The number of snaps at inside linebacker that Georgia freshman Reggie Carter has played so far this season, he figures, can be counted on the fingers of his hands.
His workload should increase Saturday against North Texas for two reasons.
The Mean Green isn’t the caliber of opponent that Georgia has seen so far in Clemson and South Carolina. Barring the unexpected, backups should get increased playing time.
The other factor is that coach Mark Richt has said he wants to see more rotation at inside linebacker so juniors Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson don’t get worn down.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance,” Carter said breaking into a big smile.
Carter says he’s already prepared like he would be a starter and wanted to be ready to go should Herrera or Wilson go down with injury.
“It starts in practice, but if they put me in, I won’t be surprised,” the South Gwinnett High product said. “I want to show them that I am the guy that they want me to be once I get in or if I get in. … I accept my job to be the next guy up.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has essentially said that Herrera isn’t coming off the field barring injury or a game being secure. Herrera played every snap against South Carolina and will continue to do so, Grantham said.
There hasn’t been such talk regarding Wilson, which means Carter could get on the field in his place.
“The rotation, it changes every week,” inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said. “We use guys in different roles every week and it’s always going to be a little bit different. Our rule is play until you drop and then we’ll get somebody else in there for you.”
Herrera, in his second year as a starter, leads the SEC and is fourth nationally with 12 tackles per game. Wilson, a junior who was a backup in his first two seasons, is 12th in the nation with 11 tackles per game and “set a tone,” Olivadotti said, with how hard he’s played.
“Those guys have played extremely hard and I think as the game went on, they made plays in the fourth quarter,” Olivadotti said.
Herrera says he’s close to the ball just about every play even with a heavy workload. Wilson has a similar belief in his own abilities.
“If you watch the game, on every tackle you’re going to see 51 [Wilson] and 52 [Herrera],” Wilson said. “We’re just trying to show everybody, play hard, run to the ball and good things will happen. You see what happened. [South Carolina quarterback] Connor Shaw fumbled when Amarlo ran to the
Those tackle totals, however, haven’t translated into Georgia stopping the run so far.
The Bulldogs are giving up 211.5 yards per game rushing, 13th in the SEC.
The 6-foot-1, 229-pound Carter, who enrolled early and took part in spring practice, is still getting comfortable in the system. Just like fellow freshmen inside linebackers Tim Kimbrough, Johnny O’Neal and Ryne Rankin.
“The checks, the adjustment,” Carter said. “That’s one thing Amarlo and Ramik are good at. They see it and [snaps his fingers] and it clicks. With us, we see it, know it, it’s on the tip of our tongue and then we need to get it out. We just need to spit it out faster so we can get everybody lined up.”
“He can play,” Herrera said of Wilson. “They’ve just got to put him in.”
Richt doesn’t have an issue with how Herrera and Wilson are playing, but wants them to have a little rest and build depth at the position. He sees both at the end of extended drives “huffing and puffing pretty good,” and he wonders about the cumulative effect.
“The goal is, just like everywhere else that we’re subbing, is to keep guys fresher in the second half, fresher at the end of a game, at the end of a season and it builds morale,” Richt said. “I’m just hoping we can get a little bit more confidence in some guys to let them play.”