Georgia defense is still tough

Georgia defense is still tough

Football

Georgia defense is still tough

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Kelly is probable for Georgia game

By Will Vandervort

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris says despite three new starters in the secondary for fifth-ranked Georgia, the Bulldogs will be a difficult challenge for his offense when No. 8 Clemson host them Saturday night in Death Valley.

“They are going to come here, and they are going to be prepared as they have ever been,” Morris said.

Defensively, the Bulldogs will only look like a shell of the team that held their opponents under 20 points per game in 2012. Gone are standouts like Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings.

But Morris warns that he isn’t fooled by all of that. He says Georgia has just as much talent as they have had the last several years on defense. He expects another tough physical game with one of the SEC’s best teams.

“They have a lot of those players,” he said. “Obviously, what we have been studying and going off on was last year’s film. The players they have returning from last year, they have some real young talent. They have some players that have received significant playing time from last year. They just weren’t starters that you have to be aware of. “

Georgia’s most significant talent is at linebacker, where Amarlo Herrera had 70 tackles, and Jordan Jenkins, who had eight tackles for loss a year ago, have the potential to be very good.

But outside of linebacker, the Bulldogs bring back very little experience. Cornerback Damian Swann, who had 53 tackles and four interceptions last year is back to lead a young and inexperienced secondary. Defensive end Garrison Smith is an All-SEC caliber player in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 scheme up front. After that, the Bulldogs will have a lot of fresh faces in the lineup.

“They have a bunch of young guys where this will be there first time in a starting role, but a lot of them have played and got reps,” Morris said. “Until you get the final pieces of the puzzle and see how things are going to go and how they are going to play out, it may take a couple of series to see a few things.”

Trying to make history. If Clemson defeats No. 5 Georgia on Saturday, it will establish a first in college football history. No non-SEC team has beaten top 10 SEC teams in consecutive games. The Tigers ended last season with a win over No. 7 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Kelly could play if need be. In a surprise note, Clemson announced its injury report for Saturday night and backup quarterback Chad Kelly was listed as probable for the Georgia game.

That is stunning considering Kelly had surgery to repair a torn ACL in April after injuring his knee in the spring game. Morris said Kelly played in last week’s scrimmage.

“Chad has worked extremely hard to get back,” Morris said. “He has been telling everybody he is going to be back. He has worked as hard as anybody I have seen. For him to be available is remarkable.

“He looks really good so we are excited about him. I don’t know after that point where we are with him, but I do know that he is ready to go.”

Injury update. Besides Kelly, Clemson has listed freshman running back Tyshon Dye out of the game (back) as well as freshman corner Mackensie Alexander (groin). Offensive tackle Joe Gore is out (knee) as well as freshman defensive tackle Scott Pagano (ankle) and tight end Sam Cooper (knee).

Freshman tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) is listed as questionable after head coach Dabo Swinney said last week he would at least dress for the Georgia game. Defensive back Jayron Kearse (shoulder) is also listed as questionable.

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