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Kirby Smart isn't thrilled with how his run defense looked on Saturday.

ESPN calls out Georgia’s most concerning weakness

Connor Riley

Around the Dawg House will bring you daily updates from what people and publications are saying about Georgia, from inside and outside of Athens. 

ESPN labels Georgia’s biggest weakness

Things seem to be going pretty well for the Georgia Bulldogs to start the 2018 season. They’ve put up 40 points in each of their first four games and have picked up two SEC road wins in that span. But not everything has been perfect, and ESPN has identified one area in which the Bulldogs need to improve.

ESPN put out a story labeling the biggest concern for each Top 25 team, and for the No. 2 Bulldogs it is their run defense.

“There’s a reason Kirby Smart was so upset after Saturday’s victory over Missouri,” Alex Scarborough wrote. “Sure, he appeared to be channeling his inner Saban with fury for fury’s sake. But it was more than that. His defense might have held Tigers quarterback Drew Lock to no touchdowns, but the run defense was less than stellar, allowing 172 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. That kind of effort won’t suffice in bigger games late in the season.”

Related: Only one way for Tennessee to contend at Georgia

For what it’s worth, Smart did seem to agree with that assessment as he voiced his concern with Georgia’s run defense at his press conference on Monday.

We didn’t play the run game real good last week, and that’s what we pride ourselves on, and we gotta do a better job of attacking the run and play the run,” Smart said. “At the end of the day stopping the run is an attitude and a disposition you create within your team, and we didn’t have that.”

When the Bulldogs take on Tennessee this week, they’ll face a Volunteers offense that has struggled to run the ball against Power Five foes. Tennessee averaged 3.39 yards per carry against West Virginia and an even worse 2.89 yards per carry against Florida. Unsurprisingly, Tennessee lost both of the games.

Against Missouri, Georgia allowed 4.65 yards per carry. For the Bulldogs to show improvement in their front 7, that number will have to be much lower.

Kirby Smart provides an update on Monty Rice

Part of the reason for Georgia’s poor showing against Missouri was because Georgia was without one of its top linebackers in Monty Rice. The sophomore linebacker missed the Missouri game with an MCL injury, which Smart confirmed after the game.

On Wednesday, appearing on the SEC Coaches conference call, Smart updated the status of Rice, which is still unknown

“We still don’t know if he’ll be back yet, but he’s a key cog,” Smart said.  “He plays with toughness, he likes contact, which is important in a game like this,”

In Georgia’s first three games, Rice totaled 17 tackles the most among Georgia’s linebackers. Should Rice not be able to go, Georgia will lean on seniors Natrez Patrick and Juwan Taylor and junior Tae Crowder at the inside linebacker spot.

Georgia takes on Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game can be seen on CBS and heard on WSB Radio 95.5 FM, 750 AM.

Georgia names its week 4 players of the week

Following the 43-29 win over the Tigers, Smart waited till Wednesday morning to name the Players of the Week. On offense, junior running back Elijah Holyfield got the honor. He once again led the Bulldogs in rushing as he finished with 91 yards on 14 carries. He was able to do this while the offensive line was shuffling players around as Andrew Thomas and Ben Cleveland both left the game due to injury.

On the defensive side of the ball, D’Andre Walker won. The senior outside linebacker added two more sacks to his name and forced two fumbles as well. He was nearly unblockable and a huge reason why Missouri quarterback Drew Lock never got into a rhythm on Saturday. Walker has all of Georgia’s sacks this season.

Eric Stokes ended up taking home the award for Special Teams Player of the Week. The redshirt freshmen blocked a punt which he then turned into a touchdown. Stokes also filled in some for Tyson Campbell on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.

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