ATHENS — Georgia nosetackle Jordan Davis exploded out of his stance and lifted the tackling dummy, squeezing it as he charged running down the field.
“Wrap up!” a unidentifiable coach yelled. “We need to tackle better!”
There was a notable sense of urgency in the drill work observed during the media viewing portion of practice on Tuesday.
Jordan Davis appears closer to 100 percent than he was in last Saturday’s loss to South Carolina
The No. 10-ranked Bulldogs, now on the outside looking in on the College Football Playoff projections, find themselves with something to prove against incoming Kentucky on Saturday night.
Some, including ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, no longer believe Georgia will win the East Division.
Coach Kirby Smart has said the focus for his team needs to be more immediate. It starts with the 6 p.m. kickoff against the Wildcats at Sanford Stadium (TV: ESPN).
“I know our guys are excited to get moving forward and get to work on Kentucky, which has a physical football team,” Smart said. “We have really good leadership on the team. I know they’re prepared for that. And there’s no time sitting back feeling sorry for yourself because you’ve got good teams each and every week.”
Georgia proved itself a contender when it was full strength. But there are questions about whether the program has championship caliber depth.
The most pressing area of concern is at receiver, where Lawrence Cager (shoulder/rib) remains missing from practice and out indefinitely.
The offensive line is also out of sorts with left guard Solomon Kindley still not looking healthy in practice and his backup, Justin Shaffer (neck), still missing from practice and on week-to-week status.
It has forced Cade Mays to left guard — his fourth position of the season — while Ben Cleveland tries to remain healthy enough to anchor down at right guard. Last Saturday, with Big Ben banged up, sophomore Jamaree Salyer finished the game at right guard.
The return of a healthy Davis on the defensive line is big, as he ranks as one of the more dominant run stuffers in the SEC.
Sophomore cornerback Tyson Campbell has been back in full-speed drills the past two days. It has provided more optimism Campbell could be back sooner than later from the painful turf toe ailment that has sidelined him since Sept. 14.
Freshman defensive lineman Travon Walker, however, continues to be out. Walker was spotted with a cast on his left arm and not dressing out for last Saturday’s game.
Linebacker Nate McBride has been missing the past two days because of a family funeral, per UGAsports.com.
Georgia-Kentucky Game Week