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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Shutdown corners and hard-hitting safeties

One of the deepest groups Georgia has is its defensive backs group. Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports each ranks Georgia’s defensive backs as the No. 3 defensive back group in the country.

Georgia’s secondary allowed a 56.9 completion percentage (No. 30), 201.1 yards per game (No. 31), 5.6 passing yards per attempt (No. 1), 16 touchdowns (No. 25) and allowed a 111.44 quarterback rating (No. 8).

Georgia’s secondary is led by senior safety Richard LeCounte. Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports named LeCounte a preseason First-Team All-American. He was also named to Athlon Sports Top 50 players coming in at No. 45 and Lindy’s Sports ranked LeCounte as their No. 2 safety. Last season, LeCounte led all defensive backs with four interceptions. He also made 61 total tackles, broke up three passes, forced two fumbles, and recovered three fumbles.

Lewis Cine replaces J.R. Reed who is now playing in the NFL. Cine played in six games in 2019 amassing 20 total tackles, one interception, two pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry. Cine has the potential to not only be Reed’s successor but also be an upgrade.

Starting cornerback Eric Stokes was named an Athlon Sports’ preseason Third-Team All-American. Lindy’s Sports didn’t name Stokes to their first or second-team All American lists, but they did name him the No. 11 cornerback in the country. Stokes led all Georgia defensive backs in pass breakups a season ago with nine and who could forget his forced fumble against Tennessee?

Starting opposite of Stokes for much of 2019 was D.J. Daniel, a solid cornerback in his own right. Daniel played in 13 of Georgia’s 14 games amassing 42 total tackles, two tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, and three quarterback hurries. Daniel had to start in place of an injured Tyson Campbell last year and I would expect him to retain that starting job this season.

The star position or slot cornerback will come down to Mark Webb and Tyrique Stevenson. Webb excels in the run game totaling 46 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. He also added three pass breakups. Stevenson excels more in pass coverage and rushing the passer. He broke up five passes and had five quarterback hurries.

Lindy’s Sports ranked Georgia’s defensive back recruits their No. 1 group in the country. (Rankings from 247Sports Composite).

Georgia is loaded on defense. Every single unit is ranked in the top five in the country. It is going to be very difficult to get the ball across the goalline on these Junkyard Dawgs.