ATHENS — Jamon Dumas-Johnson is his own toughest critic. The Georgia defensive leader helps hold everyone on the defense accountable, and he is no exception.
“I been playing okay. I don’t feel like I’ve been playing up to the standard, the way I could play,” Dumas-Johnson said. “My teammates keep me high, my coaches keep me high, so it’s okay. I’ve got to clean up some eye control stuff, it’s been getting me here and there. Things like that … The past few weeks, practice has been a slow start for me. It definitely translate to the games. You can see it, and you can feel it. Some weeks in practice, I’m feeling good, feeling hype and in that game, I go crazy. Walking through practice, which you shouldn’t do, leads to a bad game, and I’ve definitely seen that happen the last few weeks. I agree, practice hasn’t been my best the last few weeks, but you can only look forward.”
The numbers paint a more rosy picture than what Dumas-Johnson depicts. He finished with eight tackles on Saturday against Kentucky and ranks second on the team in that mark.
The Georgia run defense also continues to be one of the best in the country. The Bulldogs give up just 83 yards a game, good for third nationally. In consecutive games against Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kentucky, all four finished the game with 100 rushing yards or fewer.
Dumas-Johnson deserves some credit for that. Even if his on-field play isn’t up to his assuredly high standards, he’s quick to point out how well fellow inside linebacker Smael Mondon has played in recent weeks.
He led the team in tackles against Kentucky with 11. In the first quarter, Mondon had consecutive short-yardage stops to halt a Kentucky drive. If Dumas-Johnson is seen as the brains of the GEorgia defense, Mondon is the brawn, even though both linebackers check all the boxes you would want.
“He’s just put on a show. Run cover, hit,” Dumas-Johnson said. “Like I always say he’s everything you’d want in a linebacker. Relentless, physical, smart, fast big. That’s what Smael is.”
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Georgia coach Kirby Smart agreed with Dumas-Johnson’s assessment of his own recent play. When you’re following in the footsteps of Nakobe Dean — who Dumas-Johnson still chats with though more about life than the ins and outs of football — you have a lot to live up to.
Dumas-Johnson knows this. He wants to meet the challenge that comes with being a linebacker at Georgia, just as he would want to pop a running back coming through a hole.
“He’s also the signal caller, the one that gets the signal and tells people what to do. And he holds people accountable, you know, including himself,” Smart said. “He hasn’t had some of his best games and best weeks of practices here recently. But yet he still holds himself to a high standard, and he acknowledges that he can do better. When you have a guy at that position that thinks that way, it’s good hardwiring for your defense.”
Georgia just wrapped up its most difficult stretch of the season, playing and beating four teams that will all play in bowl games. The stretch ahead for Georgia though will be considerably tougher. Following the game against Georgia Tech, a matchup with LSU awaits. Then potentially the College Football Playoff, should the Bulldogs keep winning.
The Bulldogs are going to need their leader to be at the top of his game.
“The doubters trying to doubt this defense, that’s them with a chip on their shoulder,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We were there every game, every Tuesday, every Monday, every Wednesday, every Thursday, every Friday, and every Saturday. So its just the doubters doubting us on this defense to show what we can do and we got to keep proving them wrong and keep it up.”
Jamon Dumas-Johnson opens up about his recent play