After last year’s performance, the expectation for Georgia’s 2020 defense is through the roof as the bar is set high.
The Bulldogs return a vast majority of talent from the 2019 season as the unit was the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in the country. They also ranked No. 2 in yards per carry given up, and No. 3 in total defense. The incredible thing is that only one player from that collective unit was drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft as Tae Crowder was selected as the final pick in round seven. Safety J.R. Reed went as a undrafted free agent as well Tyrique McGhee and Tyler Clark.
Most of the impact players from last year’s defense return for the 2020 season as the Bulldogs counted 25 total that made contributions. But one of the most skillful players, inside linebacker Monty Rice, doesn’t buy into the hype that this upcoming year’s squad will be just as good. To him, it’s not something that will come easy and respect will have to be earned.
“I’ve been on a defense that was supposed to be dominant and we weren’t,” Rice tweeted on Monday. “Wanna know why? (One) word complacency.” He followed up with hashtags that said the phrases “rip shot time” and “last year don’t matter.”
If you’re a UGA coach or fan, this is something you want to hear. Rice was one of the leaders from last year’s defense and will definitely look to continue that in 2020. Last year, he led the team with 89 total tackles, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, and eight quarterback hurries during his junior campaign.
On the defensive line, the Bulldogs return several key pieces. When you merge both the inside and outside linebackers, they return ten key components who played significant roles in 2019. Interestingly enough, Georgia had one of the best defenses in the country last season while finishing 84th nationally in turnovers created, 60th in tackles for loss and 46th in sacks.
Creating turnovers and piling up tackles for loss is something that head coach Kirby Smart always said that the team needed to improve on in press conferences last year. It may seem to some that Rice may be calling out the defense in a way, but for most, it just means that he knows the unit can do better.
The leadership that Rice possesses already is something that will only be positive after a group that hasn’t physically seen each other in a couple of months due to coronavirus pandemic. To him, It just seems like to sky is the limit.