Georgia coach Mark Richt says he’s “more curious than concerned” 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’t exactly surprising that the Bulldogs were hit hard by player departures after last season, including juniors entering the NFL draft.
“It wasn’t no secret,” Smith said. “It wasn’t Project Manhattan or nothing.”
How a defense that is set to start two freshmen in the secondary — cornerback Brendan Langley and safety Tray Matthews — and has six other freshmen on its two-deep depth chart will fare under the lights in Memorial Stadium is still to be determined.
“It’s just going to be interesting to see how quickly these guys can get their feet under them and start playing with some confidence,” Richt said.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says Georgia will be just fine.
“Don’t buy the lie or feel sorry for Georgia,” Swinney said Tuesday. “They’ve got a lot of great players. They’re 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.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is ready to let his unproven bunch loose.
“These guys have worked hard, they’re eager, you’ve just got to go play,” he said.
Linebacker Amarlo Herrera is one of three returning starters.
“You’re always going to be curious when you’re in a real football game that really matters,” Herrera said. “You have a lot of guys that have never played in a football game together, so you’ve just got to see how everybody jells and how quick we come together.”
Said Smith: “We’re all wondering. I’m sure the coaches and everybody, the whole world. I’m confident in our ability that we’ll do good.”