The Georgia Bulldogs return pretty much everyone from an offense that dominated the SEC under coordinator Mike Bobo in 2012. However, Todd Grantham and his staff along the defensive side of the football will not have anything near that type of luxury come Fall 2013.
In fact, after watching Jarvis Jones compile the most sacks in the nation with 14.5, Alec Ogletree rack up a team-leading 111 tackles and John Jenkins make a mess of the line of scrimmage with his 350-plus pound frame, Grantham and Co. must go back to the drawing board. All three of these stars are headed to the NFL, and presumably to the first round.
Of course, coach Mark Richt wants to replenish the ranks through recruiting. However, there are some nice options already in Athens from which his staff may choose.
According to ESPN, only Garrison Atkins returns to the line in a starting capacity. However, the 6-foot-5, 285-pound Ray Drew is expected to push for the other starting defensive end position. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson would like to try to replace Jenkins at defensive tackle with the 6-foot-1, 302-pound Mike Thornton.
However, the way Wilson sees it, that is about three to six bodies too short.
“I want to play two deep,” Wilson told Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. “I want to play anywhere from six to eight guys in a game. That’s the only way I believe you get better. You get better by practicing, but you get even better by competing in SEC football games.
“You want guys who can really create disadvantages for the offense. The more guys you have like that from guys who can play on first down, second down, guys who can play on third downs, short yardage, it really builds depth. I think later on in the season when you have a chance to play in those SEC title-type games, you’ve got a really good group of guys who have been tested. I think it’s critical. That’s the only way you win is up front.”
Bulldogs expert David Ching reports that Chris Mayes, who spent the last two years in junior college after failing to qualify academically for the Dawgs in 2011 is finally on campus. So is 2012 Under Armour All-American John Atkins. Atkins spent one year at Hargrave Military Academy.
Finally, redshirt freshman Jonathan Taylor is 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds. If he cannot find a way onto the field under Wilson and his desire to play eight healthy bodies, it will be his own fault.
Grantham’s defense in 2013 does not have to be spectacular, but it has to be tenacious. Bobo’s offense under quarterback Aaron Murray is going to pile up the points, but too many 50-45 shootouts is not going to be fun for anyone — especially those voting in the AP and BCS Polls.