Curtis Compton/AJC
Georgia's Dominick Sanders (24) and Aaron Davis (35)

Projecting UGA’s pre-spring depth chart for the defense

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday.

Putting the ‘depth’ in the ‘depth chart’

When I went over my projected pre-spring depth chart for the offense on Thursday, the focal points were the questions at offensive line and wide receiver. There are no such questions with the defense because, oh, boy, this is one deep unit. There’s a known, reliable commodity at pretty much every position, and the second team is full of young talent who will gain experience in relief.

It’s the same deal as Thursday. Since this is the pre-spring depth chart, the only freshmen I’m listing are the early enrollees. And I’ve limited it it to the two-deep for simplicity’s sake.

1st team 2nd team
DT Trent Thompson Julian Rochester
NT John Atkins DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle
DE Jonathan Ledbetter David Marshall
SAM Lorenzo Carter D’Andre Walker
JACK Davin Bellamy Chauncey Manac
MIKE Natrez Patrick Reggie Carter
WILL Roquan Smith Juwan Taylor
FC Deandre Baker Tyrique McGhee
BC Malkom Parrish Pat Allen
STAR Tyrique McGhee DeAngelo Gibbs
LS Aaron Davis Rashad Roundtree
RS Dominick Sanders  Richard LeCounte III

Defensive line — There isn’t a guy among these defensive linemen who I’d peg as a potential star, per se, but all six of the players on the line’s two-deep are high-level players of relatively the same skill. So, what they lack in individual star power, they make up for in being a deep and versatile unit. And that’s not even all the guys. This thing can go nine-deep, maybe.

Between the six of them, there really isn’t a combination you couldn’t deploy. The coaches can switch between speed and power rushes and not really have to worry about the skill level of the line, as a whole, dropping. There’s also the benefit of being able to sub often without losing much. Defensive line is one of the most difficult positions to keep fresh. The more guys you have who put in a shift, the better chance you have at getting pressure on the QB in late-game situations.

Linebacker — The linebackers don’t have as much depth as the defensive line, but the first-team LBs are the single-best starting unit on the team. The decisions by Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to return for their senior seasons were absolutely enormous. It will give Chauncey Manac and D’Andre Walker a season to gain experience before being called into starting roles. I can’t wait to see the next step Roquan Smith takes because I think he has the ability to be the best player on this defense, maybe even the team. And the one-two punch of Natrez Patrick and Lorenzo Carter means you never lose a step at Mike. This should be one of the best LB corps in college football next season.

Secondary — The only player lost from the 2016 defense was corner Maurice Smith. With Rico McGraw’s transfer, the only hole to fill was at Star. Tyrique McGhee, a speedy sophomore, seems to be the obvious choice to get the chance to fill the vacancy. Coach Kirby Smart once called him, the ‘toughest freshmen I’ve ever been around,‘ so he’s made some fans in high places. His only limitation may be his height. He’s 5-foot-10 and UGA has been making a concerted effort to get taller at corner.

The other thing to look for at corner is what role the two freshmen, Richard LeCounte III and DeAngelo Gibbs, will take on in the spring. Gibbs is an athlete who could play at corner, safety or receiver. I have him pegged as a Star to begin with. It’s the position that gives him the best chance to get experience early if UGA wants to play him in the secondary, which seems to be the case. With LeCounte’s talent, I think he’s a shoo-in to earn minutes next season, and he’ll benefit in a major way by learning from Dominick Sanders for a season.

UGA baseball returns Friday night

Georgia baseball returns once again Friday night, when the Diamond Dogs host College of Charleston at Foley Field.

Scott Stricklin’s first three seasons as head coach have been nothing to write home about, but the 2017 campaign promises hope, if not necessarily a lot of success. The Bulldogs are looking to rebound from a 27-30 record last season, but they’ll have to do it with a whopping 18 newcomers. Freshmen and sophomores outweigh upperclassmen by nearly a 3:1 ration on this squad.

I’ll admit that I don’t know a ton about UGA baseball, but from what I’ve read, this is a talented group of freshmen. To me, it looks like it could be a transition season where the team shows a lot of promise but also goes through a lot of growing pains. I don’t expect anything spectacular from this team, but you never know what can happen with young talent, and this could be a team that helps bring UGA baseball back to prominence. You’ll just have to watch to find out.

Georgia baseball is typically overshadowed by football (duh) and basketball in the UGA blogosphere, but my old college stomping grounds, the Red & Black, does a fantastic job at covering the Diamond Dogs every season. (It also does a great job with pretty much every non-revenue sport at Georgia, so support student journalism and check it out for all its coverage in that realm and more.) Here’s some links to the work they’ve been doing in the buildup to the season to get you ready for first pitch:

Lady Dogs lose to No. 3 Mississippi State

Georgia (13-13, 5-8 SEC) led for 31 minutes of its game against No. 3 Mississippi State on Thursday, looking poised for one of the biggest upsets in women’s college basketball this season. UGA led 42-39 at the end of three quarters in Starkville but only managed 7 points in the fourth quarter and fell to MSU, 58-49. Caliya Robinson scored 13 points and was the only Bulldog to reach double digits.

The Lady Dogs now head to Baton Rouge, where they’ll play LSU on Sunday.

Kentucky comes to town

The Kentucky Wildcats are in Athens this weekend to to take on Georgia basketball on Saturday. As always, the Kentucky game is a hot ticket. If you’re a student, here’s what you need to do to make sure you can score one:

Dawgs sit in second at SEC Swimming and Diving Championships

Georgia men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hold second place at the SEC Championships in Knoxville following three days of competition. The men trail Florida, 759.5–537, while the women follow Texas A&M, 729-601.

Thursday was a big day for Chase Kalisz on the men’s side. He snagged his second individual win of the competition in the 400-yard IM.

The SEC Championships continue on Friday with the 200 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 400 medley relay and women’s platform diving. Champions will be crowned on Saturday, giving both UGA squads two days to make a comeback and bring a title home to Athens.

Dawgs this weekend

In addition to everything mentioned above, here’s what UGA athletics has in store this weekend:

It’s Friday

Anyone else ready for the weekend?

ICYMI

Good dog

Movin’.