ATHENS, GA. — Georgia junior safety J.R. Reed has known he needs to assert himself in the locker room during the bye week, and one of his first conversations was with true freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell.
It’s precisely the sort of leadership the No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) need with their season in the balance, must-win games against East Division co-leader and No. 11-ranked Florida (6-1, 4-1) and upstart No. 14 Kentucky (5-1, 3-1) on deck.
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Georgia needs the talented Campbell, who’s dealing with a shoulder subluxation and unenviable workload thanks to the All-American play of cornerback Deandre Baker, to get over one of the tougher outings of his career.
Campbell surrendered 153 yards passing in coverage in the 36-16 loss at LSU, according to Georgia’s Rivals.com writer Anthony Dasher.
But Reed said that’s the sort of thing that happens to all defensive backs in their careers, and he said the team is confident Campbell will bounce back for the Florida game next Saturday.
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“He’s just got to grow up fast, I believe Tyson can be that shutdown guy this year,” Reed said. “He’s got to learn, he’s got to just push a little bit harder than he did before.”
Reed took the blame for a broken defensive assignment when it appeared Campbell hesitated on a corner blitz, and his man ran free uncovered with no safety help.
“That was poor communication on my end,” Reed said.
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Reed said a loss like the one the Bulldogs suffered at LSU is a valuable learning experience for all of the players, but for the young ones in particular, the No. 1 2018 signing class having previously never lost.
“They learn about themselves, that’s the number on thing, you figure out this is a grown man’s league, and you have to push harder,” Reed said. “When you lose, it’s what are you going to do next?”
Reed said he’s working on his tackling and communication during the bye week, saying “in the secondary we’ve been having way too many busts due to a lack of communication this season.”
Georgia football safety J.R. Reed