGA fan 1st and foremost!

I do agree that on paper the defense looks good……I do have to agree that 40 points a game to ranked teams WILL NOT GET IT DONE!!!!!!!!!! WE LOOK GREAT vs CUP CAKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MURRY to this point has meltdowns against ranked teams……….hasn’t beat NOT ONE RANKED teams by years end…….

I LOVE MY DOGS!!!!!!!!!!!! I EXPECT and WANT BETTER…….with the talent we get there is no reason we can’t do better…………………….A true dog fan wants more and expects better!

dawgdon

April 4th, 2012
7:45 am

I agree that our d-line is the key for our success on defense. Jenkin and Geathers are going to be great. Abry Jones @ de will make a name for himself this year. If you want to watch a fundamentally sound de watch Abry. I predict that he will again lead the d-line in tackles and sacks.

dawgfan

April 4th, 2012
8:26 am

“Oh, just great. Now we are taking advice from Neil Callaway – Mark Richt, son, you are desperate – now.”

Are you serious? I would kill to have Callaway back coaching our O-line. It has been a total disaster since he left. I find it interesting that he sat in on a practice. Richt should invite every O-line coach in the nation to our practices, from high school all the way up to the NFL. We need all the help we can get.

Thanks.

DePort

April 4th, 2012
8:33 am

Re-Look at the game that the “other” team scored over 40 … Our defense gave up like 3 TDs… Murray threw for 3 more … soo lets not put the LSU game soley on the defense …

DePort

April 4th, 2012
8:34 am

Last year LSU had some hefty suspensions and look how they turned out… Lets not sink the ship just yet… we havent even finish the spring yet!

DIT

April 4th, 2012
8:42 am

Everyone up for just keeping it civil today?

For me, I’m not too worried about the defense. Even with the suspensions I feel we can hold our own. Mizzou will be tough, but very winnable. I do feel that we are fortunate not to have SC in the 1st 4 games this year.
We will need a full defense with some new twists & winkles for that game. That will be our toughest game of the year. SC will be a very good defensive team. Not hearing much of the offense. To the SC posters, how are you feeling about your offense? Big improvements or moderate? Thanks

DIT

April 4th, 2012
8:48 am

LSU game is in the past. I give them their credit that is due to them AND Bama for that matter. Why relive that game. The great thing about this fall is that it’s an entirely new season and anything can happen. What other team do is not my concern. My main concern is our strength conditioning, Special teams and O-Line. Also, the maturity of Murray because their can not be anymore excuses for him being that he now has 2 years under his belt. The improvements on his choices must be greatly improved or look for another QB to step in and make those changes. I hope he has a great year against the ranked teams. Hard to say until he proves it.

I-DOG

April 4th, 2012
9:16 am

Disneydogs.com’s post didn’t seem that bad to me. Maybe there was another one that was already deleted by the time I read through this since Chip referenced Rumormongering in the disney dog post.

some were commenting on the D backs that transferred and I believe they did so BEFORE the suspensions started in the defensive backfield. I think a guy like Jordan Love, saw that in his final years at UGA, he wasn’t going to get on the field. Of course, a couple of months later several players were thrown off the team and others suspended at his position so he could have probably started the first 3 games if he had stayed, but he didn’t know that at the time.

Dawg Haus

April 4th, 2012
9:38 am

Gotta love Big John! He and Kwame are doing outstanding work at nose.

RHall55

April 4th, 2012
9:54 am

Like the sound of this article; let some young bucks play: TJ Stripling, Dexter Morant, Mike Thornton, J Taylor, J Jenkins, etc!! With all the scholarships we had to offer, why didn’t CRG go after more Juco’s? Remember Corey Irvin and Jarius Wynne???? Why not more of those guys? Instant contributors!! Manage that roster!! C’mon Man: “Win, Baby, Win”!!1

Football Guy

April 4th, 2012
10:01 am

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………..
…………………………………………………
………………

Nothing Could Be Finer

April 4th, 2012
10:16 am

DIT

April 4th, 2012
8:42 am
Everyone up for just keeping it civil today?

For me, I’m not too worried about the defense. Even with the suspensions I feel we can hold our own. Mizzou will be tough, but very winnable. I do feel that we are fortunate not to have SC in the 1st 4 games this year.
We will need a full defense with some new twists & winkles for that game. That will be our toughest game of the year. SC will be a very good defensive team. Not hearing much of the offense. To the SC posters, how are you feeling about your offense? Big improvements or moderate? Thanks

————————————————–
Offense will struggle early on.

Best WR is 5-foot-7 Ace Sanders.

O-line will be pretty good; i.e. one notch up from mediocre.

Good thing the dogs are like week 6 because its gonna take some time for the offense to get going.

DIT

April 4th, 2012
10:21 am

@Finer
Sounds like y’all are about like us. The big question marks are on Offense. Y’all are lucky because Spurrier calls your plays. Edge SC. I did not realize your WR corps were that small? I think that game will be the best game for the SEC East during the year. Both defenses will be playing great by that game so I would expect a very low scoring game. The defense will win that game.

[...] Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previews Georgia’s defensive line. [...]

Nothing Could Be Finer

April 4th, 2012
10:30 am

DIT,

SC’s WR’s are on the smaller side. And you’re right, it will be a low scoring game.

6 DeAngelo Smith | 6-1, 196, Jr., 1V
11 Lamar Scruggs | 6-2, 225, Jr., 1V
8 Shamier Jeffery | 6-1, 214, Fr., RS

82 D.L. Moore | 6-5, 198, Sr., 3V
10 Nick Jones | 5-7, 184, So., 1V
80 K.J. Brent | 6-4, 184, Fr., RS

1 Ace Sanders | 5-7, 175, Jr., 2V
3 Damiere Byrd | 5-9, 168, So., 1V

Nothing Could Be Finer

April 4th, 2012
10:33 am

Shaq Roland, SC’s top WR recruit will enroll this summer but it usually takes freshmen WR’s a few games to “get it”.

I’m thinking he’ll start to produce around the Ga game.