Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson ready for defense to answer questions at South Carolina

Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10) with the big play during the Bulldogs’ game with UAB in Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

ATHENS — Kirby Smart made it clear Georgia will be the hunters this season and that this is a program that was built to last.

The confidence the head coach exudes has spilled over to his defense entering into the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs’ noon game at South Carolina (TV: ESPN) at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Jamon “Pops” Dumas-Johnson, the heart of the defense with Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean moved on to the NFL, isn’t overly concerned about how the Gamecocks’ pass game could affect him as a middle linebacker.

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“Not really too many challenges, even though South Carolina is a great team, has a great quarterback and has great players,” Dumas-Johnson said this week, asked about the challenges Spencer Rattler & Company might present his position by spreading the field.

“It’s a challenge we’re willing to accept, but also not, because at (line) backer a the University of Georgia we most likely can do everything you want a linebacker to do, pass cover and play the run, anything like that, so I don’t think it’s a big challenge.”

Dumas-Johnson clearly believes in himself and his defensive teammates, and that’s understandable.

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Georgia is the only FBS program in the nation not to have allowed a touchdown through two games this season and it’s a 24 1/2-point favorite to beat South Carolina.

Still, the road environment does present a different challenge for many of the young players on this Bulldogs team.

Former Tennessee head coach and Georgia, Alabama and Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said he’s interested to see how Georgia’s talented team responds.

“There’s a lot of new folks on that side of the ball, and they have guys that have experience, but it will be the first time for some on the road, so it will be interesting,” Pruitt said during the DawgNation On The Beat Show on Monday.

“There’s a challenge there with South Carolina, they have some playmakers offensively, they scored a lot of points on Arkansas.”

The Razorbacks defeated the Gamecocks 44-30 last Saturday in Fayetteville, pounding the ball on the ground and forcing two late turnovers.

Still, Pruitt sees Rattler as a challenge.

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“Spencer Rattler is a guy that’s very dangerous, he has a lot of playmaking ability if he doesn’t turn the ball over, they can put points on the board,” Pruitt said. “You have to be aware of a guy who can make some plays with his feet and has the arm talent to spread the ball around.

“But one thing Spencer Rattler has not faced, he has not faced a defense like Georgia’s, so it will be a challenge for him.”

RELATED: How Spencer Rattler makes Gamecocks dangerous, and what’s missing at SC

Indeed, and that’s where Dumas-Johnson is likely coming from, as Smart pushes his defenses incredibly hard in practices.

“Practice makes the game easier,” Dumas-Johnson said. “They put us in tough things we won’t even see in the games.”

Tempo and effort will certainly not be an issue for the Georgia defense, as Dumas-Johnson sets the tone there with his talent and confidence.

“Really, this is our opening game for the SEC,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We have to leave our mark on the league. This is a very important week because it’s an opener.”

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