Jenkins is right.
Georgia lost a lot of skill on the defensive side of the ball, but they are not being replaced by a group of 11 scrubs.
The massive and unmistakable difference between the 2012 defense and the 2013 is size. Georgia's now slimmer on defense, and fans will almost certainly be able to tell the difference from the start, but that doesn't necessarily make the defense less effective.
The defense should be considerably lighter, but not necessarily less talented. Jordan Jenkins, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and the rest are not without talent. They are just without the girth the starts of the 2012 defense had. Alec Ogletree wasn't just a first-round talent… he was also massive. He's being replaced by slimmer (on purpose) Amarlo Herrera.
Size does matter – always has; always will – but these guys aren't "small". They are just smaller than the group before. Maybe they will get pushed around more – or maybe they won't run out of steam in the 2013 SEC Championship.
What will have to happen is that one playmaker – probably Jenkins – will have to step up to be the game changer. Mark Richt said Friday he wasn't sure that Jenkins was yet good enough to command game-changing status from the opposition.
"I don't think teams are going to say ‘We've got to get a plan for Jordan Jenkins,'" Richt said. "But that remains to be seen. I think he'll have a lot of the same opportunities he had last year."
Jenkins may be in that situation because the Dawgs will be diverse on defense – perhaps eclectic is the word that should be used. There are all sorts of body types and skill sets to slide into positions of needs. If Todd Grantham is still about matchups then he should still be able to matchup pretty well when he wants to.
Last year Georgia was big. Now the Dawgs are diverse on defense. The outside linebackers, as an example, aren't all the same – now the body types range from stout James Deloach to skinny Leonard Floyd.
There's young and old on the returning defense. There's tall and short; white and black; big and small. But the one thing this defense is missing isn't talent – as Jenkins points out – its experience.
"People can think what they want to think," linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "We know what we are doing."
Time will be the final judge, but I'm siding with Herrera and Jenkins right now.