ATHENS — Adam Anderson has been a rising star in the Georgia football program for three seasons, emerging as one of the top pass rushers in the SEC.
But Anderson’s talents are such that Coach Kirby Smart is looking at Anderson to play the “Star” position, which he explained is essentially one of the two outside linebackers in UGA’s base 3-4 alignment.
“Basically when you are an outside backer, you are a Star,” Smart said after the second practice of the spring on Thursday. “In a 3-4 system, you have two outside backers. Well, every snap that we play a 3-4, we have a STAR that is an outside backer. So Mark Webb was an outside backer on 50 percent of the snaps.
“Well, that’s what Adam Anderson is. If you’re going to rush him 50 percent of the time, would you rather rush Mark Webb or Adam Anderson?”
Smart said it’s important to build the defense around the structure of what the team wants to do, and play to the team’s strengths.
“They (Webb and Anderson) both have great strengths — their strengths are different — and we think that (Anderson) can help us from a rush standpoint.”
There’s no question about that, Anderson had 6 1/2 sacks in limited action playing behind Azeez Ojulari last season.
The eye-opening part of Smart using Anderson at the Star is the amount of pass coverage the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder could be in.
“What we’re experimenting with right now is him having to cover, because he gives us the luxury of playing four DBs instead of five, and it accentuates our lack of DBs,” Smart said. “But it accentuates our strength with rush guys if we’re able to play with him.”
UGA would like nothing more than to be able to get Nolan Smith and Anderson on the field at the same time, with Travon Walker also posing a pass-rush threat.
“We’re challenging (Anderson),” Smart said, “asking him to do a lot that if we had to play a game tomorrow, we would ask him to do all these things. But we’re trying to teach him and have an open mindset with him.”