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SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia defense has its ‘man in the middle’ in sophomore Jordan Davis
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SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia defense has its ‘man in the middle’ in sophomore Jordan Davis

SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia defense has its ‘man in the middle’ in sophomore Jordan Davis

SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia defense has its ‘man in the middle’ in sophomore Jordan Davis

Georgia football-spring preview-Jordan Davis is Bulldogs' man in the middle-Georgia Bulldogs

PRE-SPRING FOOTBALL ANALYSIS

Part X: The defensive tackles

This is Part 10 in a series breaking down and analyzing each position group for the Georgia Bulldogs in advance of spring football practice, which is scheduled to begin on March 19.

ATHENS — Jordan Davis is a noseguard in every sense of the football term. He’s 6-feet, 6 inches tall — 6-8 when measured to the top of his hair — and weighs at least 320 pounds. That’s what Georgia lists him as weighing. He was 355 as a senior at Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High, since he’s gotten in the weight room at UGA, he can make 330 look svelte.

Whatever his weight, Davis gives the Bulldogs what they need in the middle of their defense.

“He hasn’t arrived yet,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart warned of the rising sophomore. “But of all our kids that I’m most proud of, he’s worked the hardest to get where he is. … This kid has grinded. He’s grinded himself into a very productive, hard-to-block player.”

Davis earned freshman All-America honors while playing in 11 of Georgia’s 14 games and starting four. But his wasn’t an immediate impact. A 3-star prospect coming out of high school, Davis showed up to campus overweight and was not in the Bulldogs’ immediate plans. He got on the field early only against second-level competition and because Georgia was thin at his position, no pun intended.

But by running and working out extra on the side, Davis was able to achieve the goal weight that Smart set for him — 320 — and start getting into the interior line rotation on a regular basis. It wasn’t until the LSU game in the seventh week of the season that Davis started logging the majority of snaps in the interior gaps. After recording seven tackles against the Tigers, Davis started the next three games four of the next six at what is technically the “noseguard” position.

After starting against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Davis suffered a back injury in the weight room and was unable to play against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. He’s expected to make a full recovery for spring ball.

“It was just about him developing and learning the system and getting in shape and what-not,” said fellow tackle Michael Barnett. “I just think he’s a phenomenal player who’s takes it all in and buys into what we’re telling him when we try to coach him up. I think he’s going to be a ball player and a play-maker here in the future.”

Davis joined Barnett and Julian Rochester in a three-man rotation covering the interior gaps between the opposing centers and guards. Technically, Georgia is a 3-4 base defense built around a noseguard who plays head up on the center. But the majority of the time the Bulldogs line up in what amounts to a 4-2-5, with an outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage as an additional edge rusher.

Davis was usually on the field for first and second down, but would often be subbed out on third down for a quicker player. Davis hopes to develop into more an every-down lineman eventually.

“He doesn’t play a lot on third down, but he plays really hard when he’s in,” Smart said.

Let’s break down Georgia’s interior defensive line:

THE DEFENSIVE TACKLES

  • Returning starters: Tyler Clark, 6-4, 300, senior; Jordan Davis, 6-6, 320, sophomore; Julian Rochester, 6-5, 300, senior
  • Others returning: Michaell Barnett, 6-4, 304, Sr.; Michail Carter, 6-3, 295, Sr.; Julian Rochester, 6-5, 300, Sr.; Devonte Wyatt, 6-3, 301, Jr.;  Netori Johnson, 6-4, 320, So.
  • Early enrollees: Tramel Walthour, 6-3, 280, So.
  • On the way: Zion Logue, 6-5, 295, Fr.; Travon Walker, 6-5, 290, Fr.
  • Analysis: Again, labeling defensive line positions in Georgia’s scheme is a maddening exercise. The Bulldogs play the match-up game when it comes to defending opposing offenses, so smaller, quicker linemen sometimes play on the interior line, and larger, stronger players sometimes venture out to line up over tackles, depending on down, distance and offensive scheme. That’s why you’ll find the versatile Rochester with 11 starts under the position heading of “multiple” in UGA’s official statistics. He listed as a noseguard on Georgia’s roster. Meanwhile, three of Davis’ four starts are listed as being at tackle, with the other being logged under end, where senior Jonathan Ledbetter was a mainstay. Meanwhile, all 10 of Clark’s starts were at tackle. So obviously the Bulldogs’ defensive line situation is one size fits all. And that’s a good thing as the one thing Georgia can definitely bring to the position is numbers. There are a lot of options here.
  • Bottom line: If there is one criticism to be made of the Smart Era of Georgia football, it’s in the area of interior defensive line. At least on the recruiting front, the Bulldogs have lost of the head-to-head battles for the highest-rated prospects at the position. And while they definitely scored some victories in this latest class, interior defensive line is not generally a position at which first-year players can be expected to make a major impact. The four All-America defensive linemen from this past season were all 21 years old or older. That said, while it may lack some high pedigree, Georgia does now have some seniority and experience up front, as well as depth and a tremendous amount of versatility. There would appear to be enough options here that D-line coach Tray Scott and the defensive brain trust can come up with strong defensive fronts against any offense.

