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I Wanna SEC You Up: The Georgia Defense

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Former SIOC Cheerleader of the Week Christine Conley and UGA.
The biggest story of the spring for the UGA defense has to be Paul Oliver's departure for the NFL via the supplemental draft after he was found academically ineligible for the '07 season. Oliver, the CB who's 4th quarter picks against Ole Miss and Georgia Tech sealed the deal for UGA last season, will certainly be missed, though Georgia fans need to be more concerned with a thin front seven than losing a man where there is plenty of experience and talent.

Last Season

Last season saw the Georgia D finish in the top half of the conference in all the major categories save Red Zone Defense, with the departed Quentin Moses (DE), Charles Johnson (DE), Tony Taylor (LB), and Jarvis Jackson (LB) all having a hand in the Dawgs performance. Both Moses and Johnson were All-SEC selections, while Taylor was the "heart" of the D, leading all tacklers with 96 and grabbing 7 picks, another team high. They'll be missed during the start of the season as UGA looks to break in plenty of new faces and a few old ones with scant experience.

Category Rank
Scoring Defense 4th
Passing Defense 2nd
Rushing Defense 3rd
Red Zone Defense 7th
Sacks By 4th
Total Defense 3rd
The Line

Outside of returning starter DT Jeff Owens, there aren't a lot of familiar names on the d-line for Georgia. Beside him at NT is Kade Weston, the only other player with real experience. Weston recorded 12 QB pressures and a pair of PBUs last year, appearing in all 13 games while starting six of them on his way to earning Freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News. Their bulk in the middle will be key for UGA's rush defense since both the end positions will be occupied by players with little or no experience. In the mix are Marcus Howard (fifth year senior) Roderick Battle (sophomore), Brandon Wood (redshirt freshman), Jarius Wynn (a JUCO transfer), and Demarcus Dobbs (redshirt freshman). Howard and Battle have the most experience among them, with Howard playing in all 13 last year despite not having a single start to his credit, and Battle also appearing in all 13. Wynn could also make a big push for serious playing time after being named the #6 JUCO player in America by Rivals and National Junior College Athletic Assocation 2nd Team All-America honors at Georgia Military College. Despite losing a lot of experience on the end, this unit should be effective given some time to gel.

The Linebackers

Losing all three starting LBs is never a good thing, but the Dawgs have some experience in both MLB Brandon Miller and WLB Dannell Ellerbe. Miller appeared in all 13 last season, with five starts at OLB in place of injured starters, and recorded 23 stops and 2 PBUs. On the weakside is Dannell Ellerbe, who apparently had only a so-so spring but still came out on top of the depth chart. He appeared in ten games last season, recording seven stops, and also saw time as a redshirt freshman in '05. At SLB, Darius Dewberry played in 11 games last season as a true freshman, recording six stops, while Akeem Dent, a redshirt freshman, could also push for playing time this year. This isn't the most experienced group you'll ever find, especially when you're trying to replace last season's veterans, but there is talent there.


SS Kelin Johnson
TKL SCK TFL PBU INT
60 2.5 3 1 2
The Secondary

Even with Oliver's unexpected departure and the loss of Tra Battle (who probably still haunts Brandon Cox's dreams), the secondary is Georgia's biggest strength this year. Asher Allen, Bryan Evans, and Ramarcus Brown are all proven at CB, while SS Kelin Johnson is the leading returning tackler. Johnson recored 60 stops last year while grabbing 2 picks, while at FS Reshad Jones and CJ Byrd are competing for the start. Byrd has a leg up over Jones, appearing in all 13 last year at FS (8 tkls, 1 pbu) and serving on special teams while Jones redshirted. This group is far more experienced than their compatriots up front, and should easily be one of the top units in the league by season's end.