3 spring football questions for Georgia defensive backs: Still second to none?
ATHENS — Georgia football might have had the best secondary in the nation last season, led by Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker.
The Bulldogs might once again have the best secondary in the nation in 2019, even with Baker moving on to the NFL.
A mix of elite talent and coaching returns to Georgia, with Kirby Smart and new secondary coach Charlton Warren working with a deep and experienced group.
The Bulldogs gave up only 28 plays of 25 yards or longer (compared to UGA’s offense making 66), and a big reason why was the defensive backs.
Baker’s coverage had a lot to do with Georgia’s stubborn defense, but there are plenty of great players coming back.
Deandre Baker only gave up a lowly 0.46 yards per coverage snap this season, leading draft eligible SEC cornerbacks. pic.twitter.com/EbXf0paPuz
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 18, 2019
J.R Reed’s decision to return for a senior season has been surprisingly underplayed to this point, as Reed’s leadership and control of the defense from his safety position are invaluable.
If there’s one sure thing on the Georgia defense, it’s J.R. Reed.
The secondary, while arguably the best unit on defense, still has other questions to answer:
Tyson Campbell time?
Campbell, reputed to be one of the fastest players on the team, aims for big improvement and is the favorite to start opposite Eric Stokes.
Smart threw the 5-star true freshman into the fire from the onset last season, perhaps prematurely, as Campbell got his share of burns.
A shoulder subluxation injury at Missouri led to Campbell getting nauseated and leaving that game, allowing for Stokes to step up.
Richard LeCounte lll tackling
It might be more appropriate to title it “Richard LeCounte weightlifting,” as this gifted safety’s biggest problem was how his light frame was often pushed around by bigger players.
LeCounte, listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, led the team with 74 tackles last season and he was active with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and three pass break-ups.
But LeCounte missed on many other tackles or got knocked back for extra yardage, something that won’t be as likely as he grows older and stronger.
It’s not a stretch to say LeCounte has All-SEC talent who could evolve into an NFL safety provided his tackling improves.
More specifically, who and what will Smart decide to do with this secondary hybrid position?
The proliferation of spread offenses has led to more and more snaps with a fifth defensive back on the field, often nicknamed “star” because of the need to play in space.
Redshirt freshman Divaad Wilson is back from the ACL injury he suffered last spring and figures into the mix here, along with trusted senior Tyrique McGhee and junior Mark Webb.
Newcomers D.J. Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson should not be counted out, as they have the size and talent to compete for a spot on the field when Georgia goes “11 best.”
Daniel was the No. 2-ranked junior college cornerback, and early enrollee Stevenson is another highly-touted South Florida (Homestead) recruit.
More Georgia football spring 2019