Georgia football-South Carolina-Arian Smith
Georgia wide receiver Arian Smith (11) during the Bulldogs’ game against UAB in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

Development of Arian Smith, Broderick Jones and Jack Podlesny worth watching for Georgia football

Arian Smith made his first catch last season against South Carolina. It went for a 31-yard touchdown.

It happened to be the shortest reception of his college career. Smith had a 55-yard reception against Cincinnati in the bowl game. He then hauled in a 61-yard catch against UAB last week that also went for a touchdown.

“It was big for him,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.

“Arian is still a work in progress in terms of developing as a route runner and in growing as a player has been really valuable in terms of special teams with his speed,” Smart said.

Related: Kirby Smart: Georgia football could get key receiver back in the rotation

Smith downed two punts inside the Clemson 20-yard line in Georgia’s first game of the season. It’s a positive sign for his future that he’s already playing a key part on Georgia’s special teams, while he takes his time to develop as a receiver.

If there’s been one big obstacle for Smith and his development, it’s actually been his health. Smith ended up leaving Saturday’s game with a lower leg injury. That comes after missing six games last season with a knee injury as well.

“He’s practicing with us, he’s not 100 percent, but he is practicing with us,” Smart said. “He did get dinged up, but it was a bruise so we’re pushing through and he’s doing the things he can do to be healthy.”

Broderick Jones continues to make strides

As Georgia tries to figure out its offensive line, many eyes will continue to be on redshirt freshman Broderick Jones.

Jones didn’t start against UAB, but he earned significant playing time, including playing snaps during the first half for Georgia in its win over the Blazers.

Going forward, the Bulldogs will be looking to get Jones on the field more often.

“I think Broderick (Jones) playing at tackle and gaining confidence there certainly helps give you that option,” Smart said. “It was Broderick’s first really substantial playing time out of games we had leads in last year.”

Related: Kirby Smart speaks bluntly about the Georgia offensive line: ‘We have to play better up front’

The working theory has been that if Jones can emerge as your left tackle, you could slide Jamaree Salyer down to guard.

Salyer certainly thinks Jones has the talent to man the position for the Bulldogs, as Jones entered the Georgia program as a 5-star prospect.

“Broderick is already a gifted kid, a gifted pass blocker,” Salyer said. “He’s got things that I wish I could’ve had at his age. He can ball.”

If there’s an area Jones must improve, it comes in the running game. Physicality is not Jones’ best attribute, nor does it seem to be the strength of the Georgia offensive line at the moment.

Jones has the potential to help the Georgia offensive line. If he’s able to do so, it could greatly improve a unit that hasn’t shined through the first two weeks of the season.

“Mostly just talk to him about consistency, being consistent,” Salyer said of how he tries to help Jones improve. “A lot of things in the run game. Just trying to keep simple because he’s talented enough. It’s just the small little details that we’re trying to translate on game day.

Big week for Jack Podlesny

Perhaps no one had a better end to the 2020 season than Jack Podlesny. The kicker nailed a 53-yard field goal to beat Cincinnati and earned a scholarship shortly afterwards.

But that late-season success hasn’t carried over into the 2021 season. The junior kicker has missed 2 out of his 3 field goal attempts. Both misses have come within 40-yards.

Despite the early misses though, Smart isn’t yet wavering on his confidence in Podlesny.

“It’s one of those things that we got to help him out and push him to he’s been really consistent in his career as a starter here,” Smart Said. “(We) still believe in him and we’re gonna work through it, and I think he’s still got a great leg you know he’s hit clutch field goals multiple times.”

The Bulldogs do have options to replace Podlesny if his struggles continue. Redshirt freshman Jared Zirkel is an option and pushing Podlesny in practice. The Bulldogs also have star punter Jake Camarda as a possible option as well.

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