Jamon Dumas-Johnson critical for Georgia’s high-powered defense

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

ATHENS — Even as a sophomore, inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson has impacted the game in many ways for Georgia.

That impact continued in a 16-6 road win against Kentucky on Saturday, when Dumas-Johnson tied his career high with eight tackles. He attributes his performance to Georgia’s preparation coming into the physical matchup.

“I know that Kentucky is a run-first offense,” Dumas-Johnson said. “They have a big, physical back. So, just putting your eyes (on key players), they’ll take you through the play. Credit to my D-linemen getting knocked back, I had good position to make tackles.”

ExploreMore AJC coverage of the Bulldogs

For Georgia’s defense – ranked No. 1 in the nation in points allowed – communication is key.

“Communication is an important part of this defense, especially when you have the bigs that we have right now,” Dumas-Johnson said. “A lot of communication goes on, because if the team lines straight up, it ain’t going to be pretty good for them. So, (the coaches) try and get us to communicate motion out, motion in, just to try and see if we can communicate as good as we do. I feel like we’ve been doing a good job with that, just got to keep it up.”

Dumas-Johnson has been a key communicator since emerging in his starting role this season.

ExploreNo. 1 Georgia Bulldogs seeing red about goal-line offense

“Yeah, he’s the go-between between from the back end to the front end,” coach Kirby Smart said. “So he and Smael (Mondon) are like messengers. They have to deliver the message frontways and deliver the message backways and make sure we’re on the same page, which is critical in today’s day and age of offense. People are constantly moving, nobody’s sitting still, things change. You got to have great eye control.

“He’s also the signal-caller, the one that gets the signal and tells people what to do. And he holds people accountable, you know, including himself.”

Dumas-Johnson and Mondon have built a connection that allows them to serve in the role. That bond has been strengthened this season, especially with them both being starters. They live together and talk about football all day, while grinding together throughout the year in pursuit of a repeat national championship.

Dumas-Johnson said he enjoys playing next to Mondon. They’ve come together to the point where they can essentially read each other’s mind on the field.

“We know what the other is comfortable with, without even having to talk or say anything,” Dumas-Johnson said. “Who’s ever better for (a certain) position or job right then and there, we’ll send each other over there. That’s how understanding we are with each other.”

Working alongside Mondon, Dumas-Johnson has produced consistently for the Bulldogs’ defense, heading into Georgia’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech on Saturday as one of the team’s most prolific tacklers in 2022. He leads the team in solo tackles (37) and is second in total tackles (54).

Even with all things working in his favor, Dumas-Johnson doesn’t believe that he has played “to the standard” of Georgia football.

“I’ve been playing OK,” Dumas-Johnson said. “But, my teammates keep me high and my coaches keep me high, so it’s OK. It’s not bad or good, just OK. I just have to clean up some eye control.”

Perhaps some of that stems from practice, as Smart believes he can improve in his work heading into games.

Still, Smart sees Dumas-Johnson’s response to those tough practices as a bright sign for Georgia as the season begins to close.

“He hasn’t had some of his best games and best weeks of practices here recently,” Smart said. “But, yet, he still holds himself to a high standard, and he acknowledges that he can do better. And when you have a guy at that position that thinks that way, it’s good hardwiring for your defense.”