Georgia’s pass rush has been nearly absent through the past few games since losing defensive linemen Julian Rochester and Jordan Davis against Kentucky. The Bulldogs haven’t been able to create enough pressure upfront, so that has given opposing quarterbacks the chance to pick apart the secondary with short passes.
Having both Rochester and Davis out has caused the defense to suffer tremendously. The Bulldogs are missing senior safety Richard LeCounte, who was injured in a motorbike incident after the Kentucky game. Missing LeCounte during the past couple of weeks has also hurt because he’s basically the quarterback of the defense and the player who makes all the pre-snap checks and reads.
Although Rochester doesn’t look likely to return this season, fifth-year head coach Kirby Smart thinks Davis could play this Saturday at South Carolina.
“We’re hopeful on Jordan,” Smart said. “Jordan is closer than Richard. Richard’s not about to get out there and practice yet. I don’t honestly know on Richard. I’ll find out more today. I know he’s trying his best to get back and come back as soon as he can. I would say he’s probably doubtful for this game but Jordan’s got a chance and that’s promising.”
Even though LeCounte will be missing in action, it could help tremendously having Davis back because he’s so meaningful to the defense in so many ways.
South Carolina running back Kevin Harris currently leads the SEC in rushing yards and should see a lot of carries. The Gamecocks might be hoping to lean on the run as they will be most likely missing star receiver Shi Smith, who’s third in the SEC in receiving yards.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound nose tackle is the key part of Georgia’s run defense. He also generally draws attention from multiple defenders and that leaves the opponent a man down. That’s where another defender comes in to help out with pressure or to stop the run. Davis’ impact affects the defense a lot more than some might think.
“We’re hopeful to get him back and get him back out there going,” Smart said.
Here is the video from Smart’s Monday press conference: