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Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder turned in an MVP-worthy performance against Notre Dame with his crushing hits and team-high 9 tackles.

Georgia LB Tae Crowder: Focusing on little things leading to big things

ATHENS — Georgia football linebacker Tae Crowder made his career-high 9-tackle effort sound simple, just like the approach he’s taking into Saturday’s game at Tennessee.

“I just feel like that week of practice, I practiced hard and focused on the little things, and it paid off,” Crowder said of his 9 stops in the 23-17 win over Notre Dame on Sept. 21. “I try to play to a high standard each week.”

Perhaps. but the Notre Dame game was special. Crowder played at a different speed, raising the eyebrows of NFL scouts that were in attendance as well as his coaches and teammates.

RELATED: Kirby Smart focused on raising Havoc rate on defense

One NFL scout told DawgNation.com that the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Crowder was a pleasant surprise in the game.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs need Crowder to show up against a Vols team that will be intent on running the football in the 7 p.m. game at Tennessee.

“They like to run the ball, (and) they’ll give you a lot of different looks,” Crowder said. “(Last year) they were a physical team, and they came out and tried to run ball against us.”

Crowder said he expects former UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to try to confuse the Bulldogs’ defense.

“(But) it’s not really about what they’re going to be doing,” Crowder said. “It’s all about what we do.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart likes what Crowder is doing enough to keep him in the starting lineup over Top 50 national recruits like Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker, along with former U.S. Army All-American Nate McBride.

Tae has taken ownership in his job, and he’s become much better at being able to adapt and change to what happens within a game, within a play,” Smart said. “Something checks, something changes, so many formations you get from offenses nowadays and so much complicated scheme stuff that he’s able to help get us right.

“Besides Monty (Rice), he’s the only guy that can do that.”

Crowder was a 3-star recruit from Pine Mountain Ga., recruited as a running back out of Harris County High School.

Kentucky was his only other SEC offer. Ironically enough, current Tennessee defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley was the coach recruiting Crowder for the Wildcats at that time.

Crowder redshirted his first season at Georgia in 2015, switching over from running back to linebacker halfway through his first season playing for Smart in 2016.

The transition to linebacker has taken some time. But as Smart points out, Crowder has become more comfortable with the play calls, so he’s able to be more reactive once the ball is snapped.

“He has grown at that,” Smart said. “I think the fact that he’s gotten better at that allows him to make some plays.”

Even quarterback Jake Fromm has noticed, likely from when Smart pits the starting units against one another.

Tae has really matured a lot, and he’s playing really good football right now,” Fromm said. “He’s stepping up and taking on some leadership roles and putting guys in the right spot. He’s communicating with guys, making sure guys know what they are doing and helping guys out.”

And Crowder is loving the more aggressive defensive schemes coordinator Dan Lanning is applying to increase the Havoc rate.

“I feel like everyone is buying into it,” Crowder said. “It’s something special for the defense, because it’s something we look forward to on the field.”

Georgia LB Tae Crowder

 

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