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Despite the offense's loss of Malcolm Mitchell to a torn ACL, Todd Grantham's defense will welcome back a couple of players the Bulldogs could certainly have used in last Saturday's 38-35 loss to Clemson - safeties Corey Moore and Josh Harvey-Clemons.
By now, their stories should be familiar to Bulldog fans.
Moore missed most of fall camp nursing a sprained right knee, while Harvey-Clemons missed the Clemson contest as a result of a one-game suspension after being implicated in an incident over the use of marijuana on May 15 in a UGA dorm room along with former Bulldog Ty Flournoy-Smith.
The timing couldn't be better for head coach Mark Richt, who is expected to waste little time incorporating the duo into his starting lineup, along with freshmen Leonard Floyd and Tray Matthews - two newcomers he sees as being key to what he hopes is Georgia's eventual defensive success.
"Josh being back is big for us. He'll be able to play in our base and our nickel scheme. Corey Moore, we believe, will be back, too, so we'll be able to insert Corey as well," Richt said. "We still don't want to lose the progress that we think Leonard Floyd is making. We want him to continue to get a lot of reps for us, so it's going to be a little bit of a challenge to get Leonard, Corey, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews on the field at the same time, but we'll figure it out."
Actually, that will be defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's job.
Although junior Connor Norman did an admirable job, Grantham said he's excited about getting the versatile Harvey-Clemons back in his starting lineup, both at safety and at star, which Floyd played for much of the game against the Tigers.
Harvey-Clemons was not made available for comment.
"I think it gives you a little more flexibility at the Nickel position," Grantham said. "He's really like a DB covering. Leonard's very athletic an can do those things but he's more like a linebacker in his coverage skills, which is fine for a guy that's going to be a 265 pound guy in a couple of years."
As for Harvey-Clemons, Grantham said the former Lowndes standout should provide a spark to a defense which was bitten by two big passing plays in last week's loss to Clemson.
At least that's what he's hoping.
"Anytime you get a good player, it gives you spark because he's a multiple guy who can play the Nickel, he's got man-coverage skills, he's a good blitzer," Grantham said. "He can play the safety position and he's an athletic guy. I think it will help. I think he's the kind of guy you want when you're playing a physical running team, because he can tackle big, physical backs. He'll obviously be a starter in our game-plan."
At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, you won't find many safeties talker than the former five-star performer, who Grantham said was initially penciled in to play outside linebacker.
But once he got to campus a summer ago, those plans changed.
"Yeah, my impression was he was a really good athlete. Where he was going to play I wasn't sure," Grantham said. "I thought he could play inside backer, I thought he could play outside backer and I thought he could play safety."
Grantham hasn't be disappointed.
"The thing with him is, you didn't know if he was going to take off and be an outside backer, or if he was going to stay where he is relatively weight wise and be a safety," Grantham said. "We thought he was pretty athletic but once we got him here and saw his coverage skills, saw his length
he creates a new kind of dimension for that position. We kind of chose to go that route with him and do that."
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