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Dan Lanning and Nolan Smith could make Georgia's defense better in 2019.

ESPN gives biggest reason why Georgia fans should be optimistic for 2019

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

ESPN very high on Georgia football defense

Georgia will have to replace its best defensive back, 2018 Jim Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker, it’s top pass rusher — D’Andre Walker racked up a team-best 7.5 sacks — and it’s top defensive lineman in Johnathan Ledbetter. Despite all of that, ESPN actually thinks there’s a very good chance that Georgia’s defense actually improves in 2019.

ESPN tasked its group of college football writers to give a reason for optimism for every top 25 team heading into 2019. Despite bringing back the likes of Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift on offense, Alex Scarborough actually thinks it’s Georgia’s defense that should get fans excited for the 2019 season.

“There are a few key seniors moving on, but don’t be surprised if the defense actually improves next season,” Scarborough wrote. “Only Deandre Baker is leaving a secondary that has a couple of nice anchors in J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte. Meanwhile, Jordan Davis and Julian Rochester are a couple of nice cornerstones on the line. Monty Rice might be the only sure thing returning at linebacker, but the addition of the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2019 class, Nolan Smith, could give coach Kirby Smart a plug-and-play pass-rusher.”

Georgia has brought in a number of 5-star prospects in the last two classes in addition to the aforementioned Smith  — who was the No. 1 player in  the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Georgia also signed the following 5-star prospects: Defensive end Brenton Cox, outside linebacker Adam Anderson, defensive tackle Travon Walker, inside linebacker Nakobe Dean, cornerback Tyson Campbell, cornerback Tyrique Stevenson.

The Bulldogs also bring back the likes of safety J.R. Reed, linebackers Monty Rice and Channing Tindal as well as defensive tackle Jordan Davis. One area where Georgia can certainly improve on defense is at pressuring the quarterback. The Bulldogs had only 24 sacks in 14 games, which was good for 12th in the conference. By comparison, Clemson had 54 in 2018 and Alabama had 45 sacks on the season.

Georgia has not yet named a defensive coordinator after Mel Tucker left for the Colorado job in December. The Bulldogs did hire Charlton Warren as the defensive backs coach, and made him the highest paid defensive backs coach in the country in 2019 at $600,000. Georgia could promote either inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann or outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning.

The Bulldogs open the 2019 season on Aug. 31 when Georgia visits Vanderbilt.

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