Over the past month, analysts around the country were unsure about how the Georgia Bulldogs would perform without four starters on defense. This was a defense that ranked among the top 5 in the country last season and only lost two starters, but there was still doubt that they could match 2011′s performance. This was apparent when multiple ESPN analysts picked the Missouri Tigers to upset the Tigers last week.
Even without their four suspended starters, Georgia dismantled the Tigers 41-20.
The Bulldogs quieted the doubters with their performance last week and will regain two of their suspended players this weekend.
Cornerback Sanders Commings and Chase Vasser, both suspended for the first two games, will be eligible to play for Georgia when they take on the Florida Atlantic Owls Saturday night. Commings was suspended for slapping his girlfriend outside of a bar last spring and Vasser was suspended for a DUI.
The return of both players bolsters an already stout Bulldogs defense.
Having Commings back in the defensive backfield is huge for Georgia. Commings brings much needed versatility to a secondary that will be without All-American safety Bacarri Rambo for one more week.
Former walk-on Connor Norman has filled in admirably for Rambo but Commings should receive most of the playing time at free safety while Rambo is out. While Sanders played strictly at corner last season, he did spend time at safety two years ago.
His versatility is something that is admired by his head coach, Mark Richt.
“We’ll always cross-train Sanders Commings to play both cornerback and safety” said Richt at his weekly press conference. ” He’s probably bigger than both of our safeties. He’s close to 220 pounds, and he runs and covers really well. He’s smart enough to play both positions, so we’ll train him at both. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Todd (Grantham) much about the plan this week and how exactly he wants to incorporate him.”
Both Commings and Vasser were listed as starters on Georgia’s preseason depth chart but that is not the case this week. Commings is listed as the backup to Malcolm Mitchell at cornerback and Vasser is listed as the backup to Ramik Wilson at outside linebacker. Commings is not listed on the depth chart at safety but that does not mean he won’t see time there against the Owls.
The Bulldogs showed that they are the same defense they were last year when they played Missouri. They now receive two starters that will add depth and talent to an already talented unit. They still may be missing two key pieces in Rambo and Alec Ogletree, but the additions of Commings and Vasser should not be overlooked.
Chris Lionetti is a writer for Rant Sports with a focus on the SEC and the Georgia Bulldogs.
Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisLionetti