SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With four NFL scouts and a representive from the Senior Bowl in attendance, Georgia senior outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy both turned in strong performances in the Bulldogs’ 20-19 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday.
Carter and Bellamy returned for their senior seasons with the hopes of improving their NFL draft stock.
Carter finished with seven tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and two fumble recovers, the last one to wrap up the victory after Bellamy walloped Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
“Coming off the edge, I saw my brother on the other side coming free so I knew I had to get ready for him to make a play,” said Carter, a Norcross High product. “Once he made that play, I had to do what I do and get on the ball.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was pleased with the play of Carter and Bellamy.
“I thought both of them were more of a factor in this game than they were last year,” Smart said. “I thought that they had (an) impact on the game.”
Carter had a sack-strip late in the third quarter, but the offense couldn’t convert the turnover into points.
“He had a hell of a game,” Smart said. “ But did he recover that one? He almost picked it up and ran with it, didn’t he? I thought Lorenzo played great.”
Carter is 6-foot-6 and 234 pounds. He projects into the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a speed rushing end in a nickel package.
Carter showed his ability to turn the corner and hit the quarterback against the Fighting Irish while playing strongside linebacker in Georgia’s defense.
“He’s not playing his natural position, Lorenzo has stepped up and allowed us to play with only four (defensive backs) and that’s been a major concern of ours,” Smart said. “Now (Aaron Davis) went into the game and he helped us, he was able to play and that changes our defense so much. It allows us to be fresh on special teams.
“But Lorenzo has been, his value is he can play in space…. they (must) account for that guy rushing and they (must) account for the guy dropping. And I thought he did a tremendous job. He plays on two special teams, he plays every down on defense, and it’s really kind of amazing that he doesn’t get tired.”
This was the type of game Georgia fans were expecting from Carter when he signed as a five-star recruit.
This was the type of game Carter had on his mind when elected to stay in school, too.
“Oh yeah, most definitely,” Carter said. “I knew we were making this trip up to South Bend and I had to be a part of it. Especially with the way we finished up last year. I wanted to come back and do something better.”
On his sack-strip, Carter turned into a bolt of lightning.
“I just came free,” Carte said. “I had to go in a straight line as fast as I could to the quarterback.”
Much of the pre-game analysis centered about how Notre Dame’s experienced offensive line, with left tackle Mike McGlinchey, would dominate Georgia’s defensive front seven.
That was clearly not the case and McGlinchey, a pro prospect and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s cousin, was the player beaten on Bellamy’s crucial sack at crunch time.
“We are never intimidated by another man,” Carter said. “Intimidation is nothing. We worked hard during the week and came out prepared.”
Carter hopes this is just the start of a monster season for himself and Ballamy.
“I feel like we can get better,” Carter said. “There are things we can improve on. We’re going to get back and watch the film tonight on the plane probably. We’ve got things to fix. We’re never done. We’re never complacent. We just have to get back to work.”
Defensive back J.R. Reed had a career-high nine tackles to lead the Bulldogs followed Carter and linebacker Roquan Smith with seven tackles.
Smith senses that Carter and Bellamy are ready to play at a higher level.
“Oh, they definitely have,” Smith said when asked if they took their play up a notch against Notre Dame. “This is their last ride. So, they definitely have to make the most of it. There is no more after this. Those guys pretty much know that and it’s just an awesome feeling to be able to enjoy this win with my teammates.”