An early look at the defensive two-deep

On Saturday, I wrote this about how the two-deep on defense would sort out over the coming months:

I’ve got no idea how this plays out, of course, and neither does anybody else. But how personnel get sorted out on the defensive side of the ball between now and September bears watching.

Yesterday, Seth Emerson decided to give that a shot based what he’s seen at practice so far, and what he’s heard from players.  Here’s his current educated guess:

DE: Garrison Smith … John Taylor
NT: Mike Thornton …. Chris Mayes
DE: Ray Drew OR Sterling Bailey
OLB: Jordan Jenkins … Chase Vasser
ILB: Amarlo Herrera … Ryne Rankin
ILB: Ramik Wilson …. Reggie Carter
Star: Josh Harvey-Clemons … Damian Swann
CB: Damian Swann … Devin Bowman
CB: Sheldon Dawson … Reggie Wilkerson
FS: Tray Matthews … Connor Norman
SS: Corey Moore OR Connor Norman

First thing you’ll probably notice is that Emerson isn’t laying out a 3-4 alignment, but rather a 3-3-5.  That’s based on the assumption that we’ll see that more than anything in the season opener against Clemson and at home against South Carolina.  When Georgia plays in its base defense,

Take out the star spot, and insert OLB, which right now would be James DeLoach and then Josh Dawson. – Move Harvey-Clemons to first-team strong safety. Matthews remains the starting free safety.

Second thing is Tray Matthews getting the nod to start at one of the safety positions.  But he’s not the only true freshman on Emerson’s list.

Third thing is that Grantham is going to have some green back-ups at second string inside linebacker.  It’s a good thing that’s a position of strength in this year’s recruiting class.

Obviously, there’s still a long way to go.  There are some JUCO kids coming in the summer whom I expect to get a fair crack at making the two deep, especially in the secondary.  Still, it’s interesting that enough impressions have been made to go this far.

Your thoughts?

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “An early look at the defensive two-deep

  1. JasonC

    I can’t find it now and I think it is paysite info anyway so a link might not help, but I believe Gentry Estes also took a stab at the D depth chart. He listed the nickel slightly different, with 2 true DL (Smith & Thorton/Mayes) and 2 OLBs with one of them definitely acting as a lineman (maybe Washington’s role last year). Otherwise pretty similar.

    I think the exciting thing is that we are going to have options at a few spots. R. Carter is getting a lot of praise early and Fluker, Floyd and a few others should also push for playing time.

    I know Grantham likes to have his 11, but we should have a solid 2-deep at some positions to keep guys fresh without huge drop off.

  2. hailtogeorgia

    I think Rankin and Carter’s inclusion in the two deep right now very well may be due to a limit of numbers there, as opposed to them having necessarily proven themselves. I don’t doubt they’re talented, but that one seems to be pretty fluid still.

    Bailey and Taylor both looked pretty good in the 3 on 3 drills the other day. Bailey manhandled Dallas Lee a time or two, and Taylor was looking pretty effective with his swim move as well. I think we could see a really strong four-deep at the end position.

    I’m worried about the nose spot…not so much that there are able bodies, but more the ability. Jenkins left a bad taste in a lot of folks’ mouths, but he and Kwame were good for us.

    I don’t doubt Tray Matthews ability, but I still think that some of the JUCO guys coming in will give him a run for his money in the secondary, particularly Shaq Fluker, but also Kennar Johnson.

    • Keep in mind that the challenge for Rankin and Carter at ILB is going to come from two more true freshmen who are coming this summer. Any way you look at it, the backups aren’t going to be experienced.

      • hailtogeorgia

        You’re right, they are being challenged by two incoming freshmen, but they’re two highly ranked incoming freshmen. I’m not trying to take anything away from Rankin and Carter, as they’re ranked 24th and 14th nationally at ILB by Rivals (and the usual caveats about recruiting rankings apply, of course), but Johnny O’Neal is ranked 16th nationally and 21st overall in Georgia (just one behind Carter), while Kimbrough is 6th nationally and the 3rd ranked overall player in Indiana.

        Again, rankings are rankings, and a spring practice with a team can certainly give a significant advantage, but I’d put money on Kimbrough at one spot…and I want to see Johnny O’Neal play just because it’s a damned awesome name.

        • Cojones

          Thanks for that info. It puts a few things into perspective. From the scrimmage results so far, I’d like to see Carter play also.

    • JasonC

      Right, but Carter seems to be getting a lot of praise from players and coaches. I know, I know, that’s what always happens, right Senator?

      • hailtogeorgia

        If I had to pick the one with more staying power, it’s Carter, for sure. Olivadotti said the other day that he played with a better base and a good football position, while Rankin was ‘just flying around trying to whack somebody’. A guy with solid fundamentals generally has a much better chance of starting early than a hard hitter who will forget their assignment.

        • JasonC

          And remember, Carter’s ranking could have been better if he wasn’t coming off an injury.

          • Cojones

            And our dumbass recruiters seem to end up better informed on player talent than the recruiting sites project sometimes. Gosh, we sure are lucky with these under-the-radar picks ( :) ).

