Georgia Football: 5 Reasons the Bulldogs Defense Will Improve in 2013
No matter what happens with the players who are eligible to leave for the NFL Draft, the Bulldogs defense will be completely different next year.
But does that mean the defense will take two steps back?
Head coach Mark Richt doesn't think so because he thinks the defense will be very fast and very athletic.
Will that be enough to have better numbers next year? That's uncertain, but with the players they have to build around and the new players that are expected to make an impact, the defense has a great chance to be as good as it was in 2011.
Here are five reasons why the defense will improve in 2013.
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Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones will go down as two of the best linebackers in UGA history, so replacing them will be a tough task.
However, the linebacker unit will be the strength of the team next year and Jordan Jenkins will be leading the way.
Jenkins showed signs that he can be as dominant of a player as Jones or Ogletree and he will have some athletic linebackers playing along side him such as Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson.
Learning from Jones and Ogletree will pay dividends for the linebackers and it will show on the field next season.
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The nose guard position will be one to watch because Kwame Geathers has not made a decision about the NFL.
But even if he comes back, he may not be the best defensive lineman.
Garrison Smith and Ray Drew are projected to be the starting defensive ends for the Bulldogs next year and they have a chance to be better than Abry Jones and DeAngelo Tyson.
Smith tallied 57 tackles and one sack in 2012. He has fit right into the 3-4 scheme and will only be better next year.
Drew played sparingly in 2012, but he showed signs that he is ready to be the player coaches hoped he would be coming out of high school.
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In 2013, the only defensive back that will have a significant amount of experience is Swann, who is not a bad person to have coming back.
Swann had two interceptions in the Capital One Bowl and ended the season leading the team in picks with four.
He was able to beat out Branden Smith for the starting job midway through the season and never looked back.
He will only get better in 2013 which will help the other defensive backs be better as well.
The Young Athletes
The expectations for the defense in 2012 were high because it did a lot of good things in 2011 and virtually the whole unit came back.
Things did not work out that way and the defense took a step back.
So with a new group coming in that's just as talented as the old group, the chance of improvement is great.
Players like Jonathan Taylor, Sheldon Dawson, Cory Moore, James DeLoach and Josh Harvey-Clemons are expected to do big things for the Bulldogs.
Some have not seen action on the field, while some saw little action and were able to hold their own.
These players were all highly recruited in high school and they would love nothing more than to show why they were considered some of the best prep players in the country.
Not a Rebuild
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Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham mentioned that the seniors and the starters that are leaving had some growing pains in the 3-4 system that was installed three years ago.
They got better as time went along and the new players that will see a lot of action next year will know what to do when they get on the field because they either learned from the seniors or are familiar with the 3-4 front from high school.
The defense in 2013 will have some growing pains because of new players that will be working together for the first time. But because of the familiarity with the system, they should, and will improve a lot quicker than the group that took the field in 2010.