UP NEXT: The options are many for successors to Jonathan Ledbetter at defensive end.

SPRING FOOTBALL PREVIEW

The post SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia defense has its ‘man in the middle’ in sophomore Jordan Davis appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • Thousands of jobs will soon be coming to Georgia, thanks to a new $1.7 billion battery plant.  SK Innovation, a Korean developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, will begin construction this year.  The project is being called the 'largest single investment and job-creating project in Georgia's history' and will create 2,000 new jobs.  Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach is in Jackson County, where Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp attended the groundbreaking ceremony.  We'll show you what the futuristic plant will look like and what Gov. Kemp had to say about the project, on Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m. The Governor @BrianKempGA joined by US Secretary of Commerce for groundbreaking in Jackson County for SK Battery plant w/ $1.7 Billion investment and 2,000 new jobs pic.twitter.com/gOCIAL8dDl — Steve Gehlbach (@SteveGWSB) March 19, 2019 TRENDING STORIES: Tyler Perry steps in to help family of woman killed in bank shooting College student hospitalized after roommate pours bleach in her eyes, police say Georgia restaurant picked for having best BBQ in the South The plant will cover almost 300 acres along Interstate 85 in Commerce and will build batteries to power electric cars. KIA, Mercedes, Hyundai and BMW have brought their operations to the South in recent years, which is a reason SK picked this location. SK Innovations plans to invest up to $5 billion in Georiga over the next decade and jobs could also grow up to 5,000 or 6,000 during that time. 
  • Gwinnett County Police say two Athens men, missing since December, were shot to death. The bodies of Joshua Jackson and Derrick Ruff were found in a storage unit off Lawrenceville Highway in Gwinnett County.  Gwinnett Police have identified two suspects in the murders of Jackson and Ruff; one is in custody, the other was, at last report, still at-large. From the Gwinnett County Police Department... The Gwinnett County Police Department is actively investigating a double homicide in coordination with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.    The bodies of two adult men were found inside a storage unit at the Extra Space Storage located at 2040 Lawrenceville Highway in unincorporated Lawrenceville on Sunday, March 17. As of now, the bodies have been preliminarily identified as Derrick D. Ruff (age 25) and Joshua L. Jackson (age 25). Notification has been made to the victims’ families.   Derrick and Joshua were reported missing through the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in mid-December. They were last seen on December 18 at around 10pm in a Ford Expedition.    The Ford Expedition was eventually found abandoned in a neighborhood off Monfort Road in unincorporated Lawrenceville on December 21, 2018.    On Sunday, March 17, GCPD along with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force focused their efforts along an area of Lawrenceville Highway near Clearwater Place. Cadaver dogs with the Alpha Team K9 Search and Rescue were brought in to aid in the search. The dogs alerted to a storage unit inside the Extra Space Storage facility.    After the investigators assigned to the Homicide Unit opened the unit’s garage door, the victims were found. It appears that they died of gunshot wounds.    The investigators are in the process of identifying all the suspects in this case. As of now, two people have been charged in relation to this crime.  Lesley Chappell Green (age 30, Stone Mountain) is currently in custody at the Gwinnett County Jail. He is being charged with two counts of Concealing the Death of Another.   Robert Maurice Carlisle (age 32, Lithonia) has two active warrants for Concealing the Death of Another. Carlisle is not in police custody. His whereabouts are unknown.    From the Athens-Clarke County Police Department... Over the last three months, investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies have worked tirelessly on the case of Joshua Jackson and Derrick Ruff, reported missing in December 2018. Our hopes were to find the two men alive. Unfortunately, on Sunday, March 17, 2019, the bodies of Joshua Jackson and Derrick Ruff were located in Gwinnett County. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the two men. Investigators from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Athens FBI Safe Streets, Atlanta FBI Safe Streets, Gwinnett County Police Department, Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Corrections, with the assistance of Alpha Team K9 Search and Rescue, searched approximately 100 acres in Gwinnett County and located the bodies. The Gwinnett County Police Department is working this case as a Homicide. Any questions concerning the Homicide investigation should be directed to the Gwinnett County Police Department. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department will continue to assist Gwinnett County in their investigation
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  • Georgia Bulldog basketball coach Tom Crean said attrition is part of transforming a program, and on Monday Teshaun Hightower announced he’s leaving the Dogs. Hightower, a 6-foot-5 guard from Lithonia, scored a season-high 18 points in UGA’s 98-88 win over Texas this season. The Bulldogs lose six seniors from the 2018-19 team that went 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the SEC. Crean has four Top 100 prospects headed to Athens in the 2019 class. Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards, the top shooting guard in the country, is expected to be part of the April signing period haul. Edwards factors heavily into what figures to be a reloaded backcourt with Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump possibly returning for their senior seasons. Georgia now awaits the pivotal decision of sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton, who has said he’s exploring his options. Hightower started 17 of the 29 games he played this season, averaging 6.6 points per game. Hightower did not play in three of the final four games.  
