I don’t want to do too much hand wringing over the state of Georgia’s defense. After all,
It’s hard to overstate just how dominant Georgia’s defense was in 2021. The Bulldogs gave up just 10 points per game as eight opponents were either shut out or held to single digits. Only Alabama scored more than 20 points against Georgia and the Bulldogs responded by beating the Crimson Tide by 15 points in the national title game.
While the top five tacklers from last year’s team are part of those eight starters gone to the NFL, the great news for Georgia is that a ton of players saw playing time in 2021. DL Jalen Carter looks poised to be the next dominant Georgia defensive lineman after recording 37 tackles and three sacks. Robert Beal led the team with 6.5 sacks despite recording just 23 tackles. And linebacker Nolan Smith was a force as well. He could easily emerge as the team’s leading tackler in 2022 after getting 56 stops last season.
Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith are back in the secondary after combining for five interceptions. You likely remember Ringo’s game-sealing pick-six against the Tide in January. Five-star 2022 signees Julian Humphrey and Jaheim Singletary could also see early playing time while Georgia also signed three other five-star recruits along the defensive line in this year’s class. Casual fans may see a lot of players they don’t immediately recognize in Georgia’s Week 1 game against Oregon. But they aren’t going to notice much of a talent drop-off.
If I’m nervous about the secondary — and I am, at least a little — who’s on Georgia’s early schedule capable of taking advantage of it? Oregon, which will start a new quarterback and was 62nd in passer rating last season? Ditto for 73rd-ranked South Carolina?