The Georgia Bulldogs should have one of the nation’s best offenses in 2013. The return of quarterback Aaron Murray and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall give the Bulldogs quite a punch, one that should keep opposing defenses off balance all season.
However, the fate of the Bulldogs’ season could lie with the defense, which will have to replace a number of star players from 2012. Gone from last year’s team are standout linebackers Jarvis Jones, Michael Gilliard and Alec Ogletree, defensive backs Baccari Rambo and Sanders Commings, strong safety Shawn Williams and nose tackle John Jenkins. Those players were seven of the top nine tacklers for Georgia during the 2012 season.
In fact, Georgia returns only four starters from last year’s defense, linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Jordan Jenkins, defensive lineman Garrison Smith, as well as defensive back Damian Swann.
Last season, Herrera was fifth on the team with 70 tackles, including three and a half tackles for loss and an interception.
Jenkins, who the coaching staff believes is a star in the making, had 31 tackles last season, eight and a half tackles for loss and five sacks, good enough for second best on the team in 2012.
Swann had 53 tackles, a pair of sacks and four interceptions at the cornerback position.
Smith accounted for 57 tackles in 2012, with two tackles for loss and one sack.
These four players will be the anchors for head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham as the Bulldogs rebuild a defense that will be asked to do just enough to give the potent offense some room to maneuver.
There are a few other Bulldogs who have started games in their career, the best of which are Connor Norman and Chase Vasser. Norman, a free safety, recorded 18 tackles in 14 games last season, while Vasser, an outside linebacker, had 19 tackles, including four which yielded losses.
Grantham’s job will be to fill the holes on defense for a team that will be in the hunt for the Southeastern Conference title again in 2013. If the defense is able to step up, the Bulldogs could have another outstanding season.