Monday April 14, 2014
A perfect day for a spring game, an entertaining game, and no long-term injuries. We’ll take it.
- If I dare to take one conclusion from G-Day, it’s this: Georgia’s going to go as far in 2014 as its offensive line and secondary allows. That’s not a surprising development – those two areas have seen the most attrition and turnover from the 2013 team. In a way, it was a bit of a relief to see things play out that way. It would have been more of a concern to have seen deficiencies pop up in unexpected areas that were supposed to be strengths.
- Georgia’s going to have a good problem at receiver this fall. We didn’t need much of a reminder of Bennett’s sure hands, but his incredible catch did the job. Conley also didn’t have much to prove, but he looks every bit the polished upperclassman. It’s going to be interesting to see how Mitchell works back in to this group and who Mason settles on as his favored targets. Add back in JSW after a likely suspension, and Mason’s options increase. Richt and Bobo do like to rotate in receivers, so there will be opportunities for the catches that went to Wooten and McGowan last season. Reggie Davis looked most ready to join that next group of receivers. Rumph, a star of the 2013 spring game, had a couple of unfortunate drops. Towns seems more comfortable this year, and he’d get the nod ahead of Tibbs or LeMay.
- Can’t mention the receivers without a nod to walk-on Clay Johnson who led the black team with 5 catches for 75 yards. Johnson takes the Ronnie Powell Award.
- This depth at receiver leads me to think that Tramel Terry might be left to sink or swim on defense. Yes, it’s been a struggle for him. I can see the frustration – as a gifted receiver, it might not be as natural to “become a defensive player.” Moving back to offense would be a long view. It would be tough to get on the field this season even for the most talented newcomer, but Georgia does need receivers for 2015. Does the short-term need at safety trump that? Terry didn’t look as behind the curve on Saturday as his frustration might have led us to think.
- We didn’t see much from the running game, and that’s fine – we were more interested in getting a look at the quarterback depth. We know what we have at tailback with Gurley and Marshall, and Gurley’s few touches were enough to give you the warm fuzzies. His catches out of the backfield are an added dimension to an already-loaded passing game. Douglas will continue to be a factor, and it was a nice debut for Turman. The only question for August is whether Turman and Douglas give the team enough to consider a redshirt for one or both of the prized incoming tailback signees.
- The pass rush is going to be fun to watch. Floyd and Jenkins were as active as we all hoped, but it was also encouraging to see pressure and plays along the line from the next group – Deloach, Bellamy, and Dawson. We also saw a glimpse of what coaches hoped for from Toby Johnson – his agility and size along the line will help make up for the loss of Garrison Smith.
- The offensive line had its hands full with a good pass rush, but it had its moments. Left guard continues to be the biggest question.
- The attrition and injuries in the secondary make it tough to get a read. That said, there were still a few regulars to watch. Moore was active and made a couple of impressive hits. Swann, as we saw last season, seems to be more of a natural fit in the nickel “star” spot. Wiggins and Dawson (not to mention Swann) drew pass interference flags. I suppose the positive is that at least they were in the neighborhood to battle for the ball. As Pruitt continues his work on technique, hopefully those plays will turn into deflections or turnovers. Getting to the spot is a starting point.
- As for the defense overall, it’s still a work in progress. What we’ll see in a few months will depend on how fast some recover from injury while others join the team. An early focus on fundamentals is paying off – we were impressed by the tackling and pursuit. The success of Mason and the first team shows how much work remains, but that’s the core of a very good offense. Finding those missing pieces in the secondary will be the biggest challenge Pruitt faces before his first season as coordinator.
That’s what I saw. How about you?