ATHENS – Is Leonard Floyd an outside linebacker, an inside linebacker, or a nickel back? The answer to that appears to be yes, yes and yes.
Georgia plans to use its athletic defensive standout at all three spots, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said Tuesday.
“We’re very fortunate to have a guy that’s got the ability to do multiple things like that,” Pruitt said. “So the good thing about Leonard is he can help everybody else right. Until we figure out the other pieces of the puzzle he’s gonna kind of do all three.”
Asked if that was all three about equally, Pruitt replied “yes.”
Floyd has mainly been an outside linebacker during his first two years at Georgia. That entails a lot of pass rush, and he produced 6.5 sacks as a freshman and 6 last season. But Floyd also played the nickel back (otherwise known as the star), most notably in the win over Auburn last year. And in some sets he has shifted inside.
Georgia also has a surplus at outside linebacker, where senior Jordan Jenkins and sophomore Lorenzo Carter are too skilled to leave off the field. The inside linebacker spots are unsettled. So Pruitt and his staff will spend much of August figuring out how to, as Pruitt put it, figure out those “other pieces of the puzzle.”
A big part of that is Carter, who guesses he will spend about half his time at both outside linebacker and defensive end, just as he did last year. He said he’s comfortable doing both, but seems to prefer the linebacker spot.
“I’m fine with my hand in the dirt. But standing up, it’s more fun to me, I guess,” Carter said. “It’s more fun being able to stand up and see everything else going on, and being able to be a level back. It’s something different. In high school I always had my hand in the dirt. So I’m enjoying standing up.”
It means more pass coverage, at least about 40 percent of the time, Carter estimated.
“We’ve been working on that a lot,” Carter said, accentuating the last two words. “Especially as outside linebackers, make sure that we have the ability to cover anywhere from a running back to a tight end to a wide receiver. We’re all pretty fast so we can hang with anybody.”