When Georgia's defense hits the field for the first time Saturday night at South Carolina, sophomore linebacker Amarlo Herrera will be the Bulldogs' new starter at Mike linebacker.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham confirmed the switch after practice Tuesday evening.
"Amarlo has earned that right due to the way he's played in the first four games," Grantham said. "You tell players if you make plays, we'll find a way to get you on the field and he's earned the right to play."
The stats tell the story.
Herrera (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) leads the Bulldogs in tackles with 36, two for losses of three yards and has an interception which he returned 35 yards for a touchdown after starting the Georgia's first four games at Moe.
However, when Alec Ogletree came back off his four-game suspension, somebody had to go. That somebody turned out to be senior Mike Gilliard.
"The decision we made was to move Amarlo to the other linebacker position to get those guys on the field," Grantham said. "I think it's the right thing to do and we'll continue to do it. I think it will allow us get to where we want to go and do the thing we want to do, to play the way we want to play down the road."
Gilliard and fellow inside linebacker Christian Robinson will continue to see plenty of playing time and figure to have a huge role in trying to contend the Gamecocks' potent run game, led by junior Marcus Lattimore.
Grantham says corrections were made
In regards to the issues Georgia had stopping Tennessee's run game, Grantham said he's confident the right corrections have been made.
"We corrected them at halftime, really. I thought there were a couple of runs that they hit on us, whereas the guys who were playing them got more reps I thought they played them better," Grantham said. "I think we'll understand how we've got to fit them and play it the way we should play it."
The Vols finished with 197 yards on the ground against the Bulldogs, 130 coming in the second half.
But Grantham knows Lattimore (92 rushes, 440 yards, eight touchdowns) isn't his only concern.
Quarterback Connor Shaw is the type of dual-threat (203 yards rushing, 571 yards passing) which has hurt the Bulldogs already this year.
"(Missouri quarterback James) Franklin was more of an H-back type runner whereShaw has a little quickness and shake to him," Grantham said. "He does a good job."
Grantham hopes having a healthy Abry Jones at left defensive end will alleviate some problems the Bulldogs exhibited against the Vols.
Jones only was able to take part in 16 plays on third down last week, causing nose John Jenkins to slide over to end with Kwame Geathers taking over at nose.
"We did that based upon need. When Abry was down, there was quite a bit of nickel which meant that Cornelius (Washington) was playing that position. To get the next best guy in the game, you had to either play Kwame or John, so John moved over to end," Grantham said. "To John's credit, he knew what to do and knew how to do it. He was solid when he was in there but it was just a matter of taking what guys were available and finding a way to get the next best guy in the game. That's what we did and will continue to do if we have to."
Five wide a Bulldog first
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo admits a few eyebrows were raised in the team-meeting room when he drew up a five-receiver set on the board.
"Aaron Murray got excited, all the receivers got excited and the tight ends stuck their lips out," Bobo said. "But we've got a good football team. It's a very unselfish team and I think that's why we are having success because guys are not selfish and don't care who catches the ball or runs the ball as long as we move the football."
Georgia used the five receiver set five times in Saturday's game against Tennessee, in what was a Bulldog first.
"Zero. None," said Bobo, when asked how many time he'd used a five-wide set before. "I just felt like that gave us some personnel matchups against those guys. They do a lot of stuff on defense where they try to disguise so when you go five wide you can kind of see what they're trying to do defensively, so that was the reason for that. Usually I like to play with a tight end on the field."
"I don't know how they figured that, but that's fine with me." - junior guard Chris Burnette on why he was tabbed the spokesman for the offensive line after the rest of his teammates was made unavailable to the media.
This and that
Offensive line coach Will Friend said that sophomore Hunter Long is back practicing 100 percent and is being worked at center and guard. Long has missed the past month-plus with a broken foot
Head coach Mark Richt was pleased with Tuesday's nearly two-and-a-half practice in full pads. "I thought was a great day," Richt said in a statement. "The scout teamers got after it. It was really good weather. I thought the energy level was high. It was just a great day of practice."