Richt: Keep Dawg Defense healthy

When Mark Richt arrived in Athens more than four years ago many predicted that his offense would be the power behind Georgia's winning. However, it has been the Bulldog defense that has powered the Dawgs to bowl wins and back to back 11 win seasons.

Richt said the Georgia defense should be just as good this season because all of the key figures return. "A lot of the key names are coming back: David Pollack, Odell Thurman, and Thomas Davis," said Richt of his top three defenders.

Perhaps Georgia's most talented player on defense, Pollack, gave the Bulldogs a shot in the arm in the spring when he decided to return for his final season at Georgia. Pollack has reportedly been reminding his teammates during summer workouts that he returned for his senior year to do one thing: win the national title.

But Richt says that winning it all is easier said than done.

"It's exciting to hear people say good things about you but it so hard to predict what's going to happen," he said. And Richt should know; the Bulldogs were decimated by injuries last season. Several backup defenders were forced into the starting lineup by the end of the year.

"From now until the first game there are 29 practices and you never know what's going to happen. Last year we had a lot happen between now and the first game," he continued. Georgia still won its first game in a 30-0 rout of Clemson. The defense was outstanding against Clemson. They set the tone early and did not allow the Tigers to capitalize on any opportunities. But later in the season the Bulldogs were not able to overcome injures as easily.

Now Richt says that some of those players that stepped up for the first time in their careers in Death Valley have a chance to move into the spotlight permanently this season.

"You also have guys like Arnold Harrison, Gerald Anderson, Kedric Golston. They have a chance to move into that upper echelon of players," said Richt. All three had solid games against Clemson last year.

Still, the head coach emphasized that the Bulldogs are very young and thin after the first team unit. He says keeping the starters healthy will be critical to a championship run.

"Behind (the starters) are a lot of young players that don't have a lot of experience. I think the key on defense will be to keep the starters healthy and keep the younger guys progressing because we may need them to start for us," he said.

Last season that happened and the younger players couldn't propel Georgia to another SEC crown. This season, however, last year's younger defensive backups are starters at several positions.

"We are going to have a chance to be a good football team. We hope to be able to compete with everybody that we play. I mean we are going to go into every game thinking that we have a chance to win it and hopefully we will," said Richt.

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