ATHENS — Georgia linebacker Smael Mondon is not a man of many words. When he speaks, he’s usually direct and to the point.

On the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff, Mondon didn’t mince words.

“Whoever is No. 1 in November, it don’t really matter too much by the end of the year,” Mondon said. “We’re not really worried about the ranking and just keep doing what we’re doing.”

Related: Georgia coach Kirby Smart too busy to notice or care about No. 1 CFP Ranking

For the Georgia defense, that means getting better each week. After slowing Florida’s top-ranked rushing attack, the Georgia defense held Tennessee to season-low totals on the ground and through the air. The Volunteers didn’t score their first touchdown until the 4:15 mark in the fourth quarter.

This is a defense that has first-year starters at every level, including Mondon and fellow sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson. As the entire sport saw last week, the duo lead a defense that gets better each and every week.

Hearing Mondon speak about the improvements, you begin to understand why this Georgia defense is playing at the level it is.

“From game one, I think we have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go,” Mondon said. “Even the best games we play, there can still be a lot of improvement. Week in and week out, if you keep improving, the sky is the limit.”

Mondon himself could be a big reason why this defense continues to improve. Along with Jalen Carter, Mondon picked up an injury in the win over Missouri that kept him out of games against Auburn and Vanderbilt.

The move allowed Rian Davis to get valuable reps, while Mondon worked on getting healthy. It wasn’t until Georgia’s game against Florida that Mondon began to feel like himself.

With Mondon now healthy, he’s quickly resumed playing at a high level. His relationship with Dumas-Johnson extends back to prior to the two of them entering the starting lineup.

“We’re playing together a lot more, so there will be times where I’ll know what he wants to do and he’ll know what I want to do without us even saying it,” Mondon said. “I know what he’s comfortable with and he knows what I’m comfortable with so we really bounce off each other.”

Related: Jamon Dumas-Johnson ready to be heard against Tennessee: ‘He’s showing little flashes of Nakobe’

Their bond speaks to the connection created by the Georgia team.

With the No. 1 ranking and new-found respect for the defense, it’s easy to understand that Georgia is adapting to a new set of circumstances.

As head coach Kirby Smart lays out though, that’s not the case. This team can still keep getting better, a scary thought for the rest of the sport.

“I feel like we’ve had a target on our back all year. I really don’t feel like that changes, right? When you won the national championship the year before, there’s a target on your back from day one,” Smart said. It doesn’t change regardless of your record or the venue that you play in. We talk about toughness and DNA, and DNA travels. If you have good DNA, it travels with you. We don’t do all the exercises that you do to build composure to not use it.”

Smael Mondon has the perfect response on Georgia football No. 1 ranking

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation