Every college defense in the country spends hours each week analyzing film of their opponent’s offense. But for Georgia, watching tape of other defenses is important, too.
Each week, Georgia quality control assistants find film from the NFL that the team can learn from. Head coach Kirby Smart said he wants his players to see what the best are doing.
“They might be looking at pressures and sacks in the NFL,” Smart said. “We try to be on the cutting edge of our players being able to watch innovative things. They want to watch a new play that somebody ran in the NFL.”
The Bulldogs’ defense must be getting something out of it. Georgia is the sixth-best defense in the country in terms of points allowed, and they’ve yet to concede a rushing touchdown.
It makes sense, considering the Bulldogs are trying to emulate some of the best defensive players the game has ever seen. Senior defensive end Justin Young said watching film of the NFL’s best has specifically helped the defense’s ability to rush the passer.
“They might show us a clip of Aaron Donald and his pass rush moves,” Young said. “Being able to put as many pass rush moves in our bag as possible so we can pull them out on game day helps a lot.”
Young said there are a lot of players in the NFL that consistently make an appearance in their film room. They often watch former Bulldogs Lorenzo Carter and Leonard Floyd, as well as all-pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
But the Bulldog defense isn’t just drawing inspiration from current players. Junior outside linebacker Walter Grant goes back a little further for his preferred film study.
“I watch Jason Taylor a lot,” Grant said. “We watch his get off and try to make everything look the same.”
After getting work at running back during spring practice due to a depleted backfield, Grant has gotten a chance to use what he’s learned from Taylor to the benefit of the Georgia defense. Grant has played in all five games this year and recorded a sack against Murray State.
But he doesn’t narrow his focus to solely NFL players. He said there’s a few defensive players in college football right now that he has a lot of respect for their game.
“There’s a couple players that I really look at,” Grant said. “I probably couldn’t name one off the top of my head. I look around and there’s a lot of talent, especially at my position.”
He won’t have to look far this weekend, as South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum is one of the better pass rushers in the SEC from his Buck linebacker position. The senior from Stone Mountain, Georgia, had a career-high three-sack game against Kentucky in the Gamecocks last time out.
But if the Bulldogs can channel their inner Jason Taylor, they’ll have no problem getting in the backfield on Saturday.