Georgia sophomore safety Lewis Cine has had a couple of different things to work on since the Florida game.
In that contest the Georgia safety earned notoriety following a car-crash of a hit on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Cine was ejected from the game and the hit ended up giving both players concussions. Some in the media called Cine’s hit dirty and Pitts has missed Florida’s last two games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt.
Kyle Pitts and Lewis Cine involved in a scary collision. Mercy. pic.twitter.com/s0T3wf2PMF
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) November 7, 2020
Cine knows he has to do a better job of playing safer and making sure he’s not missing time for a defense that is already banged up.
But he’s always played the game a certain way. He’s even learned to do so from some of the best to ever play defensive back, like his high school coach, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
“Football is supposed to be played fast and physical,” Cine said. “That’s how it is supposed to be and I’ve never shied away from contact or showing how aggressive I play this sport. I’ve always played like that from pop warner to high school to now. I don’t plan on changing the way I play anytime soon.
“It’s just playing the game safer and I’m learning things, new ways to keep myself safe, to keep other people safe.”
Cine was able to return to the field against Mississippi State, where he had two tackles and a pass break-up. That pass break-up should’ve been an interception but Cine was unable to come up with the play.
As for learning a lesson from the Pitts hit, Cine hates that it happened but doesn’t think his style of play is some great problem in the game.
The other area that Cine has been working to improve is his leadership and communication skills. Cine is not an overly vocal player and is more likely to do the action required more so than talk about it.
Normally that would be fine for the Georgia defense. But there’s a Richard LeCounte sized hole in the defense with the senior safety missing the past two games for Georgia. In those games, the Bulldogs have allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing games.
In addition to LeCounte’s playmaking, the Bulldogs very much miss LeCounte’s energy.
“He brings a whole lot of juice to the defense,” Cine said. “For one, I’m really, really waiting for the day that he can come back. Hopefully, that’s very soon. We love Richard, and that’s what we’re missing.”
Kirby Smart noted that Cine has improved as a player this season, as the sophomore who is originally from Massachusetts is third on the team in tackles with 31. But the next step for Cine is to become a better leader for the Bulldogs for both 2020 and in the season to come.
“He’s a really good tackler—challenge him in something in the leadership department,” Smart said. “It’s not something that he has had to do. He hasn’t been natural and comfortable with that, but he certainly can do it. Lewis is one of those kinds of people that leads by example. He works really hard on the practice field, but he’s not extremely vocal either. He sets a great example for the players.”
Cine went into greater detail about how he’s different from Cine when it comes to the leadership department and how he is trying to overcome it.
“I’m quite different from what Richard brings to the table. As leadership wise, he speaks his mind more and is more vocal,” Cine said after the Mississippi State win. “I’m more action, a lot more just do instead of talk or any of that. My way of taking leadership is just communicating with other guys on the field.”
There still isn’t a timetable for LeCounte’s return, so these reps will be invaluable for Cine for both this season and perhaps more importantly in 2021 when he figures to be the face of the safety position for Georgia.
Georgia has almost always had strong safety play under Smart. Whether it be Maurice Smith, J.R. Reed or LeCounte, that position has also been one usually occupied by a clear leader. No one expected Cine to have to fill that role for Georgia this season but he’s been nonetheless thrust into it.
And he’ll have to continue to play fast and physical while also infusing some of LeCounte’s leadership traits into his own game.
Georgia safety Lewis Cine discusses life after Kyle Pitts hit
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