Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter was expected to be an integral part of the Georgia defense line and front seven this season, but he ended up missing the first six games due to violating the school’s drug and alcohol policy. That is all behind him now, and after doing everything the coaches and the University asked him to do, he returned to the field against Vanderbilt. His impact was immediate.
Ledbetter didn’t sack the QB, but his explosiveness impacted the line of scrimmage and the play on the defensive line when he was in. For the game, the Bulldogs had 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss as a team; with OLB Lorenzo Carter notching two of those sacks and Davin Bellamy and David Marshall each sharing the third. Ledbetter ended up with 4 tackles including 0.5 tackles for a loss.
The Dawgs’ pass rush and pressuring the opposing quarterback is something that had been lacking earlier in the year. In Georgia’s first five games, they managed just six total sacks. Then, the young defensive line and front seven seemed to have a coming out party against South Carolina in week 6 when they managed to get the Gamecock QB 4 times.
What makes Jonathan Ledbetter so impactful? What is it that he brings the table along the d-line that opposing offenses have to worry about? Coach Kirby Smart explains:
“He has a different trait than most of our guys because he has some twitch. He’s fast twitch, and he’s quick. He’s more explosive. He’s what more people are playing with now instead of just the big guys; so, he gives us a good change up.”
With the defensive line starting to click, Ledbetter’s return is icing on the cake for the Bulldogs. It has been fun to watch this young group, who are mainly freshmen and sophomores with the exception of John Atkins, grow and get better. Georgia fans have a lot to be excited about in regards to this area of the team as we should see the d-line get even better over the final 5 regular season games starting with the game against Florida on Saturday.