Replacing seven starters on defense leaves Georgia fans with questions about what that unit will look like heading into 2021. Yet, if you look closely, head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning have already given us the answers.
Heading into the Peach Bowl, Georgia’s defensive staff knew they were facing an uphill battle in retooling their defense for the 2021 season. Replacing seven starters, most of them being in the secondary, is enough to give any coach sleepless nights, much less a staff that has to face an undefeated Cincinnati team. However, the Georgia staff saw this as an opportunity to experiment heading into the offseason. They took it as a chance to get as much on tape as possible.
Here is what we learned from those experiments and what they tell us about this unit in the future:
*Editors Note: Robert Crosby contributed to this piece*
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Georgia’s Inexperience in the Secondary Shows
Georgia may have one of the most talented defensive back rooms in the country, but game reps are sorely lacking headed into 2021. That lack of experience hinders their ability to disguise coverages in the same way the Dawgs have in recent years. Simple, easy-to-read coverages replaced the complex schemes Georgia had been running throughout the year. This may not be true for all of the 2021 season, but expect Georgia to look a little less sophisticated in early games.
Letting the Dawgs Off the Leash
When breaking in a new secondary, one of the most significant gifts for the unit would be a devastating pass rush. A broken coverage is meaningless to a quarterback that doesn’t have enough time to throw the ball, and the Dawgs have the talent and experience in the front seven to make that happen. Under Smart, Georgia has opted for a controlled pass rush focused on preventing explosive run plays and not letting opposing quarterbacks escape the pocket. However, rumors from the Butts-Mehre facility indicate that Jordan Davis and Co. may get turned loose this upcoming season.
Expect to See a More Traditional 3-4 Defense
As more college teams have decided to move the ball through the air, defensive coaches have had to adapt to this changing landscape. Smart and the defensive coaching staff are no exception. In recent years, this has led Georgia to remain in nickel formation for most of its defensive snaps. Look for this trend to change slightly this year.
Smart created a stir at the opening of spring practice by announcing that outside linebacker Adam Anderson would get reps at the STAR position this year, but don’t let the terminology fool you. This isn’t a new role for Anderson. In fact, this means that Georgia will be moving back towards their base defense. This allows them to get more pass rushers on the field at one time and more opportunities to create havoc.
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