John Jenkins admits he‚Äôs never quite sure if he‚Äôs fully completing his job during games on Saturdays.
It‚Äôs not until after film review on Sunday that Jenkins, Georgia‚Äôs 6-foot-3, 340-pound nose tackle, sees he‚Äôs taking care of his duty ‚Äî commanding double teams from opposing offensive linemen.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs bodies everywhere,‚Äù Jenkins said. ‚ÄúI just try to beat the man in front of me.‚Äù
Jenkins was one of the Bulldogs‚Äô most heralded recruits in the 2011 signing class. A junior college transfer, the Meriden, Conn., native was thought of as guy who could make an immediate impact.
But his emergence took time. His first start came against Tennessee in the sixth game of the season. Since then, he‚Äôs been a mainstay in the lineup.
‚ÄúI think he‚Äôs getting more confident and more comfortable in the scheme,‚Äù said defensive line coach Rodney Garner. ‚ÄúI think he‚Äôs getting a better understanding of the defense. I think that‚Äôs showing in his style of play.‚Äù
Nose tackles like Jenkins aren‚Äôt always judged on a statistical basis. Drawing double teams is the objective. In doing so, Jenkins added a career-best four tackles against Georgia Tech last week.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been trying my best not to let anybody down, including myself,‚Äù Jenkins said. ‚ÄúI won‚Äôt say I‚Äôm the man up front, but I do say I‚Äôm still trying to help the team win.‚Äù
His understanding of the defense has allowed him to play faster ‚Äî and he‚Äôs still learning.
He frequently discusses his technique with fellow nose tackle Kwame Geathers. Junior defensive end Abry Jones has been teaching Jenkins technical aspects of the defense. Center Ben Jones, who faces Jenkins on a daily basis in practice, goes over what went right and wrong after drills.
And of course, he still hears plenty from Garner on a daily basis.
‚ÄúCoach Garner is still critiquing me on even smaller things to try to become a better player,‚Äù Jenkins said. ‚ÄúBefore it was big things because I didn‚Äôt understand anything. Now its small, small things.‚Äù
A BALANCED LSU OFFENSE: LSU‚Äôs running backs have received most of the media attention in the buildup for Saturday‚Äôs SEC title game.
The Tigers have four tailbacks with at least six rushing touchdowns this season as the offense relies on a power rushing attack geared to wear defenses down.
However, buried amid the deep rushing statistics is a talented group of receivers that play off opposing defense‚Äôs tendency to cheat up to stop the run.
‚ÄúThey have some talented guys over there at receiver,‚Äù Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs all I‚Äôve been saying.‚Äù
Junior Rueben Randle has a team-high 48 receptions, 889 yards and eight touchdowns. Odell Beckham Jr. has 36 catches. And Russell Shepard, who has played in only nine games due to a three-game suspension to start the season, has four touchdown grabs.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôll obviously mix in the play-action pass with the run game,‚Äù Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. ‚ÄúEveryone has a job to do on every play. You‚Äôve got to understand where your eyes need to be. You‚Äôve got to be disciplined in your assignments and go play.‚Äù
DROPPING THE NICKNAME: While some Georgia players have referred to LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu by his nickname ‚Äî the ‚ÄúHoney Badger‚Äù ‚Äî the Bulldogs receiving corps refuses to acknowledge the moniker.
Despite reporters asking questions about the ‚ÄúHoney Badger,‚Äù redshirt freshman Michael Bennett repeatedly called Mathieu only by his first and last name earlier in the week.
When asked if he used the nickname any, Bennett simply said, ‚ÄúNo.‚Äù
Freshman Malcolm Mitchell followed suit.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre just names,‚Äù Mitchell said when pressed. ‚ÄúI think they‚Äôre just regular guys who know how to play the game.‚Äù
For others on the team, the nickname, given to Mathieu because of his tenacious play, has been a talking point.
It‚Äôs Georgia‚Äôs receivers that have to directly play against Mathieu, who has four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and three total touchdowns this year.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be a great challenge,‚Äù Bennett said.