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New defensive line coach Chris Wilson mentioned back in the fall that it would be "a process" before his unit began to make the kind of progress it would need to in order to have success in the SEC.
It appears he's starting to get his wish.
"We're improving, and that's been the key goal every week, to focus on the things that take no talent - our preparation, our fundamentals and our effort," Wilson said. "Those are the things that have really been a big emphasis. I'm a strong believer in you don't always get what you want, but you get what you emphasize. That's been the key for us - the steady improvement."
One look at the statistics will point that out.
After struggling to stop the run against Clemson and South Carolina, the Bulldogs allowed just seven to North Texas and 77 in last week's big 44-41 win over LSU.
In 2012, the Bulldogs' defensive line (ends and nose guards) combined for just 3.5 sacks. Through four games this year that number stands at 4.5 as Sterling Bailey, Chris Mayes, Mike Thornton, Ray Drew and Garrison Smith have each gotten their hands on opposing quarterbacks.
"That's been a pleasant surprise but we're stopping the run on early downs," Wilson said. "We've been able to stop the run and get into some longer yardage situations, and when you do that it really creates some great opportunities, like rushing the passer and we were able to do that a time or two."
A senior, Smith takes particular pride in what he's seen thus far.
When the season began, he along with Drew and Thornton were the only returning defensive linemen with actual SEC experience.
Now that others are getting that taste, the results are starting to show.
"It's a family, man. There's no hating going on. My backup who comes in for me, I want him to do as good as what I'm trying to do. I want everybody to do well," Smith said. "This isn't a selfish team. It's not about personal glory. We're just worried about doing what we need to do to be a successful team."
Along with the afore mentioned Bailey, Mayes, Thornton, Drew and Smith, redshirt freshman John Taylor and junior college transfer Toby Johnson have played integral roles.
But it's been the addition of Mayes that seems to have made the biggest impact of late.
Sidelined with a concussion for much of preseason camp, Mayes didn't make his debut until Week 3 against North Texas. He followed that up with a solid effort against LSU, helping to stymie the Tigers' downhill rushing attack, led by Jeremy Hill.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham doesn't think it was a coincidence, either.
"Chris is a physical guy, a big guy that's powerful inside," he said of the 324-pounder. "He's hard to block and he can manage double-teams. He along with all the other guys up front have done a really good job."
Wilson said Mayes received between 20-25 snaps against the Tigers and should see similar opportunities Saturday afternoon at Tennessee (3:30, CBS).
"Anywhere between 25-30 reps, that's what you look for," Wilson said. "When you're in the SEC, you're going to play games like that. We were fortunate to win the game in the last two minutes and that's because guys were fresh, besides (Bailey) who played about 60, nobody else played above 50, which again is what you look for."
But for all their success, Georgia's defensive front could well face its toughest test against the Volunteers.
According to head coach Mark Richt, Tennessee has the best OL in the SEC and perhaps the entire country.
He may not be far off with his assertion.
Four of Tennessee's starting offensive linemen - left tackle Antonio Richardson, center James Stones, right guard Zach Fulton and right tackle Ju'Wuan James - have already been named or nominated for some sort of post-season award.
Bailey says he and his line mates are looking forward to the challenge.
"We played really stout in the run game last weekend," he said. "We'll be looking to do the same against Tennessee so this will be a good test."
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