“We’ve made tremendous strides defensively,” Richt said. “We have guys who believe in what Coach Grantham and the other guys have taught. I think they believe in each other.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was ranked in the top ten nationally most of the season. It powered the Dawgs to Atlanta for the SEC Championship, but couldn’t hold LSU back after offensive turnovers and big plays by the Tigers’ special teams.
The injection of new players, too, had an effect on the defense’s production. Jarvis Jones, who sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, has 13.5 sacks. JUCO transfer John Jenkins has been the missing link in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense.
Richt said he hopes for even more from the defense in the future.
“We are a confident bunch of guys,” Richt said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that we can get better, but we’ve done about as well as I could have hoped for two years into it.”
Aaron Murray said Saturday that one of his backups, like Georgia’s defense, has come a long way.
“Coach Bobo and I were talking the other day and we just said ‘Wow’ about Christian’s development. He’s made some huge strides,” Murray said of redshirt freshman Christian LeMay.
Murray indicated that LeMay was settling nicely in the Bulldogs’ program after missing the final season of his football career in high school.
“Early on in the season he was trying to throw as hard as he could and his footwork was off. Now his footwork is better and he’s making accurate throws and the ball is coming out better,” Murray said.
“Coach Bobo has told him: ‘You’ve got a strong enough arm – you don’t have to throw it 100 miles an hour. When he relaxes and throws natural the ball flies out of his hands,” Murray added.
Georgia ended their 2011 practice season on the campus of University of Tampa… “We are as ready as we can be,” Richt said Saturday of the Outback Bowl matchup with Michigan State.
Richt said his “future leaders” have already talked with him about the sort of work they are willing to put in to maintain the success for the Bulldogs… “They told me that they liked the way the season went and the approach everyone took. They said they wanted to keep it going. We are building a culture here,” Richt said.
Richt said he would likely be asleep before midnight before the New Year strikes… “I’m worried about winning the game – not who is kissing who.”