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Georgia looking to regain edge on 'D'

8/3/2011

It’s one thing for a fan or a member of the media to say something was missing from Georgia’s defense last season.

But when one of the Bulldogs’ own says it, everybody tends to sit up straight and listen.

Former Georgia safety Thomas Davis, who’s now a linebacker with the Carolina Panthers and delivered more than a few knockout-sized blows during his days with the Bulldogs, used the dreaded “soft” label when describing Georgia’s defense last season.

You can bet his comments have been posted for every member of that Georgia defense to read. The Bulldogs will undergo some testing sessions on Wednesday and then participate in their first on-field practice of the preseason on Thursday.

"We've never been considered a team that was soft and didn't go out and make people feel like they'd just left a fight when they left the game," Davis said of last season's defense. "I didn't feel like our defense, in particular, made people feel threatened to come in and play us. When we played defense, we had a guy like Greg Blue, Odell [Thurman], David Pollack, guys that would really come and really lay the lumber on you, and you would feel it after the game.

"Even going into your next week, you still had that hit on your mind that those guys did to you. I didn't think we have anybody on that defense that was doing that, presenting that intimidation factor. And I told the guys how I felt about it. ... We have a bunch of South Carolina guys on our team [with the Panthers], and for a guy to come up to me and say, 'What happened to Georgia? You guys are soft.' ... that did something to me."

Davis, who will return to Athens on Saturday to receive his undergraduate degree, remains firmly behind Mark Richt and said he thinks Richt will light a fire under the Bulldogs this season. Davis spoke to the Georgia team last season prior to the Vanderbilt game and made some of his thoughts known then.

Davis acknowledged that making the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is never easy. The Bulldogs should play faster and with much better instincts the second time around in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. The other thing they have to do is tackle better, which was a big problem early last season.

Some help is on the way.

It shouldn't take junior college nose guard John Jenkins long to make his presence felt. The 350-pound Jenkins has already impressed his teammates this summer with how well he moves for such a huge guy.

The other move that should help the Bulldogs defensively and restore some of that physical edge Davis thinks was missing last season is Alec Ogletree shifting from safety to inside linebacker. Ogletree is up to 236 pounds and is a big-time hitter. Look for him to provide an intimidating presence at linebacker. The same goes for USC transfer Jarvis Jones at outside linebacker, although Jones is still waiting to hear if he will be forced to miss any games because of the AAU basketball matter while he was in high school.