Here’s a rundown:
1. Football is back
Spring practice begins Tuesday, and the Bulldogs will take the field for the first time as Kirby Smart’s football team at 4:05 p.m. That won’t be the only unfamiliar aspect for the returning players.
The practice will be conducted at a temporary facility off South Milledge Avenue. Georgia has retrofitted UGA’s Club Sports Complex to accommodate two natural grass fields and one artificial turf field. More on that later.
The football talk will begin in earnest around noon Tuesday as selected players gather for Media Day, followed by Smart’s news conference at 12:15 p.m. We’ll be cranking out stories on DawgNation just as soon as those sessions are completed, if not before.
2. Battle of the quarterbacks
The most high-profile storyline of spring practice obviously is focused on the quarterback competition between senior returning starter Greyson Lambert and freshman early enrollee Jacob Eason. Eric Zeier, who entered the exact same scenario with Greg Talley 25 years ago, weighed on what that feels like this past weekend.
But the quarterback situation actually doesn’t come in as the most urgent business to be settled during spring practice this year. After all, the Bulldogs know they have a serviceable quarterback in Lambert, who went 10-2 as a starter a year ago and can clearly get the job done.
More pressing will be figuring out who can start at the offensive tackle positions, who can be a reliable, big-play receiver opposite Terry Godwin, who might be a dynamic tailback alternative to Sony Michel (you know, until Nick Chubb comes along), who is going to play on the D-line besides Trent Thompson and John Atkins, and who in the world is going to kick?
There are other questions to get answered, but those are obvious ones. The ‘Dogs will have 14 practice opportunities to work on these things. Then they’ll put it all on display during G-Day on April 16.
3. Dawg Walk in the spring
Speaking of G-Day, Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity announced this past Saturday on WSB that the Bulldogs plan to conduct the “Dawg Walk” prior to G-Day. This is a change from years past. Of course, this is also the first time UGA has ever called for fans to “sell out” Sanford Stadium for its annual spring football game.
The Dawg Walk is just one of several “surprises” Georgia plans to break out for the spring game. Expect the Bulldogs to roll out some other announcements regarding G-Day activities in the coming weeks.
UGA is now marketing Saturday, April 16 as “93K Day” and is using the hashtag #93Kday on all its social media announcements.
4. Next up for UGA basketball
Meanwhile, the story for Georgia’s basketball season has been written. The Bulldogs came up short of the NCAA tournament, which is a disappointment. As we saw at the end of the season, this bunch was capable of being a tournament team. Those losses to Auburn, Ole Miss and Kansas State loom large right about now.
But there should be a lot of optimism surrounding Mark Fox’s program going forward. The prospect of J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten being back coupled with the progression trajectory that Derek Ogbeide, Mike Edwards, Turtle Jackson and E’Torrion Wilridge are on should create excitement for the future.
What’s going to be telling in the meantime is how this squad reacts to the disappointment of being left out of the big dance. Depending on Frazier’s availability — he may have to sit out Wednesday’s game against Belmont with an ankle injury — Georgia should be in position to make a bit of a postseason run. Often young teams like this that do well in the NIT set the stage for big runs the next season.
5. SEC opener for UGA baseball
Georgia baseball opens its SEC slate on Friday when it plays host to Kentucky in the first of a three-game weekend set. But first the Bulldogs (12-5) play host to Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Georgia comes into the week on a four-game winning streak after splitting a two-game set with Charlotte last week and sweeping Lipscomb at Foley Field this past weekend. The Bulldogs will start freshman left-hander Kevin Smith (2-0, 2.60 ERA) against the Owls Tuesday. He earned a win in his last start, beating Charlotte 6-3 last Wednesday, going 7.2 innings and allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Against Kentucky, Georgia will likely stick with the rotation it used last weekend, going with junior RHP Robert Tyler (1-1, 3.38 ERA, 33 Ks, 4BB in 21.1 IP), senior RHP Heath Holder (0-1, 1.99 ERA) and junior LHP Connor Jones (3-0, 3.15 ERA).