ATHENS — Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter broke into a smile when hearing about the challenge his head coach had laid down.
“As far as questions about our defense or our defensive line, they’ll be answered this week,” Smart said at his Monday press conference. “They better knuckle up.”
Ledbetter, arguably the most talented member of the front seven, is ready to accept the challenges LSU will present at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
“This is my kind of football game, I love games like this, it’s tough, it’s physical, that’s what you love to see in SEC football, and it will be all that on Saturday,” Ledbetter said.
“Personally I like that (Smart) said that, he’s basically putting the game in our hands, and we just need to come out and be physical,” Ledbetter said. “It’s going to be a tough game, it’s definitely going to be a four-quarter game.”
The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC) have beaten every opponent by two touchdowns or more, and none have so much as come closer than 10 points in the second half.
The No. 13-ranked Tigers (5-1, 3-1) figure to change that, their backs to the wall after a mistake-filled 27-19 road defeat at Florida.
Vanderbilt gouged the Georgia defense for 91 rushing yards in the first half last Saturday before being forced to go to the air after falling behind.
Earlier this season, Missouri averaged 5.3 yards on first down runs en route to 172 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 43-29 in Columbia.
Ledbetter said he and his Georgia teammates are as eager as anyone else to see how they respond to great competition.
“We’ve had some physical games, but we haven’t been battle-tested, and I think we’re actually excited to have a situation where that’s going to happen,” Ledbetter said. “We’ve been waiting to see what we’re like through four quarters of a football game, and we want to accept that challenge.
“We’re not going to back down from any fight.”
Georgia football DL Jonathan Ledbetter