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Can the Georgia defense do a better job of getting to the quarterback in 2017?

Georgia football: Will any Bulldogs reach double-digit sacks in 2017?

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday.


Sacks should be up for Georgia this season

Georgia finished tied for 53rd in the nation in sacks last season with 29. It was a major improvement from finishing tied for 93rd in 2015 (21), but it was well off the pace of the elite pass-rushing defenses in college football (typically 40 or more sacks).

A big reason for Georgia’s relatively meager sack output is the lack of any single players carrying the load. Thirteen players had at least 1 sack in 2016, but Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Trent Thompson tied for the team lead with just 5. With all the other returning pass rushers, if two of those three can reach 10 more sacks, it stands to reason Georgia will reach 40 sacks.

Edward Aschoff of ESPN on Monday listed 11 players in the SEC he believes are capable of getting 10 sacks, and both Carter and Bellamy earned a spot. Here’s what Aschoff wrote about Carter:

Carter has all the talent to be a first-round pick, but he has had a very up-and-down Georgia career. He began his time in Athens with 4.5 sacks as a freshman, but had zero in 2015. Carter registered five last year, and he’s only getting better under Kirby Smart’s tutelage.

And Bellamy:

Like Carter, Bellamy checked out his NFL stock after last season. He also turned in five sacks in 2016. Both he and Carter have a chance at 10 sacks, and the play of one will certainly impact the other’s chances here. It’s a good problem for the Bulldogs to have.

I’m not sure about both of them reaching the 10-sack mark, but I have faith at least one of the two will. I’m of a mind that a rising tide lifts all boats in the pass rush. Every single player on Georgia’s front seven will be improved next season and have a better understanding of Kirby Smart’s scheme.

The more chaos that gets created, the more sacks there will be. I think we see Carter get around 10; Bellamy hang around in the high single digits; and Julian Rochester, Johnathan Ledbetter, David Marshall, and Daquan Hawkins-Muckle increase their outputs by a few sacks apiece this season.

Then there’s Thompson, who’s both the wild card and the crux of all this. Which Thompson will show up in 2017? The one got only 2.0 sacks during the regular season, or the one who dominated TCU and racked up 3.0 in the Liberty Bowl?

A steadier stream of production from Thompson could do wonders for the defensive line, and shoot his draft stock even higher. Only two defensive tackles got 10 or more sacks last season — Clemson’s Carlos Watkins (11) Alabama’s Johnathan Allen (11) — and they led the two best defenses in college football. If Thompson can get to 10, or even close to it, he’ll be one of the best defensive linemen in America, and there’s a good chance Georgia’s pass rush will be considered one of the best in America, too.

Georgia ranked in top 10 by Sporting News

Most preseason rankings I’ve seen this offseason have Georgia ranked somewhere in the teens, sometimes as high as 13th. But the new preseason rankings from Sporting News have Georgia slotted highest I’ve seen yet, No. 10. Here’s Bill Bender of Sporting News:

Georgia’s spring game attendance was down a little bit, but the excitement level is up heading into Kirby Smart’s second season. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both returned to school and are healthy, and that’s good news for Jacob Eason heading into his second season. Of course, Eason is going to be pushed in fall camp by Jake Fromm. These are nice problems to have for a team poised to compete for the SEC East championship.

Ryan Seacrest and Tituss Burgess Call the Dawgs

BRB. Getting feta fries.

ICYMI

Good dog

Lookin’ good, my dude.