Georgia football quarterbacks, second-year defenders among the most to gain in walk-through practices
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The Georgia football players with the most to gain in walk-through practices
Georgia, along with the rest of college football, is now entering the next phase of the NCAA’s preseason plan. For the next weeks, schools will be allowed up to 20 hours of team activities. Eight of those will go toward weight training and conditioning. Six of those hours can go towards meetings with coaches, be it at the team or positional level.
And most importantly, teams will be allowed to go through walk-throughs for up to six hours a week, though like the meetings no more than an hour a day. This will give teams the chance to begin installing plays, going through sets and having something that looks like a somewhat real football practice.
This is a big first step for the college football season. For Georgia, it’s perhaps even more important given all the turnover the offense saw from 2019.
While it’s too early to make any declarative statements about these next two weeks, there are a handful of players that stand to really benefit from the additional meetings and walk-throughs.
This isn’t just limited to Jamie Newman or JT Daniels. The entire group stands to benefit from getting reps and instruction from new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Monken.
Splitting reps between the first team will be a bit of a challenge in the walk-throughs, especially with only an hour at most to go over plays and formations a day. But it beats the alternative of not having it all. With no spring practice, this will be Monken’s first chance to see how Newman or any of the quarterbacks look in the new-look offense.
The biggest questions this year all come on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to have figured out who their starting quarterback will be in this two-week period. But these extra walk-throughs and meetings could help one candidate start to emerge when the training wheels come off in August.
Cook doesn’t expect to be the lead or workhorse back for Georgia this year. That role will likely go to fellow 2018 signee Zamir White.
Why the walk-throughs figure to be bigger for Cook though is because it will allow him to get on the field and let Monken see what he’s able to do with his own eyes. And once the new offensive coordinator gets a better idea of what he has to work with Cook, Monken can begin to craft a better-suited role for the running back in his offense.
A season ago, it seemed like every time Cook stepped foot on the field, opposing teams knew what was going to happen. He’d either come in motion and take a speed sweep, or he’d largely be used as a decoy in the short passing game, as he finished with 16 catches for 132 yards. Only Brian Herrien averaged fewer yards per catch among players with at least five catches on Georgia’s 2019 team.
Talent has never been an issue for Cook. And with another year in the Georgia strength and conditioning program, Cook has physically come a long way since his freshman season. But he wasn’t best utilized under James Coley last season.
Monken will now get a chance to capitalize and tinker with that talent within the Georgia offense.
Much like the quarterback room, the offensive line will be under new leadership in the form of Matt Luke. While you could certainly list the entire offensive line here like the quarterbacks, Salyer is someone who specifically has a bit more to gain in these next couple of weeks.
Unlike guards Ben Cleveland and Justin Shaffer and center Trey Hill, Salyer will likely be playing a position he doesn’t have a ton of experience in. He’s made just one career start at right tackle, which came in the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor.
But there’s also the chance of Salyer kicking over to the left side to replace Andrew Thomas, his former high school teammate at Pace Academy. The practices and meetings will give him a chance to continue to hone on some of the finer details of playing either tackle spot, as well as build chemistry and familiarity with his fellow offensive linemen. It is a group that must replace four players with starting experience from last season.
Salyer is expected to be one of the leaders of the Georgia team this year, and a strong start in July could help solidify his spot on the offensive line.
Georgia doesn’t have nearly as much to figure out on the defensive side of the ball, as it brings back eight starters from a season ago, along with a plethora of second-year defenders looking to take on bigger roles.
Johnson qualifies for that as this will be his second and final year playing for defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning. In his first season, the outside linebacker battled injuries yet still finished with 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Johnson figures to rep at Sam outside linebacker position but has the athletic versatility to do a lot more for Georgia. Tapping into that versatility and seeing what he’s capable of doing, will go a long way in unlocking the potential of the Georgia defense.
— Jermaine Johnson II (@ii_jermaine) April 22, 2020
One area the Georgia defense needs to improve in is both in the sacks and tackles for loss categories. If it is able to get more out of Johnson, it can make the gains in that category it needs to in order to possibly be the best defense in the sport.
We wrote last week about the opportunity Stevenson now has with Divaad Wilson in the transfer portal. While he might not be a day-one starter for Georgia in the secondary, Stevenson has an opportunity now to carve out a larger role in a very talented Georgia secondary.
Stevenson is a dynamic athlete and someone who at times in 2019 flashed great versatility in the secondary. He was able to both play well at times in coverage and near the line of scrimmage.
For a Georgia defense that is looking to be more disruptive, Stevenson has the potential to make them just that. To get there though he’ll need to show in these practices and meetings that he’s capable of doing a lot of different things for this Georgia defense. Given the returning depth Georgia has at corner and safety, Stevenson’s best chance of making an impact will come being able to fill in whatever gaps Georgia needs him to in the back end of the defense.
Doing that in these walk-through practices, where the coaching staff will ask him to do a variety of things, could go a long way in getting Stevenson on the field more in 2020.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football preseason overview: THE football is back in Athens
- Why the next two weeks are critical for Todd Monken, Georgia football offense
- WATCH: Sorting out College Football Playoff hopes, implications and Georgia football decisions
- ESPN expert reveals differences in new Georgia football offense
- Georgia football podcast: Evaluating UGA’s chances of beating Alabama twice in 2020
- What social media is saying about Georgia football heading into next phase of preseason calendar
- 3 keys to Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman winning starting position
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