ATHENS — Kirby Smart wasn’t looking to throw shade on the significance of the Brenton Cox transfer, he was just stating facts.
Georgia is very deep at the outside linebacker position, and Smart later explained why the Bulldogs are maybe even deeper there than they need to be.
“We have (only) one of them on the field on most snaps,” Smart said, referring to how the Bulldogs most often line up in a 3-3-5 alignment to combat opponents’ formations more often than the base 3-4.
“If we have one (OLB) on the field, and there’s six of them (in the meeting room), I wish we were that deep at every position,” Smart said. “Sometimes we get two of them (OLBs) in regular (formation), but not a lot of people play regular anymore.
“We sometimes get two of them on third down. We sometimes get two of them when people are in large (personnel) sets. It’s probably the most underutilized position.”
All that said, it’s still very important that Georgia is loaded with star potential at outside linebacker this season.
New defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is committed to creating more “havoc,” and that will mean more multiple fronts and pressure schemes designed to optimize the pass-rushing skills at OLB.
Incoming freshman Nolan Smith, the No. 1-ranked player in the 2019 class, continued to impress on Saturday.
“I know Nolan made a couple of plays on the perimeter,” Smart said.
Smart pointed out that Walter Grant and Jermaine Johnson “lost contain a couple of times,” and “they’ve got to do a little better job there.”
But, Smart said, “We’ve got some really good athletes in that group. I’ve been really pleased with the work ethic from that group thus far.”
Lanning was clearly excited about his outside linebackers group last Monday, even before the hitting began in earnest.
“Azeez Ojulari’s a guy that finished off the year last year really strong and is doing really well, but I don’t think you could put aside the work that Robert Beal’s put in,” Lanning said. “It’s hard to just sit here and say this guy, that guy, and obviously we have some newcomers we’re really excited about.
“Obviously Jermaine (Johnson) is somebody we’re really, really excited about.”
Ultimately, Lanning made clear, one size does not fit all at the linebacker positions — in a 3-3-5, 3-4 or 4-3 alignment, for that matter.
“At the end of the day, you find roles for guys that are ready and that have prepared for their role,” Lanning said. “There’s definitely certain packages you look at, you want to take a guy’s skill set …. you want to make sure you put your guys in the best position to be successful and some guys do some things better than other guys.
“So, within that, we obviously have packages that match that.”
And plenty of depth to draw from.
Georgia football Scrimmage One