Georgia Football: Five Things to Watch vs Middle Tennessee State

Georgia Football Hairy Dawg (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
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Georgia Football
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Inside Linebacker Monty Rice

Freshman middle linebacker Monty Rice has turned heads with his play thus far this season. He is embarking on the impossible mission of replacing All American linebacker Roquan Smith. He has been on our radar as a player to watch since before the season opener.

Through two games Monty Rice has 12 tackles, seven solo. In his debut he had just four tackles, though he split time with several other linebackers. Rice immediately doubled that production in his first SEC game in Columbia, South Carolina.

Monty Rice was noticeably quicker at reading and reacting to plays, in his second career game. He was able to diagnose runs and flow toward the football. Rice has also showed terrific coverage skills, staying with running backs out of the backfield stride for stride.

Monty also swatted down a Jake Bentley pass for his first career pass breakup versus the Gamecocks.

Coach Kirby Smart has used multiple guys at inside linebacker this season. The most notable players used have been seniors Natrez Patrick and Juwon Taylor.

Another great performance, and a noticeable uptick in awareness against MTSU, could go a long way towards Rice earning a permanent spot in the Dawgs starting lineup. Rice certainly is the closest to Roquan Smith, in regards to athletic ability.