Georgia Bulldogs head football coach Mark Richt has made a very clear and unwavering statement. UGA is not going to put up with any shenanigans no matter how highly touted a recruit you were or how important you supposedly are to the program.
The dismissals of both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews (as well as the transfer of Shaq Wiggins) will have their overall effect on Georgia’s secondary, but in the long run, that effect should be more positive than negative.
All three seem to be on their way to Louisville to rejoin their former defensive un-coordinator Todd Grantham, but that’s Bobby Petrino’s mess to worry about now. Suffice to say, the Cardinals will go from a perceived overachieving team to a laughably underachieving one.
However, between the hedges, things are going to take a much different shape.
The Bulldogs are not out of options in the secondary. In fact, they have plenty of players who have seen time on the field, and who may end up stepping into the empty shoes left by the intrepid trio in a much more suitable fashion.
For starters, Damian Swann, a rising senior, is returning. Granted, Swann didn’t have the most memorable season in 2013, in fact it looked like he took a step back from his 2012 form. But he is a quality player with plenty of starting experience, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will bring out the best in Swann.
Corey Moore, Quincy Mauger, Sheldon Dawson and Reggie Wilkerson round out a group of returning players who all have a few or more starts under their belt, and who can become difference makers in this secondary.
And with the exit of players — be it via graduation or other means — there is always a talented crop of new recruits entering Sanford Stadium, and the Bulldogs have some top prospects coming in.
Malkom Parrish, Dominick Sanders, Shaquille Jones and JUCO transfer Shattle Fenteng are all incoming players who have raised a few eyebrows on the coaching staff and who could become seriously considered for starting spots.
But that’s all just speculation and talking around the fact that rather than having a handful of experienced starters and a coach who has a willy-nilly approach to pass defense (and who left his kids twisting in the wind far too many times), this year the Bulldogs will have some less experienced players led by a coach who thrives on structure and being in position to make the play.
The rest will come. These kids wouldn’t be a Georgia if they weren’t quality players. Now a quality coach is going to tap into that potential that was left stagnant. You may see a number of names on the field you don’t recognize this year, but you probably won’t see a fall-off in play, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
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