ATHENS — Here are some things about the Bulldogs you’ll want to know heading into this week.
1. And now, we wait.
Kirby Smart kind of/sort of hinted Saturday that the Georgia coaches might make a decision on a starting quarterback and/or a quarterback rotation over the next couple days. Of course, they might not also, or just decide on it and choose not to share it with the public. We can’t be sure.
The Bulldogs did not practice Sunday or Monday and Smart won’t be available to answer reporters’ questions again until Wednesday. In the meantime, he and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the other offensive coaches planned to be meeting and closely reviewing video from this past Saturday’s scrimmage and all the other data they’ve collected over the last three weeks in an effort to make an informed decision on the situation.
It sounds like the Bulldogs already know what they’re going to do. Freshman Jacob Eason is got more reps with the No. 1 and 2 offenses so the coaches could see how he would perform this past Saturday. Senior Greyson Lambert and junior Brice Ramsey split all the No. 1 snaps in the spring and most of them the first couple of weeks of preseason camp.
Said Smart: “We’ve got a plan in our mind, but that’s not for public opinion and not to share with North Carolina and everybody else in the world. So we’ll execute the plan and it’ll be what it’ll be.”
2. Probably the best way to predict how the quarterback position might be handled by Georgia this season is to look at how Alabama has handled its quarterbacks the last couple of years. After all, Smart has pretty much followed the Crimson Tide’s script every step of the way so far with the Bulldogs. And really, he has done that to the letter with the QBs already.
The last three seasons, Alabama has gone deep into August with uncertainty about who would start at quarterback. In fact, often those competitions went on into the seasons. Jake Coker, last year’s starter on the national championship team, wasn’t solidified as the starter until after the third game of the year against Ole Miss, and he didn’t start in that one.
“Let me be very clear,” coach Nick Saban likes to say, “we’re not going to be in any hurry to decide who the quarterback is.”
And the same goes with this season. Like Georgia, Alabama just completed its second scrimmage of the preseason. Like the Bulldogs, the Tide has yet to narrow its competition to fewer than three quarterbacks. In fact, they’re still evaluating four in Tuscaloosa – Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts.
3. This much is certain: Elijah Holyfield hurt his ankle in Saturday’s scrimmage. This is not: The seriousness of it.
That latter is really important. There are all kinds of ankle injuries and they come in various types and grades. There has been no word yet on whether the freshman tailback sustained an upper- or lower-ankle sprain and, thus, how long he might need to recover.
It’s a tough blow in any case. Holyfield had emerged as possibly the best big-play threat after Nick Chubb among the healthy tailbacks. Junior Sony Michel is getting more work in the offense but remains under no-contact restrictions while the two broken bones in his left forearm continue to heal.
In the meantime, Georgia’s doctors and trainers are sure to be keeping a close eye on Holyfield’s ankle. A foot injury impacted much of Holyfield’s senior season at Woodward Academy and limited his play.
Holyfield left the football facility on Saturday in a walking boot. The Bulldogs do not return to the practice field until Tuesday afternoon, so his availability won’t be known until then.
Most importantly, Nick Chubb continues to be “a workhorse” in camp and he and senior Brendan Douglas remain healthy and prove capable of carrying the load. Freshman Brian Herrien got the majority of work in Saturday’s rain-soaked scrimmage.
4. Smart did offer one reveal in his post-scrimmage remarks on Saturday. Both his coordinators – Chaney on offense and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker – will be on the sidelines with the players rather up in the coaches’ box during games this season
Both coordinators are veterans and have done it both ways in their careers. And both said they were uncertain how they were going to handle it at the outset of preseason camp. The Bulldogs practiced with designated coaches “up in the box” and communicated play calls via hand signals during Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We did everything like a normal game,” Smart said. “That was just a dry run. We did simulate that.”
5. There still is no word on whether Gunnar Bentz will face any punishment from UGA for his actions in Rio de Janeiro last week. However, it appears some sort of discipline will be on its way from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
USOC chairman Scott Blackmun told ESPN on Sunday that his organization will be taking some sort of punitive action against Bentz and fellow American swimmers Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen and Jack Conger for their respective roles in an embarrassing incident that took place last week in Rio de Janeiro.
“They let down our athletes,” Blackmun said. “They let down Americans. And they really let down our hosts in Rio who did such a wonderful job, and we feel very badly about that. I think we ended up in the right place in terms of being able to shine a light on what really happened there.”
Bentz, a rising junior at UGA, became the Bulldogs’ first male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal. But instead of a hero’s welcome, he returned to Athens a day late this past Friday after being detained by police in Rio for further questions regarding his role in an incident in which the swimmers are accused of engaging in lewd and destructive behavior at a gas station.
Bentz has denied his role in an alleged act of vandalism that occurred and insists he has been completely truthful with authorities throughout. He issued a statement on the incident this past weekend.