  • The Georgia Bulldog football team begins spring practice today: workouts culminate with the April 20 G-Day game in Sanford Stadium. The Dogs begin the 2019 season in 165 days, August 31 in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores.  From Mike Griffith, AJC DawgNation.. Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman in return game? 4. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 5. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 6. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 7. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 8. Defensive linemen The lock: None.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — His first spring he went toe-to-toe with an incumbent starter. His second year he competed with a 5-star signee ranked as the top quarterback in the country. Now a rising junior with 29 games under his belt as Georgia’s quarterback, Jake Fromm said he is entering his third spring with the Bulldogs with the exact same mentality he went into those other two. “It doesn’t change my preparation at all,” said Fromm, speaking with reporters a couple of hours before the Bulldogs took the field for spring practice. “I’m still technically competing for a job. I’m always going to strive to get better. Whether I’m competing against somebody specifically or competing with my self, I’m always going to strive to be the best I can be.” Fromm has faced the highest degree of competition from the moment he walked onto Georgia’s campus as an early enrollee in January of 2017. He played second fiddle to Jacob Eason that first year and then had to beat out Justin Fields in Year 2 even though he’d led the Bulldogs into the national championship game just three months earlier. Now Eason (Washington) and Fields (Ohio State) play for different teams. And the only others in the quarterback meeting room with him are walkon-turned-JUCO-transfer Stetson Bennett, 4-star signee and early enrollee Dwan Mathis and third-year walkon John Seter. The dynamic is decidedly different, but Fromm said his attitude remains the same. “I’m kind of in the role of a slight mentor,” Fromm said of his role. “I’m going to teach those guys things that I’ve learned from experience. Hopefully I can help those guys out, teach them how to communicate how to learn to learn, as far as the playbook. There’s a lot of things going on, a lot of things being thrown at them. I’m there. I’m a shoulder to lean on sometimes. I can’t wait to see those guys go out there and throw the football around.” There have been several other significant changes on offense. The main one is the absence of offensive coordinator and veteran play-caller Jim Chaney. With Chaney’s departure for a significant pay raise at Tennessee, James Coley has been promoted into the role of sole offensive coordinator. Coley, who had been a coordinator at Miami and Florida State previously, was Fromm’s position coach last year while also serving as c0-coordinator. So while much will stay the same, Fromm expects there will be a lot of different as well. And for Fromm, different is good. “For me, I want to learn new things,” Fromm said. “If we changed up the terminology every single year, I wouldn’t be opposed to that, because I like learning. I want to be the best I can at everything. It offers a different twist. It makes me come in every day hungry and on the edge.” So solid is Fromm’s position on the team that coach Kirby Smart spent all of 10 seconds talking about him during his 25-minute spring practice news conference on Tuesday. “Excited about Jake and the growth he’s been able to give us. He’s been a tremendous help with the other two quarterbacks that are here. Obviously, we have a lot of confidence in Jake in our offensive system and his understanding of running the thing.” Yes, at this point Fromm has accumulated quite a body of work. He enters his third spring having completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,364 yards with 54 TDs and 13 interceptions. His career efficiency rating finishing fifth in the nation last season at 171..21 is a hardy 166.90. As ever, though, Fromm’s plan is to be even better. To do that, he hopes to improve in the area of mobility and quarterback run while creating even more explosive plays as a passer. No reason at this point to think Fromm won’t make that happen. “I want to make my teammates the best I can, the team the best I can, I want to be successful,” he said. “I want to win a lot of football games, I want to win the SEC Championship, I want to win the national championship, I want to be great. So I’m going to come in and compete and strive to be the best I can be every day.” The post Georgia QB Jake Fromm’s plan: ‘To be great’ and ‘win a national championship’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Alabama football Nick Saban gave no indication he had any issues with Kirby Smart when interviewed by AJC-DawgNation at the CFP press conference in San Jose, Calif., last January. “We certainly have a lot of respect for Kirby and what he’s done at Georgia, and the very difficult games we’ve had playing them the last couple of years,” Saban said in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum recently suggested Saban has a strained relationship with Smart, who since leaving his side as Alabama’s defensive coordinator has grown into the biggest threat to dethrone the Tide. Smart was asked if his relationship with Saban was damaged during Georgia’s Tuesday press conference and essentially laughed it off. RELATED: Kirby Smart discusses relationship dynamics with Saban