ESPN is sky-high on the future of Georgia's defense

On3 imageby:Jake Rowe04/26/23

JakeMRowe

Georgia has a long-time defensive coordinator running its program in Kirby Smart. It has a veteran former head coach as a co-defensive coordinator in Will Muschamp. It also has one of the best young minds in the game, Glenn Schumann, calling the defense.

Those guys are just three of the reasons why ESPN has the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in its future-defense power rankings. As odd as it sounds, there was a time when UGA wasn’t No. 1. It was last year when Clemson held the top spot.

That was before Georgia, seamlessly for all intents and purposes, replaced five first-round defenders from the 2021 team and fielded another elite defense in 2022.

Scouting the Bulldogs: One of the major curiosities entering last season was how Georgia’s defense would fare after losing a record five NFL first-round draft picks, several other notable players and coordinator Dan Lanning. The 2022 unit wasn’t quite as dominant but barely dropped off in helping the team to its second straight national title. The Bulldogs led the nation in rushing defense, ranked second in third-down efficiency and fifth in points allowed. They don’t lose as much star power this season, although Jalen Carter is irreplaceable in the middle of the line, and standouts such as linebacker Nolan Smith and defensive backs Christopher Smith and Kelee Ringo also exit Athens. Georgia looks loaded at positions such as inside linebacker and safety. Smael Mondon and Jamon Dumas-Johnson combined for 146 tackles, including 17 for loss (four sacks by Dumas-Johnson). Free safety Malaki Starks and star Javon Bullard help anchor a secondary that also brings back starting cornerback Kamari Lassiter.”

ESPN highlights the loss of Carter and for good reason. He’s talented enough to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But the Bulldogs experienced life without him last season.

Carter barley played in weeks two through five and didn’t play at all in weeks six and seven. The former five-star prospect suffered a sprained ankle on the first play of the 2022 season and then a knee injury in the Missouri game. He came back for the Florida game and was a force for the Bulldogs down the stretch.

But Georgia brings back a host of veteran defensive linemen in Zion Logue, Nazir Stackhouse and Warren Brinson. It also added big-time prospect Jordan Hall in the 2023 class.

The Bulldog defense has been top five in points per game in three of the last four seasons. It has ranked No. 1 in two of those seasons. It has ranked in the top 15 in yards per play in each of the past four seasons with three of those defenses ranking in the top 10 and two in the top two.

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