The last of the comments I’ll mention, about the potential shift in defensive philosophy:
More than once, Smart has had to remind himself of such this preseason when the offensive line has put a beating on the defensive line. One of the things he said the Dawgs have to do better defensively this season is pressure the quarterback.
“We’ve got to affect the passer better and get a better rush,” Smart said. “We did that against Alabama. We gave up some points but affected the quarterback. We got to him and knocked him down and hit him. We were a little more rush the passer first and play the run second. That’s a little more of the demeanor we’re taking on this year.”
In particular, Smart said redshirt freshman outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari has had a strong camp along with senior defensive lineman Tyler Clark. He likes this freshmen group as well, including linebackers Nolan Smith and Nakobe Dean.
“We’ve got some active, athletic guys who can help us,” Smart said. “We don’t match up super well against our (offensive line) guys every day in practice. We’re getting smashed some, but they’re going to do that to a lot of people. I mean, they’re grown men, but that’s just going to make us better.”
He knows the risks he runs emphasizing havoc, but he’s more willing to take those this season. Why? I suspect it’s a combination of what he took away from last year’s SECCG, along with the personnel he has to deploy this year — although I do wonder what he’d be saying if Mel Tucker were still his defensive coordinator.
To me, this is going to be the change in approach to keep an eye on throughout 2019.