Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) is sacked by Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Javon Bullard (22) during the fourth quarter in a NCAA football game, at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 5, 2022, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 27-13. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard making a dynamite impact for Bulldogs’ defense

ATHENS — Kirby Smart will tell you football is a game of matchups and execution, and in Javon Bullard the Georgia defensive staff knew they had just the right guy to help blow up the Tennessee offense last Saturday.

“He’s like a little stick of dynamite,” Smart said after Bullard’s two-sack standout performance in the Bulldogs’ dominating 27-13 win over the Vols.

He played really hard, and tackled well. He’s physical and he’s passionate about playing the game.”

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Bullard had seven tackles and a pass breakup — on par for the “Star” position — but also, three QB hurries to go along with his sacks as Georgia held Tennessee without a play over 17 yards or a touchdown until there were less than 5 minutes left and the game had been decided.

“I give (Glenn) Schumann a lot of credit, he came up with a couple plays that he thought would disrupt them, and he kept running the same thing,” Smart said., praising the co-defensive coordinator he has mentored for years.

It got to the point Smart didn’t think that keeping Bullard on the attack at the line of scrimmage would work, and questioned Schumann’s decision to keep running the blitz.

“Like, ‘We can’t run it again,’ but he ran it again, and I said, ‘We can’t run it again.’ He ran it again,” Smart said. “I was like, ‘Jeez!’

“But Bullard kept coming off the edge and was really impactful as a rusher, and the guys in the back end held up.”

Tennessee didn’t adjust in game, but it’s like the Vols have since seem the error of their ways, albeit, too late.

Bullard likely stuck out on the game film during Tennessee’s preparations, as he had a team-high eight tackles in the 42-20 win over Florida, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss.

At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Bullard packs a lot more punch than some might have expected from the former Baldwin High School Standout.

The recruiting rankings suggested Bullard was undersized and a less than dynamic player, his 3-star rating and No. 634 national rank was among the lowest in the Bulldogs’ 2021 signing class.

But Smart and his staff saw much, much, more than just recruiting numbers when they traveled to the Milledgeville area to recruit Bullard.

“His film showed the toughness, he tackled well,” Smart said. “You can tell people who run through tackles don’t fear contact, and he was a fearless player.”

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