But Jonathan Ledbetter might be a bright spot at that spot, which Kirby hopes will improve before the fall with its conditioning.
“He looks better,” Kirby said of Ledbetter. “He’s quicker and playing faster. He’s been pretty consistent so far of the guys up front. You get the same consistent performance.”
The Bulldogs return ten defensive linemen from last year’s squad. Ledbetter was suspended for the first six games of the season for an off-season arrest. Since then, the Tucker native has been playing catchup with his peers in on-the-field production, but he’s likely passed all of them now in terms of conditioning.
“He’s got the stamina to go play three or four plays in a row and run things down,” Kirby said of Ledbetter. “Some of the other guys (on UGA’s defensive line) can’t do that. And you can’t sub. They are not going to let you sub.”
The Bulldogs faced high-tempo offenses last season in games against North Carolina, Missouri, Auburn and TCU. Even Georgia Tech will structure hurry-up offenses that trap defenses into no-substitution situations, which makes the second-year coach aware of how critical conditioning is for his defensive line.
“How many guys can we play up front, and just leave them in the game? Right now (Ledbetter) might be the only guy who is playing at that level,” Kirby said. “And I think it comes from his off-season conditioning. He took it really serious, and took pride in it, and I hope it continues to pay off for him."