September 9, 2008

Dobbs a surprise leader

ATHENS, Ga. -- Only one Georgia player has more tackles than Demarcus Dobbs, who also has the only touchdown of the season for the defense.

That's not bad for a guy wasn't even listed on the two-deep depth chart in the first two games for No. 2 Georgia, which visits South Carolina on Saturday.

Dobbs, a sophomore defensive end from Savannah, had only one tackle in 13 games as a freshman last season and was third on the team's preseason depth chart.

Dobbs still hadn't made the two-deep chart distributed to reporters when he made his first career start on a three-man defensive front against Central Michigan last Saturday. He made sure fans learned the name on his No. 58 jersey, grabbing a deflection for an interception and rambling 78 yards for a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 56-17 victory.

The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Dobbs was an unlikely choice to record Georgia's longest interception return for a touchdown in five years.

That's a long way for a lineman to run.

"I have to admit I loved the interception for a touchdown," said coach Mark Richt. "That was big. I was fired up for Demarcus."

Dobbs is tied for second on the team with eight tackles through two games. His only tackle last season came in the Bulldogs' Sugar Bowl romp over Hawaii, but his emergence this season has come at a good time.

Georgia lost its top defensive lineman, senior Jeff Owens, to a season-ending knee injury in its opener against Georgia Southern. Another defensive tackle, Kade Weston, has missed the first two games with a sprained knee. Backup defensive end Michael Lemon was dismissed from the team in July.

Georgia needed a player to step into the void, and Dobbs has seized the opening.

He played tight end and defensive end at Calvary Baptist High School in Savannah, and said the interception return was his first touchdown on defense at any level.

It was Georgia's longest touchdown on an interception return since 2003, when Odell Thurman scored on a 99-yard return.

Cornerback Prince Miller set up the big play when he deflected a pass. Dobbs came behind Miller to catch the deflection.

"I started out rushing the passer and he got rid of it so I dropped back," Dobbs said. "It was a great play by Prince Miller to tip the ball. We are taught to run to the ball. I ran to the ball, caught it and saw green. I was fortunate enough to score a touchdown."

Dobbs may not start if Georgia returns to a four-man defensive front against South Carolina, but he is expected to be part of a rotation.

Georgia has averaged 50.5 points and 543.5 yards in nonconference wins over Georgia Southern and Central Michigan, but it could use scoring help with another big defensive play in its first Southeastern Conference game against South Carolina.

The Gamecocks did not allow a touchdown in a 16-12 victory at Georgia last season. They also held Georgia out of the end zone in a 14-9 win in Athens in 2001.

Georgia took five straight wins over South Carolina from 2002-06, but it scored more than 20 points only once in that span.

The Gamecocks are 1-1 following a loss at Vanderbilt.

"South Carolina has a great team and a great coach," Dobbs said. "They have some good playmakers. They are coming off a loss, so they have a monkey on their backs. We have to be ready to play."




 

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