Since the 2007 Sugar Bowl Championship season, the Georgia defense has been steadily getting worse. In their memorable 2007 season, the Bulldogs allowed only 262 points against a legitimately difficult schedule. They played with passion and always excited the fans.
Last season the Georgia Defense allowed 295 points against a much less difficult schedule that included Idaho State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
In the past, when UGA had a dominating defense, they intimidated the opposition through a tough front seven. With immense speed and hard hitting athletes at every defensive position, rival offensive coordinators struggled to establish any consistent success.
Fortunately for UGA fanatics, the 2011 defensive front seven shows the potential to be the best in years.
As is the case with any defense, it all starts with the line. Since Georgia runs a 3-4 defense, this line consists of three men.
The nose guard lines up over the center and gets double teamed practically every play. Georgia will have John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers playing that role. Both are extremely large guys that can take up space and demand a double team.
The two defensive ends should be DeAngelo Tyson and Abry Jones with Derrick Lott and Garrison Smith spelling them. Their only real job is to stop the run and take up blockers on passing plays, and they will have no problem accomplishing that job.
The defensive line should be adequate, but the linebackers will be exceptional. The heart of every defense is the linebackers. UGA will have a myriad of special ones this year.
The starting outside linebackers should be Jarvis Jones and Cornelius Washington with Ray Drew, Rueben Faloughi and Sterling Bailey rotating in.
Coming out of Carver High School in 2009, Jarvis Jones was one of the top prospects in the country. After a short time at the University of Southern California, he is back in the Peach State. He is a great athlete and should be able to use his elite ability to establish a good pass rush from the strong side.
Cornelius Washington has the biggest shoes on the team to fill. He has to replace Justin Houston, an All-SEC linebacker. He is 6’4”, 270 pounds and was recorded as running a 4.3 forty-yard dash time. His exceptional athletic ability should allow him to be an exceptional pass rusher.
And of course everyone knows Ray Drew. As the top weak-side defensive end of this year’s recruiting class, he should rotate in, especially on passing situations. He will only improve as the season continues. Look for Drew to become a sack specialist by the end of the season.
Finally, there are the middle linebackers. Many are considering them a weakness, but actually, the opposite is true. The three main guys that will be rotating into the two starting spots are Christian Robinson, Alec Ogletree and Richard Samuel.
Robinson was a consistent starter for UGA in 2010. At 6’2” and 225 pounds, he is slightly undersized but suitable. He will add valuable experience to the crew.
Alec Ogletree will be a star at linebacker. He was able to thrive at safety last season but was needed at linebacker this year. Though a tad skinny to be a middle linebacker, he will make up for it with raw athleticism. He is a ridiculously hard-hitting athlete that should be a huge upgrade in the pass defense. Ogletree could be an All-SEC linebacker in 2011.
The final inside linebacker that should make an impact is Richard Samuel. He was a top caliber high school player that UGA recruited to play running back. After an unsuccessful attempt at tailback, he was redshirted and converted to inside linebacker. He is an extremely athletic player and also a hard hitter. Look for Samuel to be a solid contributor and add excitement to the rotation.
The 2011 defensive front seven should be much improved in 2011. For the first time in years, they appear to be a group of guys that are extremely passionate about winning. With their speed and hard hitting ability, UGA should have one of the best front sevens in the SEC.