Linebackers lining up to fill Roquan Smith void

It’s unlikely that any of Georgia’s inside linebackers are going to make Bulldogs fans forget the departed Roquan Smith – he of the Butkus Award and 137 tackles last season -- anytime soon, but the current crew of players will have to assume his duties, starting Saturday against Austin Peay.

Sophomore Monty Rice is one of the players who will take on the role of quarterbacking the defense, and Tuesday he reviewed the responsibilities he, Natrez Patrick, Juwan Taylor and others will take on.

“In our defense, you’ve got to make all the calls and you’ve got to say this and that and sometimes you’ve got to help the D-linemen line up or you’ve got to make them right, so it just comes with being an inside linebacker,” said Rice, who last season recorded 22 tackles in 14 games.

“That’s my role, J.T.’s role, Natrez’s role – whoever’s out there has to have command. The linebackers inside have got to make the calls.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Saturday that he’s been pleased with the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Rice’s production this summer.

“Monty (Rice) has done a good job this camp,” Smart said. “Monty is a wee bit younger than … Juwan in there with Natrez and Tae (Crowder). But Monty is a high-effort guy. Every time we scrimmage or play games or spring game, he seems to put up good numbers.

“He has to do it more consistently in practice, and he has to play with a lot better body position in practice, but Monty is as hard of worker as there is on this team. I've been so pleased with the effort he gives, and he cares about the team a lot.”