Rebuilding Georgia's defensive line
Wading through all that was said during Thursday’s preseason press conference with head coach Kirby Smart can be quite a task.
However, one line during the session stood out from everything else that he had to say. It came unsolicited during his opening statement.
“We've got a lot of good players to replace, and we've got a lot of good players to replace them with,” Smart said.
Whether Smart offered those words to assuage the feelings of his fan base, it’s unclear. What is clear, however, is that despite some key losses, especially on the defensive side, Smart said he’s excited with what he’s seen.
That includes the defensive line, where building depth is going to the biggest key for Smart during camp.
“Every day we're out at practice, we make those guys go over and go against the first offense. That's what we call our developmental squad or scout squad. They get a lot of work in, they get a lot of bowl practice in,” Smart said. “This year, they got the extra week for the championship game. I mean, that's a lot of work put in to get those guys prepared.”
Despite the losses of players like first-round draft picks Jordan Davis, Travon Walker, and Devonte Wyatt, Smart rattled off eight other names while breaking down the position Thursday.
Of course, All-American candidate Jalen Carter headlines the group. But Smart is also high on the rest of the talent at his disposal, including players like Zion Logue, Nazir Stackhouse, Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, Warren Brinson, and Bill Norton. Smart also mentioned redshirt freshman Jonathan Jefferson, along with true freshmen Bear Alexander and Christen Miller. Others to watch include Tramel Walthour, freshman Mykel Williams, C.J. Madden, and Shone Washington.
“They're not Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt and we're not asking them to be. If they were those guys, they would have been out there last year a lot more often,” Smart said. “So, we're excited about where they are. Optimistic that those guys will be very productive. We're asking, you know, Zion, Jalen, Naz, Warren Brinson, Bill Norton, Jonathan Jefferson, all those guys. The two young guys, Bear and Christen, they're going to get thrust up there and have to go out and compete and give us a depth and give us snaps. I’m excited to see what all those guys can do on the defensive line. We certainly need some guys to step up at that position.”
Logue, the apparent spokesman for the defensive line after being brought out for interviews on Thursday, believes the players in the defensive line room have what it takes to make that happen.
“I don’t question our talent at all. I think we have all the talent we need in our room to be a championship caliber team,” he said. “We just have to put the work forward to get there. But I think we'll be fine.”
If there’s one common denominator each of the aforementioned players possesses, Smart says it’s the desire to prove themselves on the field.
“Really, both sides of the ball and special teams have been hungry up to this point. We only spent a limited amount of time with them over the summer and the last couple weeks. There’s lot of excited guys,” Smart said. “We talked to them (Wednesday) night, about the number of snaps to replace. It's remarkable the number of snaps, especially special teams, that we have to replace. They've been excited, opportunistic. Some guys have changed their bodies a little bit and are in better shape. I'm excited to go see them practice. They're excited to get out there.”