ATHENS - Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree in his third year, and is one of the team's most dynamics players, especially against the run.
For the past two years, South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore has gotten the best of the Georgia defense, rushing for a combined 358 yards in two Gamecock wins. Lattimore has been dominant, basically unstoppable.
But here's the thing: Ogletree has never gotten his shot against Lattimore.
Two years ago, Ogletree was suspended for the South Carolina game. Last year, he was out with a broken foot. And he would have missed the Gamecocks again this year if the schedule had stayed as originally set. But the South Carolina game was moved back to Oct. 6, and Ogletree just returned from his four-game suspension. He showed how important he is to Georgia by racking up 14 tackles against Tennessee, a team high.
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"I'm eager because he's a good competitor, and I'm a good competitor too," Ogletree said. "He's been working hard, just like me, and it's gonna be a good game."
Had he played two years ago, Ogletree's impact wouldn't have been huge. He was playing safety that year and was just a freshman, so Lattimore probably still would have rushed for 182 yards. But last year Ogletree, having moved to inside linebacker and much more comfortable in the defense, could have helped keep Lattimore from his 176-yard performance.
"It was frustrating for me not to be out there playing him. I felt like I could. But this is my opportunity this year," Ogletree said. "So I've just gotta go out there and do what I can for the team."
All that said, plenty of people would love to know how to stop Lattimore. He's a big running back who is adept at finding the hole and not going down to the first man. Or the second or third man. And even then he falls forward for an extra yard or two.
Georgia is hoping Ogletree can mitigate Lattimore's impact.
"Alec is a great athlete. He's fast, and he makes a lot of hustle plays. I think his ability will help us," fellow inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. "If Sanders (Commings) comes up, makes a tackle out in the flats and is holding on to him, and Tree comes over and knocks the pile down instead of letting him fall forward, we just saved two yards. And that could be the difference between a first down and fourth down. And that's huge for us."