Bulldogs Blog

Post-spring depth chart: Defense

ATHENS - Now it's time to project the defensive depth chart. That means it's also time to make my head spin.



How do you account for the known suspensions and the reported suspensions? How do you account for all the position changes that wacky Todd Grantham has in store?



Well, you have to try. So let's proceed as if there were no suspensions, but explain at each spot what will or might happen:



DEFENSIVE ENDS



Starter: Abry Jones, Sr.

Top backup: Ray Drew, Soph.

In the mix: Sterling Bailey, R-Fr.



DEFENSIVE ENDS



Starter: Cornelius Washington

Top backup: Garrison Smith



THE SKINNY: You would've said before the spring that Smith was a starter, having done a good job replacing DeAngelo Tyson at the end of last season. But then Washington was moved there to get acclimated to it, and did so well that Grantham agreed he may have to keep him there. (Washington, when I pinned him down on whether to call him a OLB or DE, chose end.)



ON THE WAY: James DeLoach. (He can also play OLB, and the OLBs to be listed later can also play DE.)



CHANCE IT CHANGES: 50 percent ... It's not certain you can pencil Washington in here. Of course, that could change on a week-to-week basis. The certainty is Jones at one end spot and Washington starting somewhere. Smith will still get plenty of time, especially when Washington plays linebacker. Drew will also get plenty of reps. It will be a bit harder for Bailey and the youngsters to crack the rotation.



____



NOSE TACKLES



Starter: John Jenkins, Sr.

Top backup: Kwame Geathers, Jr.

In the mix: Mike Thornton, Soph.



THE SKINNY: Jenkins has just a nose - get it? - of a lead over Geathers, but both will play. Thornton has yet to play much.



ON THE WAY: Jonathan Taylor, John Atkins.



CHANCE IT CHANGES: 10 percent ... Jenkins and Geathers showed what they could do last year. No need to change it up much. Where it could get interesting is whether Taylor and/or Atkins push their way into some playing time. Taylor could also play at end.



____



WILL LINEBACKER



Starter:

Jarvis Jones, Jr.



Top backup:

T.J. Stripling, Jr.



In the mix:

Rueben Faloughi, Jr.





SAM LINEBACKER



Starter:

Chase Vasser, Jr.



Top backup:

Ramik Wilson, Soph.



In the mix:

Dexter Morant, Soph.





THE SKINNY:

Jones could end up the Will (weakside) or Sam (strongside) depending on the play. But I have to put him somewhere. As for the other spot, Washington coould still end up there, but Vasser got the start on G-Day, so we'll go with that. Wilson is also a real factor there, but so are ...





ON THE WAY:

Jordan Jenkins, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Josh Dawson, Leonard Floyd.





CHANCE IT CHANGES:

85 percent. ... You have to think Grantham put Washington at end because he knew there was a lot of talent coming in that could play right away at outside linebacker. While there's little chance a freshman would get the start in the opener - Vasser and Wilson bring experience, and Grantham relies on experience - you could see Jenkins or Harvey-Clemons getting a serious amount of playing time.





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MIKE LINEBACKER



Starter:

Mike Gilliard, Sr.



Top backup:

Christian Robinson, Sr.



In the mix:

Wilson.





MO LINEBACKER



Starter:

Alec Ogletree, Jr.



Top backup:

Amarlo Herrera, Soph.



In the mix:

Brandon Burrows, Soph.





THE SKINNY:

And here's where the suspension situation starts to rear its head. What will happen with Ogletree? How long will he be out? Good questions. For now, we just know he'll be the starter if he's available, and that Gilliard is the most likely to be next to him. But Robinson, the former starter, and Herrera, the next man up, are also going to play a lot. Wilson cross-trained inside as well, while Burrows was once again slowed by injury.





ON THE WAY:

None. (Until 2013).





CHANCE IT CHANGES:

25 percent (not accounting for suspensions) ... Gilliard could still get a push for his spot from Robinson. They're basically co-starters. If Ogletree is out, Robinson could also replace him, but so could Herrera. Yes, I know that's a lot of butt-covering on my part. The point is, at this spot Georgia feels it has five guys that can play.





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CORNERBACK



Starter:

Sanders Commings



Top backup:

Damian Swann



In the mix:

Devin Bowman, R-Fr.





CORNERBACK



Starter:

Branden Smith



Top backup:

Malcolm Mitchell



In the mix:

Blake Sailors, Jr.





THE SKINNY:

And this is where the suspensions cause even more havoc. We knows Commings is out two games. Smith's discipline, assuming there is some, has not been announced. Bank on Swann and probably Mitchell being the starter for the opener, followed by Devin Bowman in a nickel back role.





ON THE WAY:

Sheldon Dawson.





CHANCE IT CHANGES:

10 percent (assuming Smith suspension). ... Dawson figures to play just because of depth issues, but he still has to beat out Sailors and perhaps even walk-on Luis Capella. I feel fairly confident in predicting Swann and Mitchell as the starters for BUffalo, but when Smith returns (perhaps the second week) and then when Commings comes back (for the third week) it gets really interesting. Does Mitchell move permanently back to offense? Does he stay as a nickel back?





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FREE SAFETY



Starter:

Bacarri Rambo, Sr.



Top backup:

Corey Moore, Soph.



In the mix:

Quintavius Harrow, Soph.





STRONG SAFETY



Starter:

Shawn Williams, Sr.



Top backup:

Connor Norman, Soph.



In the mix:

Marc Deas, Soph.





THE SKINNY:

If you're not aware of Rambo's situation, let us know how you enjoyed that cave you were in the past month. So Williams is the only certainty in the secondary. Moore figures to step into Rambo's spot, but don't rule out Norman for key playing time either. And then ...





ON THE WAY:

Harvey-Clemons?





CHANCE IT CHANGES:

20 percent (assuming Rambo suspension) ... Deas, after his change of heart and return to the team, could push Norman for playing time. We're still interested to see what happens with Harvey-Clemons. Grantham has said the Valdosta native projects as an OLB who will also play a nickel-back role. (And Mark Richt has reiterated that Harvey-Clemons can play receiver in red-zone situations.) Still, we cling to the notion that if OLB gets very crowded, and safety thins out, Harvey-Clemons has the build and athleticism to play safety. Not likely, but can't be ruled out either.

***

Before anyone asks about special teams, I'll just gloss over that for now. The specialist area was not an emphasis in spring practice, because they were awaiting the freshman kicker (Marshall Morgan) and punter (Collin Barber). The punt and kick return specialists are also up in the air.

All of that will be extremely interesting to watch in the fall.

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