Georgia’s defensive line has a lot riding on it — and a lot to prove in 2018
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Depth chart breakdown: Defensive line
In college football, defensive lines win championships. If Georgia wants to perennially earn a place in the College Football Playoff and compete for a national title, it needs a D-line that is as deep as it is talented. Kirby Smart knows this well, which is why you should take him seriously when he voices concerns about the state of Georgia’s defensive front.
The biggest issue with the defensive line is that it’s top heavy. Each member of the starting front three is proven and could be All-SEC. After that, however, it’s a whole lot of meh. The backups are long on potential but short on production. So far, at least.
A talented first-team defensive line simply doesn’t cut it at the top level of college football these days. That unit needs to go two or three deep to keep up with no-huddle offenses and be able to survive a long, draining season. So something needs to give here for Georgia to make this season as successful as the last.
Smart already has brought in one graduate transfer lineman, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a spare offensive lineman or two shipped over to the defense. Ultimately, Georgia has who it has. There’s no magic spell that can fix the potential problems brewing. There are just a bunch of unproven Dawgs. It’s incumbent on them to step and render any concerns about them as unwarranted.
This post is part of an ongoing series breaking down Georgia’s post-spring depth chart position by position. For links to the other posts in this series, check the bottom of this section.
- Jonathan Ledbetter (Senior) — Ledbetter is the senior leader of the defensive line and one of its best players. If he improves his pass rushing, he could have a breakout season.
- David Marshall (Junior) — Marshall been on the periphery of the defensive line for a while and was solid in relief of Ledbetter last season. But I get the sense he has another gear he hasn’t found quite yet.
- Malik Herring (Sophomore) — Herring played in every game his freshman season and gained a lot of valuable experience. More should be asked of him as a sophomore.
- Tyler Clark (Junior) — Clark made his star turn last season and enters this one as Georgia’s top overall defensive linemen. If he again progresses that much as a junior, he’ll finish 2018 as one of the best in the SEC.
- Jay Hayes (Graduate) — Nothing did more to assuage concerns about the defensive line this spring than Hayes’ decision to transfer to Georgia. The former Notre Dame player gives the Dawgs an immediate injection of depth and talent. Learn the name, because Hayes figures to be a major player this season.
- Devonte Wyatt (Freshman) — Wyatt, originally a Class of 2017 signee, joined the team during bowl season and thus has a slight advantage even over his fellow early enrollees. Keep an eye on him to assert himself in the rotation.
- Michail Carter (Junior) — Carter is another talented guy who hasn’t figured it out at Georgia for whatever reason, and he’s running out of chances.
- Tramel Walthour (Freshman) — It was reported this spring that Walthour will take a grayshirt if Georgia can’t make its scholarship numbers work, but that has since come into dispute. If he does make it to Athens this fall, expect him to arrive with a significant chip on his shoulder.
- Julian Rochester (Junior) — Rochester replaces John Atkins, who quietly played a huge role on defense for years. He’s more athletic than Atkins, who was used as a space eater, so Mel Tucker and Smart could find some interesting ways to use him that are outside a UGA nose tackle’s typical duties.
- DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle (Senior) — Hawkins-Muckle is built more like a traditional nose, and he’ll find plenty of work eating blocks and opening lanes for other rushers.
- Micahel Barnett (Junior) — Barnett was injured for a chunk of spring and missed valuable reps that could have solidified him further up the depth chart.
- Jordan Davis (Freshman) — Unless Davis comes to Athens this fall and plays better than expected, he’s headed for a redshirt.
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Ins & Outs
The offseason shuffling of Georgia’s roster continued Monday with the announcement of one transfer into the program as well as one transfer out of it.
Former Murray State punter Landon Stratton will join the Dawgs as a graduate transfer, which means he’ll be eligible to play this season. This addition immediately calls to mind Cameron Nizialek, a former no-name graduate punter who transferred to Georgia to great success last season. The specialist grad transfer is becoming somewhat of a trend at Georgia. Along with Nizialek and kicker David Marvin, Stratton is the third special teams grad transfer Smart has brought to Athens in the last year.
Going the other way is Caleeb Roberson, who joined the team as a preferred walk-on in 2016.
Adam Sasser named National POTW
Georgia baseball junior first baseman Adam Sasser earned SEC and National Player of the Week honors for one of the best weeks from a Diamond Dog we’ve seen in some time. Sasser went 7-for-13 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI to lead Georgia to a sweep of Missouri. His 3 homers in a 10-6 win Thursday tied a Georgia single-game record.
Then Diamond Dogs (33-14) face Georgia Tech (27-21) Tuesday night at SunTrust Park. It’s the final contest of a three-game season series with the Jackets, the first two going to Georgia.
Graduation day for 83 UGA athletes
Eighty-three UGA athletes graduated last Friday as part of the Class of 2018. Check here for a full list of Bulldogs who earned degrees this spring.
Odds & Ends
- Will money and team-apparel influences expose college football to more corruption?
- Why that ‘Big 6’ nickname fits Georgia target Jammie Robinson so well
- Georgia forward Yante Maten invited to NBA scouting combine
- 5-star QBs Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence team up for offseason workout
Dawgs on Twitter
This @BaseballUGA is a lot fun to watch. They keep getting better and better. You can see them at Sun Trust Park Tuesday night vs Tech. Gates open at 5. First pitch at 7. It will be ELECTRIC in that Stadium!! Go Dawgs!
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) May 8, 2018
— Georgia Women's Golf (@UGAWomensGolf) May 7, 2018
This is the week. 🙌
— Georgia Tennis (@UGAtennis) May 7, 2018
How am I just hearing about this?
there is a type of wild dog called the Racoon Dog and it is real and a dog but it looks like this pic.twitter.com/yqH7YXilHK
— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) May 7, 2018
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