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July 4, 2007
Big Questions: No. 1, Starting Linebackers
Well, it looks like the first in our ten questions surrounding the Georgia Bulldogs heading into the 2007 season was not difficult enough as nearly everybody answered the same way.
All three of the UGASports.com staff members as well as the two guest media panelists answer the same way while 59% of fans agreed as well. The starting linebackers will be Brandon Miller, Darius Dewberry, and Dannell Ellerbe.
Question No. 1: If everyone is healthy through fall camp, who will be the starting linebackers for game one?
Ellerbe might be the best linebacker on the team, but he has had to look up the depth chart at other payers through most of his career. He has played both inside and outside, and was pegged to take over for Tony Taylor at Mike this past spring, but Miller's move from Sam ended all of that talk.
The guy that faces the most competition is Dewberry at Sam. He was displaced in spring camp by redshirt freshman Akeem Dent, but in the end moved back to the first team.
Overall, I expect this Georgia group of linebackers to fly around this year and show more speed and lateral movement than those in the past. The Dawgs had solid players on the second level of defense in recent years, but the group they have now has speed to burn and I expect them to turn things up a notch.
Experience is something they need at linebacker because Georgia plays a gap-control defense, which is all about positioning yourself to make plays.
I think Ellerbe and Miller are experienced and talented enough to hold off the two freshman (Curran and White) as well as Washington and Gamble, so it will come down the strong-side. Dewberry played sparingly last year there, but he almost beat out Miller and Danny Verdun last year at that position. Dent had a great spring, but he was unimpressive on G-Day and he has never played in a game.
I expect to see a bit of a platoon there in fall camp and then for Dewberry to step up and become the starter by September 1.
Guest media panelist - If everyone is healthy through fall camp, who will be the starting linebackers for game one?
It's safe to assume Brandon Miller is the starter in the middle, and I think he's going to do well there. But all bets are off after that.
My assumption is that Dannell Ellerbe and Darius Dewberry will start the opener at Will and Sam, respectively, because they have a little more on-field experience than their competition. I've heard really good things about redshirt freshmen Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, though -- especially Dent. It wouldn't surprise me to see some younger guys steal some playing time as the season wears on.
We may even see Rennie Curran get some on-field time as a true freshman. But given the quality of the offenses they'll face early, my guess is that Georgia's coaches will decide to succeed or fail with linebackers who've been on the field before.
The fans speak out! - How Georgia fans voted on The Dawgvent