It would be completely understandable if the 2022 Georgia defense isn’t quite up to par in comparison to the 2021 version. That Bulldog defense was historically great and led UGA to the national championship.
They also lost linebacker Travon Walker, who ended up being the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He wasn’t the only defender to move on. Georgia saw five members of the defense go in the first round of the NFL draft and their defensive coordinator Dan Lanning took a head coaching job at Oregon. He was replaced by Will Muschamp, the former South Carolina, and Florida head coach.
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For most teams, losing all of that talent on and off the field would be crippling, and looking at a total rebuild. But the Bulldogs are not most teams.
For the 2022 season, the Georgia defense will be anchored by 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive lineman Jalen Carter. The junior, with a good season, is a heavy favorite to be the next Bulldog to be drafted in the first round. He was named as a preseason First Team All-American after being named to the coaches’ All-SEC Second team a year ago. Carter finished last year with 37 tackles and 33 quarterback pressures, three sacks, and 8.5 tackles for loss.
Next to Carter on the line will be 6-foot-5, 295-pound Zion Logue and 280-pound Travel Walthour, who will be taking over Walker’s position.
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Georgia will be looking to find a way to replace Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, and Channing Tindall, who were all taken in the NFL draft. But Nolan Smith is a good place to begin to rebuild a position group. Trezmen Marshall will likely step into the middle linebacker spot and Robert Beal has starting experience on the strongside.
In the secondary, safety Christopher Smith is the real deal and will be playing on Sundays soon enough. Tykee Smith will be at the other safety spot, and while talented, he’s had a hard time staying on the field due to injuries.
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Corner Kelee Ringo jumped onto the scene with his pick-6 that sealed Alabama’s fate in the national championship game. He’ll look to build on that to be a lockdown corner in the SEC.
They may have big shoes to fill when it comes to holding up the Georgia name on the defensive side of things, but these Bulldogs are well equipped to get the job done. The Ducks are going to have their hands full on Saturday.