Head coach Kirby Smart knows Georgia has a ton of things to work on. It excites him that Georgia has the opportunity to work through some of the questions about this team, particularly at some key positions.
The Bulldogs’ first game isn’t until Sept. 3, giving Georgia plenty of time to focus on improving itself before really revving up for the Oregon Ducks.
As it stands at the start of August, there are four positions where a serious battle for playing time will take place. Those would be both guard spots on the offensive line, the No. 2 inside linebacker spot opposite Jamon Dumas-Johnson, the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Kelee Ringo and the safety spot opposite Chris Smith.
Smart provided his thoughts on those various position battles and we’re able to sprinkle in a little bit of practice knowledge about where players are running. It’s far too early to call any of these battles and the scrimmages later in camp will go a long way in dictating who ultimately earns the starting slot.
Kirby Smart provides key details on various Georgia football position battles
Position: Right and left guard
Players to know: Tate Ratledge, Devin Willock, Xavier Truss, Dylan Fairchild, Warren Ericson
What Kirby Smart had to say about the position: “Going into fall camp -- training camp, they might have strengths in the eyes. One guy may be better at pass pro, one guy more powerful. One guy may be more intelligent. One guy may be more dependable because he’s there every day because he’s able to practice every day and he’s not out for injury. But we’re going to base the decision on how they practice. And I don’t have that body of work to say what that is. But the guys will roll in there. Warren Ericson will be in there. Tate will be in there. Truss will be in there. Willock will be in there. Fairchild will be in there. I mean, all these guys are factors and they’re there to compete for this job. And we want the best one to win out. But at the end of the day, we’re going to have guys -- Micah is going to be another guy in there competing for it. So there’s a lot of guys that have played some football. But guard’s a unique position because it’s different than tackle. You can get attacked from all angles. You got to play with power, play against the best defensive tackles in the country who line up across from you, the Jordan Davises and Devontes are in our league. So you got to be able to withstand their pressure and them pushing the pocket. So you got to be able to generate power and be able to communicate outwardly to your tackle. So the factors that go into playing guard for us are endless. And we’re going to find out who the best guys are based on practices.”
Early handicap: Marshall was working with the first team alongside Dumas-Johnson. Davis and Mondon were with the second team at practice, with Sorey teaming with freshman Jalon Walker.
Marshall has the experience edge and was able to practice more than Mondon in the spring as both dealt with injuries. It’s important to note Georgia will likely rotate and thus play four players at inside linebacker. Smart’s comments about Mondon were certainly eye-raising and indicative of someone who the coaching staff thinks will play a big role this season.
Names to know: Kamari Lassiter, Nyland Green, Daylen Everette, Jaheim Singletary, Julian Humphrey
What Kirby Smart said: “You show me a freshman DB that played in the SEC, I’ll show you a guy that gave up plays. All right? That’s the common denominator. Now, every now and then you have a guy that comes long who’s just -- I think of a couple of those guys that had to play as freshman, they played really big. It happens from time to time. And if you’re going to have a guy be an elite player as a freshman, it’s usually at a skilled position like receiver, running back, or defensive back. I don’t foresee one of those guys just coming in and dominating. A lot of the accolades that come with them, they dropped them at the door. And they go to sweating and they go to work. So we’re not going to live off high-rankings and what people said about them, because there’s a lot of good football players out there that you guys didn’t rank high or did have high. So it goes both ways. We will need those guys to be core special teams players. We will need those guys to be ready to play in the case of, you know, injuries, targetings or whatever may be there. But we’ve got to get them ready by how we prepare in this training camp. And I’m excited about all those guys.”
Early handicap: Lassiter was working with Ringo on the first team. Everette and Green were on the second team. If Lassiter is able to have a camp similar to what he had last season, this may not be a competition for much longer. Everette might be ahead of the other freshmen right now in large part because of his work this spring. Singletary though has the type of athletic tools that scream SEC cornerback.
Names to know: Dan Jackson, Tykee Smith, David Daniel-Sisavanh, Malaki Starks, JaCorey Thomas
What Kirby Smart said: “As far as who will be opposite him, a lot of guys are in that mix. Tykee’s worked there some, Dan’s worked there some. The two freshmen will factor in there. David Daniel will factor in there. We’re not looking to find the starter opposite him. We’re looking to find the best four safeties we can find. We didn’t have enough DBs. We don’t know what that’s going to look like this year in terms of, Do we have six effective DBs or are we more talented at the linebacker position that we have to have more linebackers on the field?”
Early handicap: Jackson has the inside track at safety at this point, as Smith is still slowed by his ACL injury from last season. The brace on his leg is quite noticeable out at practice and as of Thursday Smart said Smith had not been fully cleared for practice. Georgia also has Javon Bullard and William Poole available, but those two are seen as nickel backs.
Defensive backs coach Fran Brown was working exclusively with the cornerbacks in the limited viewing window the media had while out at practice, with Will Muschamp working with the safeties.
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