This time a year ago, expectations were fairly high for outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. He had been tabbed a breakout player following Georgia’s spring practice and the Bulldogs had a need at the outside linebacker position following the departure of D’Andre Walker.
Ojulari mostly lived up to the hype as he went on to lead the team in sacks with 5.5. It was a strong start for a player in his first real college football season. Ojulari redshirted in 2018 as he recovered from a knee injury he suffered during his senior year in high school.
But heading into the 2020 campaign, Georgia is going to need Ojulari, as it asks of every member on its team, to do more. It needs Ojualri to make the leap from a very good player to a great player. It needs him to go from a pass rusher that every Georgia fan knows to a pass rusher that every SEC fan knows.
If there’s one critique you could have of the Georgia defense from a season ago it comes in the sacks and tackles for loss department. Georgia ranked 46th in the country in sacks and 60th in tackles for loss. The four teams that made the College Football Playoff all ranked in the top 25 of both of those categories.
Ojulari on his own isn’t going to help Georgia make up the difference in sacks and tackles for loss. It’s going to take a group effort to get to where the Bulldogs need to be from a pass-rushing standpoint. But of that group, Ojulari might be the Justin Timberlake. It needs him to carry the biggest load.
So how does Ojulari do that? If he can go from say 5.5 sacks to 8.5, just three more sacks over the course of the season, it could go a long way in boosting both his own profile and that out of the outside linebackers. The Bulldogs will need Jermaine Johnson, Nolan Smith and others to chip in as well.
But if Ojulari, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, is racking up more sacks, that draws more attention to him, and away from other Georgia defenders. That should allow them to help make up the difference between a 31 sacks season, which Georgia had last year, and a 40 sack season.
In addition to discussing the importance of Ojulari, DawgNation’s Connor Riley discusses on a number of other topics, such as the latest on Georgia’s return to the field, some recruiting updates as well as a look at some of the position battles coming this fall.
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