Alec Ogletree is out four to six weeks with a broken foot suffered during the Bulldogs 35-21 loss to Boise State Saturday.
Talk about bad timing.
A week before the South Carolina Gamecocks and star running back Marcus Lattimore come to Athens, UGA lost their most irreplaceable defensive player, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree. Big things were expected of the sophomore in the middle of Georgia’s 3-4 defense this season. Instead, Ogletree will spend the next four to six weeks watching from the sidelines.
But wait, it gets worse for the Bulldogs. This week kicks of conference play for Georgia, and it starts with a bang. Going into only the second game of the season, UGA is starting with a huge game versus South Carolina that could make or break their hopes for an SEC East crown in 2011.
How will Ogletree’s injury affect the Bulldogs against the Gamecocks? It is not good, not good at all.
The Gamecocks star running back Marcus Lattimore shredded Georgia’s new 3-4 defense last season for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Lattimore has only gotten bigger and stronger (remember he was a true freshman last season), and is already off to a solid start with 112 yard and three touchdowns against ECU.
The question becomes, then, who will step in for Ogletree and help slow down Lattimore for the Bulldogs? The answer, unfortunately, is probably no one.
There is very little depth at the inside linebacker position for the Bulldogs this season. Competing for Ogletree’s spot are little-heard-of junior Michael Gilliard, walk-on Jeremy Sulek and true freshman Amarlo Herrera.
Regardless of who wins the starting job, they are going to have their hands full with Lattimore on Saturday. An extremely powerful back, Lattimore runs through defenders and gains tons of yards after contact. If he gets past the first level, look for Lattimore to start running through UGA defenders and dragging them for extra yards.
South Carolina and Lattimore will exploit Georgia’s weakened middle, and this should open up some good one-on-one opportunities out of play action for star receiver Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey probably would not need much help against a Georgia secondary that played poorly against Boise State, but he will get some anyway. Look for Jeffrey to have a big game as well.
It was already going to be a struggle for the Georgia defense to slow down the Gamecock offense. Now, with the loss of Ogletree, Saturday could be a very, very long afternoon for Todd Grantham and the Georgia defenders.