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Post Getting to 70

Thursday August 1, 2019

As practice opens on Friday, we’ll have the usual questions to answer: who steps up to replace the players no longer on the team, who will start, and which newcomers are ready to contribute right away.

A recent UGASports.com podcast reminded me that the schedule presents another preseason question Georgia hasn’t had to deal with in several years: Georgia opens on the road for the first time since 2013 and opens with a road conference game for the first time since 1994. Why does that matter? Georgia can only travel 70 players to Nashville. At least 14 scholarship players won’t make the trip, and that number could be higher if walk-ons are needed for special teams or depth (like a third quarterback.)

That limit means that the travel roster, or at least its first draft, has to be settled in preseason camp. The job isn’t just identifying starters or even the two-deep. The staff must also form personnel groups, special teams units, and select kick returners from that 70.

Coaches won’t have a home game or even a road/neutral nonconference game in which to evaluate the roster before deciding who makes the cut. All of that work must be done in August, and the 28 newcomers or redshirted players won’t have long to make an impression. For those who aren’t established starters it creates a little more urgency to stand out over the next four weeks.

Injuries will do some of the deciding for the coaches. Players like Rian Davis and Ryland Goede who are working back from knee surgeries will likely be scratches. Georgia will have the luxury of redshirting several incoming offensive and defensive linemen, so they’ll also be candidates to miss the trip. Those newcomers who enrolled early and went through spring drills will probably have a leg up over those newcomers who didn’t arrive until June. Still, at some of the unsettled positions like receiver and defensive back, the opportunity to make the 70 is wide open.

No, it’s not as critical as it might be if Georgia were opening with Auburn. It does set a bit of a pecking order and sets the bar for those who didn’t make the roster. As we know with this staff, nothing is set in stone from week to week, and there will be plenty of time in September for other players to make their case. After Vanderbilt the team will have over a month at home to evaluate and refine its travel list before the next road game at Tennessee, and we might expect to see a slightly different 70 make that trip.

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  • Interesting. Something I hadn’t considered about opening at Vandy. Puts a little extra emphasis on pre-season camp.

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