Georgia coach Mark Richt says he‚Äôs ‚Äúmore curious than concerned‚Äù about a new-look Bulldogs defense that will be rolled out Saturday at No. 8 Clemson.
Defensive end Garrison Smith, a history major, said that it wasn‚Äôt exactly surprising that the Bulldogs were hit hard by player departures after last season, including juniors entering the NFL draft.
‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt no secret,‚Äù Smith said. ‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt Project Manhattan or nothing.‚Äù
How a defense that is set to start two freshmen in the secondary ‚Äî cornerback Brendan Langley and safety Tray Matthews ‚Äî and has six other freshmen on its two-deep depth chart will fare under the lights in Memorial Stadium is still to be determined.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just going to be interesting to see how quickly these guys can get their feet under them and start playing with some confidence,‚Äù Richt said.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says Georgia will be just fine.
‚ÄúDon‚Äôt buy the lie or feel sorry for Georgia,‚Äù Swinney said Tuesday. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got a lot of great players. They‚Äôre one of those programs that just reloads. They have recruited at a very high level and will put a very good defense on the field Saturday night.‚Äù
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is ready to let his unproven bunch loose.
‚ÄúThese guys have worked hard, they‚Äôre eager, you‚Äôve just got to go play,‚Äù he said.
Linebacker Amarlo Herrera is one of three returning starters.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre always going to be curious when you‚Äôre in a real football game that really matters,‚Äù Herrera said. ‚ÄúYou have a lot of guys that have never played in a football game together, so you‚Äôve just got to see how everybody jells and how quick we come together.‚Äù
Said Smith: ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre all wondering. I‚Äôm sure the coaches and everybody, the whole world. I‚Äôm confident in our ability that we‚Äôll do good.‚Äù