August 20, 2012

'Angry Dawgs' focused

The question to linebacker Ramik Wilson seemed simple enough.

His task, come up with one word to describe Georgia's defense heading into the 2012 campaign. Wilson's answer, though apropos, still came as somewhat of a surprise.

"Angry," Wilson said. "We're real angry, we're all about business; we're all down to business."

Senior nose John Jenkins was asked the same question before told how Wilson responded.

"Ambitious? Passionate?" he responded.

The big 355-pounder's eyes lit up when told what Wilson had said.

"Yeah, I can see where he's coming with that," Jenkins said. "I was watching TV with my brother one time, we were watching ESPN and I was watching them talk about the top defenses coming back this year and they overlooked us. With the things we did and the guys we have back, I felt kind of sick to my stomach, because I'm thinking 'How can "y'all overlook us?' So, I can see why Ramik said angry, because we're passionate. We feel we have more to prove to the nation that we are who we are."

Regardless of what the national pundits may say, there are plenty of high expectations for Georgia's defense this fall.

For one, nine starters are back from a defense that finished ranked fifth nationally a season ago, giving up just 277.21 yards per game.

While it's true it appears that Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree will likely join Sanders Commings on the sideline for the first two contests, that hasn't affected Georgia's mindset or the way the defense has prepared.

"We seem to practice like we're mad," senior Cornelius Washington said. "We come out and talk about it in every meeting. We talk about coming out and dominating. We want to come out and be aggressive. We want to come out and be mean, and basically make people quit. We want people to hate playing us. That's the way we try to practice."

But questions do remain.

For example, what effect will the loss of Commings have on the Bulldog secondary, and does Georgia have enough quality depth to make up for any loss of Rambo and Ogletree until they are able to return?

The defense's second half issues in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State also raised some eyebrows, but according to Jenkins has also helped to fuel the focus he said the defense currently has.

It also helped leave the defense which a Stone Mountain-sized chip on the collective shoulders of players like Jenkins.

"As a defensive player, a defensive guy, you've got to walk with a chip," Jenkins said. "You've got to walk with that angry mindset."

Jenkins appears to certainly have that.

"I've got to be because this is my last season. The things, the impact that this could have on my future … when I lining up against the men in front of me, if he beats me, he takes - you know, things that I need for my future. He takes food off the table for my family," Jenkins said. "That's how I think when I'm out there at practice - I can't be blocked, I won't be blocked, you know? That's the kind of mindset that I have. I'm not going to let people take food from me."

Junior defensive end Garrison Smith laughed that he wouldn't advise anyone giving it a try.

"Oh yeah, everybody playing hard and playing physical. We're playing with a vengeance out there," Smith said. "Angry's a good word."

Wilson said it helps knowing that the 2012 season opener is now a mere two weeks away.

After going against the Bulldog offense for the past three weeks, some "new blood" will be welcome.

"Yeah, we're a little tired of hitting each other. We've been out there every day competing," Wilson said. "It's going good though, we're starting to learn the offense a whole lot more. We're ready for some new competition."

Wilson added that Washington has probably been one of the defense's "angriest" players.

"He wants us to keep that intensity going, fly around and hit people," he said. "That's what Coach Grantham wants - all 11 hats to the ball, play with passion, intensity, have fun and be angry."

Washington won't deny his role.

"I want to get the glory days started. We came here to win championships but we haven't yet. It's been a long time," he said. "With the talent that we have and the things we sacrificed to come back to try and do this. We could be doing different things, but we came back because we love this, this is really what we want to do."

As for Jenkins, he's ready to prove just how impressive a player he can.

"I used to get a lot of trash, especially the single-digit things. But you know, after they get thrown back a few times, it was closed eyes and a closed mouth," he said. "This year, I know I've got to be that much more dominant because I know the game, I know what to expect, and like I said it's my last year and this is it."