If you just looked at the stat sheet from last season for the former No. 1 player in the nation, it might feel a bit underwhelming. Smith did finish the season with 2.5 sacks and 18 total stops, but he did so much more. On a defense already loaded, he found a way to notch 15 quarterback hurries last season.
As good as the Dawgs were on defense last season, they struggled to get to the quarterback. The Bulldogs allowed the fewest points per game nationally (12.6) and the third-fewest yards per game (275.7). However, UGA’s pass rush was tied for 46th with just 31 sacks.
With the defensive philosophy of Coach Dan Lanning, don’t expect the Bulldogs ever to use that stat as an indicator of their defense. Coach Smart has indicated in the past that he would like to get after the quarterback a little more, but he is not likely to do so at the cost of good fundamental team defense.
In their system, you need an exceptional athlete, and Smith is that guy. I predict that he will have a minimum of 7.5 sacks and that he and Azeez Ojulari will combine for at least 15 on the season.