UGA Football: Why the Bulldogs will win the SEC East again in 2020

Kirby Smart (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kirby Smart (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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Group of monsters on the defensive line

In 2019, Georgia had one of the best defensive units in the country. According to Football Outsiders’ DFEI rating, Georgia’s defense was No. 3 in the country. If you look at the more conventional stats the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 1 in rushing defense, No. 31 in passing defense, and No. 3 in total defense.

Georgia’s suffocating defense starts up front. Athlon Sports ranked Georgia’s defensive line unit as its No. 2 unit in the nation, Lindy’s Sports ranked it No. 10. Georgia’s defensive line unit was responsible for 29.5 of the defense’s 76 tackles for loss last year. Eight of the eleven players from last year’s rotation return in 2020.

Jordan Davis leads this group, wreaking havoc from his nose tackle spot. Davis led all defensive linemen in tackles for loss a year ago with four. Davis is an absolute beast against the run. Teams must run away from him if they intend to have any success running the ball. Davis can also rush the passer evidenced by his two and a half sacks.

The three senior players on the defensive line that will contribute this season are Devonte WyattMalik Herring, and Julian Rochester. Wyatt was a force last season tallying 30 tackles and one sack. Rochester redshirted in 2019 due to injuries, having him back will make it even more challenging to run on the Bulldogs. Herring tallied 22 tackles and four tackles for loss.

According to Pro Football Focus’ ratings, Herring is the top returning player on Georgia’s roster from last year. Herring also had the second-highest pass-rushing rating on late downs according to Brent Rollins of Pro Football Focus.

Travon Walker is a young defensive lineman that is ready to break out in his own right this season. Last year, as a true freshman, Walker had 15 tackles, three and a half tackles for loss, and two and a half sacks. This season he should have a more predominant role in the rotation.

Speaking of the young guys on the defensive line, Georgia got a monster in the 2020 recruiting cycle in Jalen Carter, the No. 4 Defensive Tackle in the class. The 6-3,  301-lb. defensive tackle should get every opportunity to play early.