Dawgs' D to answer questions

BIRMINGHAM – Maybe Georgia fans would feel better about their defense if they had a little more perspective.

As it stands now, the only look anyone has had at the Bulldog defense is the G-Day game, an offensive extravaganza that ended with 55 points and 642 yards of total offense.

"The fans didn't see the couple practices the defense just smashed the offense," senior Georgia center Fernando Velasco said here during the final session of SEC Media Days. "We have no worries on defense."

That may not be entirely true. The Bulldogs return just three starters – safety Kelin Johnson, Georgia's other representative here, cornerback Bryan Evans and defensive tackle Jeff Owens – from a group that finished third in the SEC in total defense (258.2 ypg allowed) and fourth in points allowed (17.6 per game) last year.

Georgia gave up too many big plays throughout spring practice and the G-Day game was a cause for concern, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said.

"He wasn't pleased with the performance," said senior linebacker Brandon Miller. "I wasn't pleased with it. Right now, we still have a long ways to go to be that defense, that Erk Russell-type defense. We have a long ways to go, but I think we'll get there."

The biggest question mark for head coach Mark Richt is who will replace ends Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson.

"I'm not sure how much edge pressure we can create," Richt said. "Those guys brought their own pressure. You didn't have to create a lot for them. You just lined them up and let them go. I'm not saying we won't get that from Marcus Howard or Rod Battle or whoever, but I'm not sure what's going to happen."

Miller expects former GMC defensive end Jarius Wynn to immediately take up some of that slack.

"Jarius Wynn is like Charles Johnson already," Miller said. "He's just crazy."

Several defenders, and even Richt, echoed Velasco's assessment that the defense held its own in spring practice as a whole.

"If you had seen the first scrimmage, you'd have seen the defense just stone the offense," Richt said. "I think in some ways, it's healthy that both sides of the ball had success and both sides of the ball had some defeats, too. Nobody can think, ‘Hey, we've arrived.' I think there is a heightened awareness of how hard we have to work."

Owens has no concerns, he said.

"We know what we can do as a defense," Owens said. "I've got high expectations for this group. I believe we can dominate. We have the ability and the talent to dominate."

Dawg Post Top Stories