Arguably the star of the Georgia Bulldogs defense, All-American outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has had a lessened impact on the field in his two most recent matchups. Jones did not have a sack against the Tennessee Volunteers and only notched four tackles against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Why has Georgia’s star on defense making less of an impact these days? Is it better blocking schemes? Or is it possibly teams shying away from his side of the field?
While both of the aforementioned questions can be answered with a “yes”, the real reason Jones is making less of an impact may be the fact that he is playing injured. The linebacker injured his groin in the second week of the season against the Missouri Tigers and has not been the same since then.
For that reason, it is no coincidence at all that Jarvis Jones played his best football of the season against Missouri. Jones was a monster in that game, making plays all over the field. In that game, Jones notched nine tackles, two tackles for a loss, two sacks, and recorded his first career interception in the game.
After injuring his groin against Missouri, Jarvis sat out the team’s next game but has played in the past three. He made seven tackles, a sack, and three tackles for a loss against the Vanderbilt Commodores, proof that the week off did him well.
However, Jones did not seem himself in the Bulldogs’ next game against Tennessee. While Jones was able to make eight tackles, he failed to sack Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. Against the Vols, Jarvis did not seem to have his usual burst and it affected his pass-rushing ability.
Then against the Gamecocks, Jones was mostly a non-factor besides a first half sack. He also left the game in the fourth quarter and would not return. ESPN’s cameras showed Jarvis Jones on the trainer’s table during the fourth quarter, giving way to the belief that Jones is playing hurt.
Also, adding fuel to the fire was Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who said earlier in the week that Jones may not be playing at 100%.
Groin injuries are known to linger and it is possible that he aggravated the injury against the Volunteers. A man with an iron will, Jones most likely played through the pain against South Carolina and did not alert coaches of the injury until the fourth quarter.
Luckily enough for the Bulldogs, their bye week is this week and they can afford to rest their star linebacker. Their defense hasn’t performed to expectations lately, so they can work on that as well.
Though keep this in mind, when Jarvis Jones is at his best, so is the Georgia defense. Getting Jarvis back to full strength should be one of Georgia’s priority, as he has is the fuel that makes the defense go.
Update: Jones was seen on the UGA campus Monday morning in a walking boot and crutches. When asked why he is on crutches, the linebacker replied, “It’s just an ankle sprain.”
Chris Lionetti is a writer for Rant Sports with a focus on the SEC and the Georgia Bulldogs
Follow him on Twitter at: @ChrisLionetti