A solid defense is key for any team to win consistently.
The Georgia Bulldogs come into the 2013 season with a lot of questions on defense, but there is no doubt the talent is there.
What they have to do is to develop chemistry quickly because with 12 starters gone from last season, there will be times where things won’t go their way. But if the playmakers are able to come through when needed, the defense for the Bulldogs will never break and this team will have a legitimate shot of winning the SEC championship.
Here are the five best playmakers on defense for the Bulldogs.
This pick is based on potential, but if there is player on defense that is poised to have a breakout season, it’s Harvey-Clemons.
Because of his one-game suspension, the sophomore safety will not see action in the Clemson game. But he will have plenty of opportunities to show that Bulldog nation why the coaching staff was so high on him the last two years.
After paying his dues with the scout team last year, Harvey-Clemons is ready to take the next step.
He had a very strong spring as he was named Defensive MVP. The coaches hope he can build on it starting in September when he makes his 2013 debut against South Carolina.
Smith is the only returning defensive lineman that has significant playing experience.
The senior defensive end started in eight games and tallied 57 tackles, one sack and nine quarterback hurries.
When Smith took the place of an injured Abry Jones midway through the season, the Bulldogs defense improve as it averaged 8.6 points allowed per game in the team’s last five games.
Smith has flown under the radar the last two years because guys like John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers have garnered all the attention on the defensive line. But in order for the defensive line to be strong, Smith has to play at a high level.
The secondary is a huge question mark for the Bulldogs because there is almost no experience with the group.
However, Swann is back and he’s coming off a very productive 2012 season.
Swann led the team with four interceptions including two against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. He also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and notched two sacks to go along with his 58 tackles.
Swann went from nickel corner to No. 1 corner in a three-year span. He has earned the trust of his teammates when it comes to being the leader of the secondary.
If Swann continues to improve, he could emerge as one of the three best cornerbacks in the conference.
If there was an unsung hero on defense last year, Hererra would be that guy.
As one of the few players on defense with any experience, Hererra will be looked at as the leader of the group and he should have no problems accepting that role.
Herrera is coming off a year where he recorded 70 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interception returned for a touchdown. Not bad for someone who started nine games last year.
Herrera has a mean streak to him and the defense will need that if they want to earn the respect of the rest of the conference this season.
That could be the reason why Shawn Williams publicly said last season that Herrera should never leave the field. (h/t SBNation)
One of the players that came out of nowhere last year was Jenkins who tallied five sacks in six starts.
Jenkins has the chance to be what Jarvis Jones was the last two years which is being an impact pass-rusher.
In fact, Jenkins has personally set a goal to get 10 sacks this year, which is likely because since 10 Grantham became defensive coordinator three years ago, there has been at least one player to get 10 or more sacks in a season.
Herrera may be the leader of the defense, but Jenkins has to be the top playmaker in order for the unit to succeed. Jenkins does not have to be as good as Jones, but if he can be an impact player on the edge, the defense will be better in 2013 than it was in 2012.