Georgia Defensive Tackle Jordan Davis Leads Bulldogs Into Showdown Vs. Florida

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RJ Young

FOX Sports College Football Writer

Jordan Davis

is imposing.

Speaking to the media Monday in Athens, Georgia, he looked fresh from class, wearing a black polo across his chest and camouflage Crocs on his feet. But on the field, he is not the man you want to meet over the nose of a football.

Davis is the 6-foot-6, 340-pound pillar on whom Georgia coach Kirby Smart has built his defensive foundation, and he is whom Smart will trust to lead the No. 1-ranked Dawgs against Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville.

I’ve been loud about my belief that Davis deserves an invitation to the Heisman ceremony at season’s end because he’s the best player on the best unit in the sport.

Nose guards don't get much love, but Davis doesn’t care about individual accolades. He told the media he doesn’t even know when the Heisman ceremony is. And he says he couldn't care less about his stats.

"It doesn’t really matter," Davis said. "At the end of the day, we want to do whatever we can to win."

Davis’ case for the Heisman is hurt by voters who don't pay close attention to the game and instead love to stare at box scores.

The UGA defense doesn’t just use stats available to the public and media to chart its progress. The unit has its own form of accountability. For a player such as Davis, his impact isn't fully measured by stats anyway.

Sometimes, even when he makes a play, it can count against him when his coaches grade him. Davis told reporters that he often gets graded with a plus if he plays the play correctly and a minus if he does not.

"Even if you’re Jalen [Carter] or me or Devonte [Wyatt]," Davis said, "if we make a tackle for loss and we’re out of our gap, that’s a minus."

Such is the demand for following the scheme at Georgia that has helped make this defense the best unit on either side of the football this season.

Among the stats measured for success at Georgia is holding opponents to 13 points or fewer. No opponent has topped that mark. In fact, the UGA defense has allowed fewer touchdowns (four) than games played (seven).

In those seven games, Georgia has faced four ranked opponents and has allowed them just 26 total points. The Dawgs have given up 46 points all season, an average of 6.6 per game. The Bulldogs' D is simply one of the best scoring defenses of the past 30 years.

Georgia is holding opponents to 3.4 yards per play. That’s the best mark in FBS and nearly a full yard per play better than Cincinnati (4.1), 1.2 yards per play better than Ohio State (4.6) and 2.5 yards per play better than Oklahoma (6.1) — all teams that have aspirations of playing in the College Football Playoff.

"We have a chart for pretty much everything," Davis said, "and we’re always wreaking havoc. I know havoc was a theme from last year, but that kind of plays into our elite theme this year and leading the league in defense."

Watching Georgia play defense is inspiring because it demands such concentration. Football is tilted to favor the offense. It’s not just that the offense has the ball. It’s that the offense, like the white pieces on a chess board, has the benefit of moving first.

The offense dictates the terms under which the game will be played — unless it makes a mistake. And Georgia has been exceedingly good at taking advantage of its opponents’ mistakes.

Georgia is doing what other teams have tried to do, only better. Watching Kansas hold Oklahoma scoreless in the first half on Saturday, I could not help but marvel at how Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold chose not to fight the process but to join it.

The Jayhawks ate up the clock and limited OU’s possessions before the Sooners rattled off 35 second-half points in a comeback victory. But you could see the process at work. The process for the Jayhawks' defense was to bend by keeping plays in front of them, not to break by giving up big plays.

No doubt Georgia’s players are better than KU’s players, but the process for winning is the same. And the process needs to be respected.

In "Dune," as in Tuscaloosa with Nick Saban in charge, the process is sacred. It cannot be cheated, and it is not a problem to be solved but one to be experienced.

"A process cannot be understood by stopping it," said Paul Atreides quoting the First Law of Mentat. "Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join in it and flow with it."

If a team is to topple Georgia, the process must be adhered to, and the tremendous talents of youth must be displayed — not unlike 15-year-old Atreides, who was called to lead the Fremen in a holy war in his father’s name.

Against Georgia on Saturday, Florida redshirt freshman QB Anthony Richardson will likely get a chance to run the offense, if not start. Florida is one of the best teams in the country at breaking off explosive plays and averages 7.0 yards per play.

It’s striking to think that the teams with the best chance to beat Georgia all depend on young quarterbacks. In the postseason, Georgia presumably could face Alabama QB Bryce Young, a redshirt freshman, or Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, a redshirt freshman, or Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams, the only true freshman leading an undefeated Power 5 team this season.

The UGA offense does not look like the kind that could win a shootout against an explosive opponent, though the Bulldogs rank ninth in FBS in yards per play, at 6.7. For perspective, Alabama's offense picks up 6.6 yards per play.

While the Bulldogs' defense is elite, all it takes is a couple of explosive plays by an opponent to put pressure on the Georgia offense to score.

Still, what a year this could be for UGA, which hasn’t won a national title in 40 years and is enjoying its best season since 2017.

Perhaps this year Kirby Smart fulfills his destiny at Georgia as national champion.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "i">>The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young." Follow him on Twitter at i">>@RJ_Young, and subscribe to "i">>The RJ Young Show" on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill.

Source : https://www.foxsports.com/stories/college-football/georgia-defensive-tackle-jordan-davis-leads-bulldogs-into-showdown-vs-florida

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