3 questions for Georgia coach Kirby Smart on opening day of 2022 fall camp

Tate Ratledge-Georgia football-UGA football
Tate Ratledge earned his first career start against Clemson in the Duke's Mayo Classic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Some six plays in, Ratledge suffered a season-ending foot injury.

ATHENS — Kirby Smart and his Georgia football staff have more questions internally than anyone on the outside might think to ask.

A massive rebuild is underway with 15 players departed to the NFL and another 13 — including four former starters — having left via the NCAA transfer portal.

To be clear, Smart is confident in the culture he has built and the talent of the players he has recruited and developed within the program.

Still, there are some things in football that coaches can’t know until players hit the field and perform 11-on-11 in pads.

That won’t happen at UGA until next week, so Smart can’t be expected to have all of the answers.

Sometimes, even when Smart has the answers, he prefers to be coy and even a little combative.

“Kirby being Kirby” is one of the more entertaining aspects of a Georgia press conference.

Here are three questions Smart can answer on the Bulldogs’ designated “media day,” which will consist of a Q&A with the head coach and a very limited number of players UGA has chosen to meet with the press.

1. Injury status of Tate Ratledge, Tykee Smith

Two questions in one, but that’s how the game is played when the press conference is on the clock and follow-ups are generally not allowed.

Ratledge and Smith are All-SEC and possibly All-American types, both talents that move the needle in their position group when healthy.

Ratledge was the best run blocker entering last season from his right guard position, and Smith came to UGA with All-American hype after performing well in the secondary at West Virginia.

Smith suffered a foot injury in fall camp and returned briefly before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.

Smith’s ability against the run is not questioned, but his pass coverage skills against SEC talent will be an item of interest.

2. Starting cornerback candidates

Nick Saban said it best, more than any other position, cornerbacks determine what you can do with your defense.

Georgia lost its best cover corner in Derion Kendrick and is counting on Kelee Ringo to show the continued improvement he exhibited in the spring G-Day Game.

But there’s a big void opposite of Ringo that will be filled by an inexperienced — but very talented — player, regardless of who gets first shot at the job against Oregon.

Georgia will maintain a competition at that cornerback position through the first month of the season, at least.

3. Offensive personality

Georgia is a chameleon of sorts on offense, with OC Todd Monken changing the scheme from week to week looking to attack defensive weaknesses and maximize offensive personnel.

It seems likely the Bulldogs will utilize plenty of multi-tight end sets, manipulating defenses with difficult matchups like Brock Bowers and Arik Gilbert — players who can line up in the slot or in tight, creating headaches for opponents.

But just how aggressive will Smart allow Monken to be, all things being equal? To some extent, the defense dictates, but to another, every team has its base offense.

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