1. Azeez Ojulari (RSoph.)
2. Adam Anderson (Jr.)
Ojulari has 27 tackles and a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, two fumbles forced, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and a team-high 25 quarterback hurries. Anderson has 11 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, 15 quarterback hurries, and one pass breakup.
Being No. 1 or No. 2 on the depth chart doesn’t mean a ton at this spot because Ojulari. Smith snd Johnson are key pieces to UGA’s defense. Ojulari is a more advanced run defender but he also led the team in sacks a year ago. At 6-foot-3 250 pounds, he’s built more like a traditional 4-3 defensive end and played a ton with his hand on the ground a year ago. Smith is more of the 3-4 outside linebacker type but he, too, is effective against the run. Johnson becomes a big-time possibility here because he added strength and mass during the off-season. He has the best frame of the bunch and might be ready to contribute on every down.
1. Nolan Smith (Soph.)
Smith has 22 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 14 quarterback hurries.
As we’ve said many times before, the SAM position is really only relevant in the base defense and because of all the three-receiver sets, the Bulldogs are only in base about 15 to 20 percent of the time. Still, the SAM has a role on early downs when Georgia will ask that guy to slide out and play over the slot. Anderson basically plays his own position on passing downs where he is asked to rush, stunt, spy, and drop into coverage. Jermaine Johnson transferred to Florida State after the win over South Carolina.
1. Quay Walker (Jr.)
2. Nate McBride (Sr.)
Rian Davis (RFr.)
Rice, second on the team in tackles, has opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the Senior Bowl. Walker has 36 tackles, one tackle for loss, and five quarterback hurries. McBride has five tackles and one quarterback hurry. Davis has one tackle.
Walker came on strong at the end of preseason practice and will now audition for the starting role in 2021. Davis was dinged up to most of preseason camp and has had a really tough time staying healthy in Athens. If he can get some good injury luck, he should be able to compete for a role.
1. Nakobe Dean (Soph.)
2. Channing Tindall (Jr.)
Dean leads the team with 64 tackles and has 1.5 sacks, with eight quarterback hurries. Tindall has 14 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, and three quarterback hurries.
The reason we have Rice at MIKE is because it gets Dean on the field at WILL and that’s something Georgia wants to do. Dean has the raw talent to be special at the position and he allows the defense to match up in the passing game because of his coverage ability. He’s probably going to be the guy who stays on the field in the Dime defense, too. He has generated all sorts of positive buzz this preseason. Tindall has showed promise over his first two years, primarily as a blitzer, but he’s at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to getting on the field consistently. He has a chance to be more than a role player. McBride is entering his final season and is likely bound for more special teams work. Marshall will compete with McBride and Davis for a fifth spot.