A perfect day for football brought out a record G-Day crowd, and they got a show. Even with the shuffling of lineups and the unfamiliar reserves filling out the rosters, G-Day for once turned into a somewhat compelling game. The black team (largely the retooled starting defense) made things difficult for the red team, and they were able to make a couple of late plays to pull off a mild 23-17 upset of the red team. I admit that I wanted to see Murray come out for red’s final possession as he did in the first half and try to win the game with a 2-minute drive.
I wanted a chance to watch the broadcast before writing this up and finally got a chance to do it. Enough has been written by now that we’ll hit just a couple of positions and finish with some other notes.
Give me Mitchell, Bennett, Conley, and Rumph as the first four receivers, and I feel about as comfortable with that position as I do with Marshall and Gurley at tailback. Rumph needn’t have a Cordarrelle Patterson type of impact – he’ll be a tough matchup for anyone as a 3rd/4th receiver. The combination of size, decent speed, and the ability to fight for a few extra yards after contact give Georgia a nice option even if he might not yet be polished enough to be a starter.
The receivers were a big question that lingered into the season as we wondered whether King and Brown could handle larger roles. As we learned that they could, the position became a strength, and the offense prospered. Replacing those seniors was the question entering this season, and we seem to have the answer much sooner this year.
With a nervous eye on Bennett’s recovery (on track) and Mitchell’s meniscus surgery, we also saw last season that the depth has to go beyond just the first four. I’m fairly comfortable with the next group – Wooten and McGowan are seniors who are more than familiar with the offense, and Murray seems to have confidence going to McGowan. Justin Scott-Wesley continues to develop and had some nice catches on Saturday; I doubt the coaches will hesitate to call on him during the season. Tibbs had a rough start – a bad drop followed by a personal foul out of frustration. We heard enough about Tibbs in practice last season to want to see more, but the depth is solid enough for now that he won’t be thrown into the fire yet.
It wasn’t so much that a defensive lineman was dominant. It was that several players look ready to contribute. That was the main concern – after losing Jenkins, Geathers, Jones, and Washington, there had to be more than one player emerge to help Garrison Smith. That’s what happened at both tackle and end. Thornton and Mayes were active inside, and Mayes looks like he will be the second JUCO (after Rumph) to see a fair amount of playing time. Ray Drew seems to have found a home at defensive end, and every time we looked it seemed as if he was chasing quarterbacks in the backfield. We were interested to see how Taylor’s size would affect his move to defensive end, but he thrived there with two sacks and seven tackles in the G-Day game. Taylor has earned the attention of his coaches, and it will be tough to keep him off the field.
One thing you couldn’t get a handle on thanks to the format of G-Day is how Coach Wilson will approach the rotation for the line. Garner was known for his doghouse and a very conservative approach to substituting. Georgia still isn’t especially deep along the defensive line, but its strength might be in a pool of at least six capable guys (depending on Toby Johnson’s recovery from knee surgery). We’re at least encouraged that Wilson, like Friend on the other side of the line, will have some options and choices at his disposal.
- Bobo wasn’t especially down on the offensive line, but it was hardly a dominant performance. This is the classic spring game conundrum, but it’s hard to imagine noticing the play of so many defensive linemen without some help from the OL.
- Bobo put some of the defense’s nine sacks on quarterbacks holding onto the ball too long. I can’t remember ever seeing so many quarterback scrambles – the game’s leading rusher at halftime was Hutson Mason.
- Speaking of Mason, the scrimmage did little to change the outlook at quarterback. Mason was shaky in the first half (and the interception he threw was just a bad decision), but at least he settled in. Mason eventually brought the black team back for the win and ended up completing 16 of 27 attempts. It’s a bit of a toss-up after that though. Ramsey is headed for a redshirt. Going just by this game, Welch seems to be the better option at #3. LeMay had a couple of passes (including the interception) that should have been caught, but those were his passing highlights.
- Chris Conley has talked about adding some moves to go along with his speed, and he got the chance to show off a little shiftiness on a nice reception down the south sideline.
- The order behind Gurley and Marshall is something that will have to be revisited closer to the season once the freshmen get here. It’s G-Day tradition to overstate a performance by a reserve tailback, but Karempelis at least saw the field in 2011. J.J. Green didn’t look lost in his debut, and that’s more than you can expect from an early enrollee.
- A lot of eyes were glued to Matthews and Harvey-Clemons in the secondary, but Quincy Mauger quietly had a nice day with eight tackles. Mauger also made a very wise decision: he could have had the hit of the day on an unsuspecting Rumph but spared his teammate. Reggie Wilkerson was put in a tough spot as an early enrollee going up against the first team offense, but he looked surprisingly confident and capable.
- As always, the most important thing about G-Day is getting through it with no serious injuries, and that looks to have been the case. Atkins sprained his knee, but that won’t be a long-term problem. Mitchell and Bennett should be ready to go by early summer, and we should have a fairly full and healthy roster ready to put in work over the summer.
One more thing…it was great to see a nice turnout for Rennie Curran’s book signing. The book had sold out by the time we dropped by, and they were adding to a waiting list. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing it. You can find out more information and pick up a copy of the book by visiting Curran’s web site.