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Opponent Defense Preview: Georgia Bulldogs

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I’m looking for weak spots here and... I’m not finding any.

NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We complained yesterday about all the “or” designations on Vanderbilt’s depth chart. But at least Vanderbilt actually released a depth chart. Georgia hasn’t released one, or at least not one that I can find anywhere. That mostly just annoys me, and now I can see why media types complain about depth chart gamesmanship. Does Kirby Smart just want to make journalists’ jobs harder? And that’s me, lawyer blogging about Vanderbilt football in his spare time and not an actual journalist.

Anyway, that leaves me trying to figure this thing out myself. Fortunately for me, Georgia has a bunch of starters back on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, Georgia has a bunch of starters back on the defensive side of the ball.

Up front, Georgia’s defensive line returns 6’5”, 300-pound senior nose guard Julian Rochester (11 starts in 2018.) Beside him, the Bulldogs have 6’4”, 300-pound senior Tyler Clark (10 starts), in addition to 6’6”, 330-pound Jordan Davis, 6’4”, 304-pound senior Michael Barnett, and 6’3”, 280-pound junior Malik Herring — rotational guys last year who project for bigger roles this season. The returnees are scary enough by themselves, but 6’5”, 290-pound freshman Travon Walker — a five-star recruit, because of course — is also joining the mix up front for Georgia. This is the unit that a Vanderbilt offensive line breaking in a couple of new starters will be tasked with facing in its first game.

Things don’t really get any better in the second level. Veteran linebackers Monty Rice (59 tackles in 2018) and Tae Crowder (53 tackles) return, as does part-time starter Walter Grant (21 tackles.) And then... well, then, there are even more five-stars. You know, because what Georgia really needed was more talent. Nolan Smith — the #1 overall recruit in the 247 Sports composite — and fellow five-star Nakobe Dean will push for early playing time. They also added the nation’s top JUCO recruit in 6’6”, 250-pound Jermaine Johnson from Independence CC.

Georgia’s defensive backfield, thankfully, does not have any five-stars joining the mix this season... just, you know, three returning starters. The safeties — junior Richard Lecounte and senior J.R. Reed — are excellent, and Tyson Campbell started ten games as a freshman last season. Redshirt sophomore Eric Stokes — who started four games late in the season — rounds out the group.

I’m not going to mince words here: this is going to be a tough defense to crack. It’s a unit that gave up 19.2 ppg last season and doesn’t have any obviously huge losses — in fact, there aren’t many losses at all. And whatever holes did pop up are getting filled with four- and five-stars. There’s a reason this team is ranked #3 in the country.

So of course Ke’Shawn Vaughn will run for over 200 yards on this defense, because that’s just how these things work.