Saturday represents an opportunity for Georgia. While Kirby Smart will never come out and say it, the game against Charleston Southern represents a chance for a number of Bulldogs who don’t normally play a chance to do just that.
While snaps at the end of a blowout might not seem valuable, there’s nothing that replaces live reps against an opponent. A number of players have mentioned in the past how valuable seeing the field has been for their development, even as young players that weren’t yet every-down contributors.
“The only way to do that is reps and reps on top of reps on top of reps, really fast reps,” Smart said Not slow, not video, not talking. Go out there and do it because you can’t simulate the speed of the game. It happens to these guys and the only way they get better at that is going out there and doing it.”
Some Georgia freshmen already make an every-down impact like tight end Brock Bowers or wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. Given we’ve already seen Georgia play in a number of blowouts, we have a decent idea of which players have already separated themselves, and thus stand to benefit from seeing even more reps this weekend.
With Georgia, likely bound for the College Football Playoff, this game — along with next week’s game against Georgia Tech — represents the best chance to get some of the players below on the field before they are asked to be contributors for Georgia.
Brock Vandagriff is a freshman quarterback for the Georgia football team. (Jeff Sentell)
With Stetson Bennett and JT Daniels dominating the quarterback airwaves, there’s been little discussion of the 5-star freshman quarterback.
To date, Vandagriff has only played in the win against UAB. He’s yet to throw a pass. But given his 5-star status, there is still a curiosity that surrounds Vandagriff.
Smart this week gave an update to reporters about how Vandagriff has looked at practice, where he has taking a majority of the scout team reps.
Related: Georgia quarterbacks Brock Vandagriff, Carson Beck earn Kirby Smart’s confidence
“He’s simulated a lot of these guys that we’ve had,” Smart said. “He’s really athletic, makes throws on the run, very accurate. Competitive. He likes going against that defense each day. He doesn’t always have the best protection. We’re not hitting him either. He’s done a really good job.”
Vandagriff will also have to contend with Carson Beck to get reps going on Saturday, but should Georgia handle its business against the Buccaneers, we could get our first look at what Vandagriff looks like throwing the ball in a competitive situation.
Chaz Chambliss is a freshman linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation).
Due to the suspension of Adam Anderson and then a fourth-quarter injury to Nolan Smith, we actually got to see Chambliss last week in the win over Tennessee.
The freshman from Carrolton, Ga., made the most of his extended reps as he notched his first career sack on the final play of the game.
With Smith being a draft-eligible junior and Robert Beal a super senior, Georgia’s outside linebacker room could look very different next season.
There could be a very clear path to playing time for Chambliss if he is able to continue his development and play well when called upon. How he looks on Saturday will be worth watching, along with fellow outside linebacker MJ Sherman. The sophomore was battling the flu last week, which partially explains why Chambliss was in at the end of the game.
Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson will look to see the field against Charleston Southern.
With Georgia having perhaps three of the best inside linebackers in the country, it’s hard for the freshman from Baltimore to find his way onto the field in competitive situations.
But Dumas-Johnson has turned heads with every opportunity. He had a pick-6 in the win over UAB and picked up his first career sack against Missouri. Given how frequently Georgia blitzes from the inside linebacker position, Dumas-Johnson could prove to be a real weapon in that area starting next season.
Dumas-Johnson has benefited somewhat from the injuries to Rian Davis and Trezmen Marshall. Channing Tindall and Quay Walker are both seniors, while Nakobe Dean is a draft-eligible junior. Much like outside linebacker, the inside linebacker position figures to look very different next season.
If Dumas-Johnson and fellow 2021 signee Smael Mondon can continue to impress, it could be yet another positive sign for the future of this group. Even with heavy losses coming
Many thought it would be Nyland Green that turned heads early as a defensive back signee in the 2021 recruiting cycle. He enrolled in January for Georgia and was the highest-ranked of Georgia’s four defensive back signees.
But it’s been Lassiter that was one of the stars of fall camp. As the season has progressed he’s continued to climb the depth chart, with Georgia cross-training him at different positions in hopes of finding a role for him on this defense.
“Kamari (Lassiter) has to be able to play STAR and corner,” Smart said. “You just have to have those so you can get your best guys on the field, should you have injuries.”
Long-term, Lassiter best projects as an outside corner. With Derion Kendrick being a senior, Lassiter will compete with Jalen Kimber, Green and others next year for that starting spot opposite Kelee Ringo. Saturday’s game against Charleston Southern could be another datapoint in Lassiter’s favor if he’s able to find himself in a position to make plays.
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