ATHENS — The media wasn’t allowed to watch Georgia’s first scrimmage, and stats weren’t passed out. But let’s not let something silly like that stop us from providing some analysis.
Based on what head coach Kirby Smart said afterwards, and yes, on some morsels of information that have leaked out, here are some thoughts on where we are, three weeks from the season opener.
- QUARTERBACK: When Smart said he wasn’t ready to cut this down to a two-man battle, we take him at his word, especially based on what those at the scrimmage saw. Brice Ramsey, widely thought to be third in the pecking order, had the best day. Not spectacular, we’re told, but good. Jacob Eason, on the other hand, didn’t have as good a day. At least a couple interceptions. If he had played like that on G-Day, there wouldn’t be the wide clamor for him to start the opener. Greyson Lambert didn’t get as many reps, from what we heard, but that may be because the coaches know what they have in him and want to see what Ramsey and Eason can do. So far, it seems, Ramsey is giving Smart and Jim Chaney something to think about, while Eason shows flashes of greatness, but also reminds you occasionally that he’s a freshman. Lambert continues to be the one who knows and runs the offense the best.
- TAILBACKS: Nick Chubb, from all accounts, looked good. He had at least one touchdown run, from what we were told, and had carries where he hit defenders and shed tacklers. The cautionary note came from Smart, who said Chubb “probably didn’t have the suddenness that he’s had in the past.” But that could be just some typical camp fatigue, Smart added. So the takeaway continues to be that Chubb is on track to start against North Carolina. As for Sony Michel, he didn’t scrimmage, so while he’s taken some small positive steps, his status for the start of the season is still very much uncertain. Finally, there weren’t any leaks of great runs by freshman Elijah Holyfield, but based on what we’ve already seen from him this preseason, it’s a coin flip right now whether the No. 3 tailback (or No. 2 if Michel is out) is the experienced Brendan Douglas or the precocious freshman Holyfield.
- RECEIVERS: There hasn’t been huge buzz this camp about anybody here, even Terry Godwin, but that may also be a case of the coaches knowing what they have in him and trying to get reps from others. Michael Chigbu is emerging as the sort of dependable big receiver – Michael Bennett-esque. Jayson Stanley still gets mentions as a speed guy and deep threat. Isaiah McKenzie will continue to get some passes. Riley Ridley has had some moments. And Reggie Davis had a long touchdown catch on Saturday – something Smart volunteered. But overall, the tight ends and tailbacks seem to be getting the most outward buzz.
- OFFENSIVE LINE: After what may or may not have been a brief demotion, Tyler Catalina appears back in the mix for a starting spot on the line. He subbed in at left tackle for Isaiah Wynn, who moved to left guard. That’s the major question for the coaches to answer now: Start Catalina or Wynn at left tackle? Smart basically said afterwards that they have six players for five spots, and after two weeks it appears it’s back to how it was entering the preseason: Wynn, Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke locked in for starting spots, with Catalina and the two guards (Dyshon Sims and Lamont Gaillard) competing for the other two spots.
- DEFENSE: All the attention on the offense, especially the quarterbacks, has made the other side of the ball a bit of a less-studied group. But there’s a lot of uncertainty building at almost every spot. The injuries at defensive line (John Atkins and DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle) have been out or limited, and while those aren’t long-term injuries, it’s still valuable practice days. The Tim Kimbrough transfer makes depth at inside linebacker a constant worry now. And then there’s the secondary, where Maurice Smith’s progress will be closely watched, and freshmen Mecole Hardman (who apparently had a pick on Saturday) and Tyrique McGhee could force his way into the experienced group. … Here’s also a bonus thought on the defense: For all the above-stated concerns, if the offense didn’t have a strong day on Saturday, then maybe that says something more about the state of Georgia’s defense.