Saban said a lot of people confuse the competitive element with relationships. “It’s really not personal, you still have a certain amount of respect and admiration for them as people, the kind of person they are, the kind of values they have,” Saban said. “You appreciate what they’ve done to help you be successful, and you understand what they are trying to do to be successful, and you have a respect for that, and I don’t think that’s unhealthy in any way shape or form.” Saban used his relationship with Bill Belichick as an example, having worked as an assistant coach under Belichick with the Cleveland Browns en route to facing him from the opposite sideline in the NFL. “We were in the same division and we played two times a year,” said Saban, who coached the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East after Belichick had become the New England Patriots coach. “It’s not personal  …. when you compete against somebody, you want to do the best you can to try to help your team be successful and you respect them because they’re gonna do the same thing for their team.” Saban admits it’s tough to face former assistants who know the ins and outs of his program, but he said that’s part of the coaching business. “No doubt, they get to pick and choose which parts of what we do to utilize,” Saban said. “I did the same thing when I was coming up, whether it was George Perles at Michigan State or Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns. “That’s knowledge and experience, and that’s how you gain it.” Alabama football coach Nick Saban The post WATCH: Nick Saban asked about Kirby Smart competition, ‘It’s not personal’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart laughed when asked if he and Alabama coach Nick Saban had a strained relationship. “Absolutely not,” Smart said at the Bulldogs’ opening spring football press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t have any issue or any problem with any relationship with Nick. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s done anything but grown with more respect since we played them twice.” Alabama beat Georgia in the College Football Playoff Championship Game two years ago, and again in the SEC Championship Game last December. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum had indicated there were issues between Saban and Smart this offseason. “We have a great relationship,” Smart said of his friendship with Saban. “We’re not texting and calling buddy buddy, but I don’t do that with anybody. “I have a lot of respect for him, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and there’s no problem with our relationship.” More Georgia football spring 2019 Way-too-early UGA spring football position group rankings  Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart strongly denies relationship issue with Nick Saban appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Kirby Smart said Georgia redshirt freshman tailback Zamir White will be out for spring drills. “Zamir is coming back, but he won’t be doing spring (drills) other than running on the side,” Smart said on Tuesday, “so he won’t be cleared.” White was injured in August drills playing on special teams while covering a punt. “Any time you have a non-contact ACL, and then you have a second one, you have to be careful,” Smart said. “When that happens, it makes you wonder if the kid can progress as fast as he did last time. “He’s running really well, he’s just not going to be involved in he scrimmage. I probably won’ know until early fall camp. He’s being re-habbing really well.” Smart also said the following players will be out: DL Michail Carter (shoulder surgery) LB Rian Davis, (knee surgery) TE Ryland Goede (knee surgery) RB Prather Hudson (shoulder surgery) DL David Marshall (foot surgery) LB Trezman Marshall (shoulder surgery) DL Julian Rochester (knee surgery) “We’ve also had a few hamstring injuries,” Smart said. Smart added that tailback James Cook has been cleared after suffering a severe ankle injury that required surgery.   The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart updates injury list, Zamir White appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart elaborated on Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann being promoted to defensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinator at Tuesday’s opening spring football press conference. “I’ve had a lot of confidence in Dan and Glenn, not everyone knows what goes on behind the scenes,” Smart said on Tuesday. “But as head coach you are in all those meetings, and you know how involved Dan and Glenn are, and I have a lot of confidence in those two guys.” Lanning was promoted to defensive coordinator on Feb. 15, some six weeks after Mel Tucker was hired to become Colorado’s new head coach. Smart was conspicuously silent on Lanning’s promotion at the time, later saying it was “probably overrated.” RELATED: Leadership questions arise from Kirby Smart offseason interview Smart explained that he’s in control of all of the units, and that what matters is how the staff works together. “When you sit in the seat that I sit in, we’re responsible for both sides of the ball and special teams,” Smart said on a radio interview with 690 The Fan. “So if you sit in those meetings, obviously it’s important to have good leadership but it’s done by a group of men who do it together.” Lanning received a raise from $325,000 to $750,000 in adding the defensive coordinator title to his inside linebacker coaching duties. RELATED: Dan Lanning a thrifty, promising hire for Kirby Smart Schumann, who will continue to work with the outside linebackers, received a raise from $325,000 to $550,000 to add the co-defensive coordinator title. More Georgia football spring 2019 Way-too-early UGA spring football position group rankings  Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post New Georgia DC Dan Lanning getting it done ‘behind the scenes’ appeared first on DawgNation.