LB Natrez Patrick explains the derivation of ‘Savage’ label for Georgia’s defense

ATHENS — One of the great things about getting some interview time with Natrez Patrick is you always learn something new when you talk to him. Like Tuesday, when the senior linebacker spoke after Georgia’s practice.

It was then that we were informed that the whole “Savage” theme that we’re seeing with the Georgia defense —  you know, the spike golden shoulder pads for turnovers, the famous catchphrase for the heralded 2016 recruiting class — that all started with the inside linebackers, according to Patrick.

Patrick was answering a reporter, who asked if the outside linebackers were “The Wolf Pack,” then what are the inside guys.

“We’re ‘Savages,'” Patrick answered emphatically. “Savages, baby. We trademarked it, but we’ll spread the wealth with the rest of the defense.”

Patrick went on to say that the inside linebackers staked a claim to that tag way before the 2016 recruits adopted it and the entire defense took it over last year.

“Since we’ve been here,” Patrick said, referring to himself and the other seniors who arrived in 2015. “It dates back to Ryne Rankin and Tim Kimbrough. (Others) just kind of ran off with it. But that’s OK. We’ll just kind of lease it out.”

This was not Patrick’s purpose Tuesday, to explain the derivation of the Savage nickname for the Bulldogs’ defense. He was there as a spokesperson for a Georgia unit that currently sits near the top of the SEC in total yards (244 a game) and points per game (8.5). He was there to talk about the challenges that the Bulldogs will face from Middle Tennessee State and its particular brand of pass-happy, spread offense.

And he got around to that eventually. But he was having fun reciting the history of the Savage moniker for the Georgia defense.

“It had to stem from somewhere, you know,” Patrick explained. “It stems from the inside (linebackers) room. It’s just a thing that we play with. The coaches we have, Coach Schu (linebackers coach Glenn Schumann) and Coach Smart, everybody, they tell us, ‘you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t physical; you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t blessed physically.’ So we just tried to kick that up a notch. So we’re savages, rather just being physical.”

Patrick then fielded the natural follow-up question to that. If you were animal, what animal would the inside linebackers be?

“We’ll be some Tasmanian Devils,” he said without hesitation. “You can’t control them.”

Everybody had a nice laugh. The fact is, Georgia’s inside linebackers are playing very well so far. It’s only two games in, but all the questions about “Life After Roquan” seem to have subsided.

So, too, have the ones about if and when Patrick might be available this season. The subject of two separates suspensions last year that encompassed a total of six games and one other earlier in his career, Patrick is not only participating with the team, but acting as the leader of the inside linebackers.

“Natrez is a vocal leader; he’s been a vocal leader for two years now,” coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s a kid who loves the game. Passionate about it. Similar to Led (Jonathan Ledbetter) in that he practices really hard, and he’s not afraid to speak up. He doesn’t worry about what other people think about him and things like that. So he’s done a good job commanding respect from his teammates as far as the way he practices.”

Patrick returned to the starting lineup against South Carolina this past weekend. It was his first start since the SEC Championship Game last December. He had four tackles and a tackle for loss in the 41-17 win over the Gamecocks. He did not record any statistics in the opener.

But while Patrick starting, he’s playing much less overall than he did a year ago. He’s one part of a four-man rotation that includes senior Juwan Taylor, junior Tae Crowder and sophomore Monty Rice. Together they’re getting the job done while no one of them is logging an extraordinary number of snaps the way Roquan Smith did last season.

“To be honest, it’s not too bad when you get a blow,” Patrick said with a grin.

Taylor, a fellow senior inside ‘backer, has also taken on a leadership role with the position group. Smart was complimentary of him as well on Tuesday.

“Definitely of the linebacker unit he’s the hardest-practicing kid on our total defense,” Smart said. “He gets immediate respect from the way he practices, and he is a vocal leader. He’s taken much more of a leadership role. It was important to Juwan to do that.”

But as demonstrated during his 12-minute exchange with media after Tuesday’s practice, Patrick remains the heart and soul of that group. Clearly he is feeling free and loose with his past transgressions fading in the rear and the Bulldogs’ lofty goals of 2018 starting to come into view.

“I just feel like it’s time to be a leader now,” Patrick said. “It’s my senior year and guys are looking up to us for guidance, ‘us’ being the seniors. So I’m just accepting that role.”

And handling it like a Savage, one might add.

The post LB Natrez Patrick explains the derivation of ‘Savage’ label for Georgia’s defense appeared first on DawgNation.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Kazee bracing for fine from the NFL 
Kazee bracing for fine from the NFL 

Falcons free safety Damontae Kazee will likely hear from the league office today about his fine for the hit he put on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday.   “Next question,” Kazee said when asked if he’d heard from the league office.  He’s likely to become the third Atlanta player to be fined this season...
What Drew Brees had to say about the Falcons
What Drew Brees had to say about the Falcons

Here’s what Saints quarterback Drew Brees had to say during his Wednesday press conference with the New Orleans media:  “Completions are good right? Those are positive plays. Trust and confidence in the guys I’m throwing to. Getting time to be able to do it with the guys up front it's everybody working together. Just time on...
Remember when? How things have changed since Braves’ last playoff game
Remember when? How things have changed since Braves’ last playoff game

The Braves are closing in on their first playoff appearance since 2013, and they could secure the berth on their home field this weekend. When the Braves last played in the postseason, they weren’t even in the same stadium they’re playing in now. Check out this video of how things have changed on the local sports scene since the Braves...
Exclusive: Name, logo revealed for new pro football team in Atlanta
Exclusive: Name, logo revealed for new pro football team in Atlanta

The Atlanta franchise in the new Alliance of American Football, which will kick off its inaugural season in February, will be named the Atlanta Legends. “Atlanta makes legends — that’s what the city does,” league co-founder Charlie Ebersol said. “It does it historically, it does it in terms of sports. When I think...
CoMo: A nice little town with a pretty good football team
CoMo: A nice little town with a pretty good football team

ATHENS — I really need to check out the Gateway Arch. All these years of going to Missouri and I’ve still never visited the most famous monument in that state. Located in St. Louis, Mo., the Gateway Arch is, of course, an enormous stainless steel structure that was built in the 1960s to symbolize the westward expansion...
More Stories