Georgia does have to replace two-year starter Malik Herring. But junior Travon Walker seems poised to step in and maybe even surpass what Herring brought to the team in the past two seasons.
The Bulldogs also saw a number of promising youngsters emerge in 2020, such as Jalen Carter, Zion Logue and Warren Brinson. This position group is loaded with both high-end talent and impressive depth.
And Georgia is going to need this group to dominate from the jump, as the Bulldogs open the season against what should be a top-5 Clemson team to start the 2021 season.
The defensive line should have an advantage every time it takes the field in 2021. Georgia is going to need that to be the case against Clemson when you factor in its biggest position of concern is the offensive line.
“Clemson’s run blocking in 2020 was problematic, and in the Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State, the Buckeyes dominated the line of scrimmage,” ESPN’s David Hale wrote. “There’s ample talent on the line for the Tigers, and they’re adding five-star tackle Tristan Leigh, but it’s a group that needs to show genuine progress if the offense is to get back to the type of production Clemson fans were used to seeing during the Tigers’ championship seasons.”
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In Clemson’s two 2020 losses, the Tigers ran for just 34 yards against Notre Dame and 44 yards in the College Football Playoff loss to Ohio State. And that was with running back Travis Etienne on the field. He finished his college career as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher and figures to be one of the first running backs taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Clemson also must replace quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who finished second on the team in rushing yards last season with 203 yards. The Tigers’ leading returning rusher is Lyn-J Dixon, who had 190 rushing yards.
By comparison, Georgia returns five running backs that topped Dixon’s output in 2021.
The Bulldogs also led the nation in rush defense for a second straight season, giving up just an average of 72.3 yards per game. With Davis occupying multiple blockers at almost all-times, it makes things very easy for the rest of the defense to limit opposing rushing attacks.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a star,” Davis said prior to a Peach Bowl performance that saw him pick up a sack and block a field goal. “I just do what I have to do to make sure I’m successful, make my teammates successful: complementary football.”
Georgia though won’t just need its defensive front to be stout against the run. The Bulldogs are going to need more from the defensive line in terms of generating a pass rush. The Bulldogs finished with 32 sacks in 10 games a season ago.