            • Macallanlover

              Nail/head post right thar. Fanbases get their noses all bent over recruiting ratings done by 25-30 year olds who have never coached a down of football at the HS level, much less a top tier college program. I know they get many of the top players right, who couldn’t? Just follow the school planes and autos around and pay attention to the offer list. But it doesn’t give them the insight a top notch coach who not only makes his living in the arena, he actually knows what specific needs the team has and has been privy to the conversations with coaches who know the athlete best. These “experts” rarely find that diamond in the rough player, and certainly don’t go out on a public limb with them. Just look at who UGA/Bama/Fla/FSU/LSU/OK/USC/Clem/ etc. offers and assign 4-5 stars with the biggest offer list. Then watch a ll the message boards crash and whine when only one of theose lands that guy.

              Despite all the film, personal trips, and input from a variety of sources, it is still a roll of the dice. Why do so many five stars fall short, or 3 stars light it up? Athletes this age are beginning the last stages of their development cycle, and few, if any, HS games feature a matchup where the best athletes get tested even close to the way they will at the next level. Most HS games will have 1 player on the opposing side who is as gifted as the athete being viewed and they may not even have a head-to-head match up because of the positions they play. Let the coaches make those decisions, support the young man, don’t whine like the sky in falling, and watch how the same numbers of busts, and stars materialize.

  3. Ricky McDurden

    The fact that guys like Fluker, Floyd, Wiggins, Kimbrough, Johnson, Langley, Bostick, O’Neal, and Bellamy have yet to set foot on campus and already this lineup looks pretty good. Well, I’m working myself up into one of those hot and bothered Dawg porn sorta moods thinking about it… This summer may be a ton of fun to follow.

  4. Puffdawg

    for how much we lost on defense, there’s a fair amount of returning experienced mixed in there, especially if you include special teams.

  5. MenloDawg

    The DL will be stacked once John Atkins and Toby Johnson get on campus. I truly believe OLB is talented and deep as well with Jenkins, Stripling, DeLoach, Dawson, and Vasser. ILB is worrisome after Herrera. We’re counting on an unproven Ramik and true freshman. The top 2 CBs are awesome, then it immediately gets scary. Good thing JHC can play nickel. Richt and Grantham better be trolling the entire fanbase with the Connor Norman talk. Corey Moore or Shaq Fluker better lock down that 3rd safety spot.

    • dudetheplayer

      Agreed on Norman. Love the kid, but we would be in a bad place if he was forced to start at any point this season

  6. The devil of spring ball turning into spring excitement which turns into summer expectations is in full force. I’m trying to contain my expectations on this defense, but dammit it’s so hard. They look fast, athletic and versatile at almost every position. I worry about DB depth the most, but the thought of JHC on the field making plays is enough to have me salivating for Clemson. Now they need to avoid off-season trouble and stay healthy.

  7. dudetheplayer

    I understand the reservations toward ILB depth, but I am very excited about the two frosh we have coming in. I think Tim Kimbrough has a chance to be an absolute monster, and I think we’ll see early impact from both guys just like we saw with ‘Marlo his freshman year.

  8. WillTrane

    DL coach Chris Wilson. Just how much do you think he brings to the practice field and the film room in addition to coaching technique. I think his coming from MSU’s spread [scrimmages and how MSU handled some of its west opponents] and the West division are a big benefit to the Dawgs this spring, pre fall practice and fall.
    Good thing not to put players in a “box” but a roster and that DL package re opponents O.
    Are the Louisville Cardinals not a dynasty? No doubt they have some coaches, players, and teams.
    Just maybe our AD and department will take not of their performance.

    • Cojones

      Agree on Wilson. He seems to recruit well too. Some may have feared stepping in shit when he was hired whereas Wilson comes up smelling like the Rose Bowl.

  9. pete freeman

    Why would Grantham prefer Mathews at free safety vs. Josh Harvey Clemons? Seems like Mathews is the more physical/run stopper, and Clemons more fluid and athletic. I doubt Clemons would get beat too often on the few jump balls that Rambo lost out on last year.

  10. shane#1

    Everything is very fluid now but I am beginning to see what could be a very good D with a lot of options in special packages. Like buying a brand new Caddy with all the bells and whistles. Like that new Caddy someone smarter than me will have to figure out how all those options work. I can see more than just the nickle with this team. Say a lighter and quicker D line for a team like Tech with JHC playing star back. Then for LSU or UF bring in the elephants. This could really be a fun D to coach!

  11. dawgman

    The carter kid was waaay under rated. Remember he is coming back from a completely torn ACL. Played his senior year with a bum leg and still was a beast. With spring under his belt and a summer to get stronger he is going to be hard to move in the fall for one of the incoming freshman.

  12. I don’t want to piss in everyone’s fire, but last year we were killed by the power run and this year we will be substantially smaller on DL with less experienced ILBs. It’s a power running team’s wet dream.

    I remember when Willie set out to recruit speed over size. Not saying that’s our current recruiting philosophy but the Dawg Pornfest here in the comments is suggesting that if we had only been faster last year we’d be ok.

    We may have enough to win the East again but…

    • I think that’s why you’re seeing Taylor being moved around. Also why DeLoach will play in the base 3-4.

      The coaches claim to be mindful of the lesson from the SECCG. We’ll see what they’ve learned.

  13. dawgman

    Jimmy Johnson said it best…”Speed Kills”. Big and slow is not a good combination. To be successful with the 3-4 D you have to have a good mix of both. We are not as big, but we are big enough and MUCH faster. The problem is going to be inexperiance. I’m optomistic but realistic. We have to be able to hold on through good offesive play until the D can gain enough experiance to be a factor. Thats all.