Steven Colquitt/UGA
Georgia coach Kirby Smart will see what defensive back Deangelo Gibbs (8) and other members of the secondary can do Saturday when the Bulldogs scrimmage.

Georgia football: Should Bulldogs fans be concerned with the depth in the secondary?

Cy Brown

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Georgia football looking for depth in secondary

Georgia football’s strong suit this season is its defense. Every starter, except nickelback Maurice Smith, returned for another season. Beyond that, most of the two-deep in the front seven is back for another year, giving Georgia one of the deepest defensive lines and linebacker corps it has had in ages.

But there is considerably less proven depth in the secondary, and apparently it’s showing. Coach Kirby Smart voiced his displeasure with the state of the secondary after it gave up some big plays in practice this week.

“We’ve got some big guys up front. We’ve got some linebackers who can run,” Smart said, according to Jason Butt of The Telegraph. “But we haven’t played to the level I think we’re capable of in the secondary.”

Even with all the returning starters in the secondary, Smart has still opted to shake up things in a bid to maximize the potential of the unit. Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker are the likely starters at corner, and Dominick Sanders has a lock on one of the starting safety spots. J.R. Reed has turned heads at safety and could earn that starting job, which allows Aaron Davis to move from safety to nickelback, where he can compete with Tyrique McGhee and freshman Deangelo Gibbs for a key role.

After that, it gets a bit trickier. Smart made a big push to recruit defensive backs in the Class of 2017, knowing the impending depth issues that could befall the Bulldogs this season. So far in camp, we haven’t heard much about any of those freshmen. As mentioned above, Gibbs could get work at nickel. But while Richard LeCounte III, Ameer Speed, Latavious Brini, Eric Stokes, William Poole and Tray Bishop all have the potential to become major players in the Georgia secondary one day — and some of them certainly will — none have progressed enough in their short time in college to convince Smart he should be unconcerned with the secondary’s depth. Again, from Jason Butt of The Telegraph:

“We have a void in our secondary,” Smart said. “We have old, and we have young and nothing in the middle. It’s really concerning. We’re having to move guys around. … We don’t know who that one spot may lose [a player] to injury, and you don’t know where your depth is going to be.

“These freshmen have not shown up in the secondary to make themselves ready to play like maybe a running back has or a wide receiver has, or a different position might have. That’s the deficiency and where we need improvement.”

Can I kick it?

Georgia’s starting kicker and punter spots are up for grabs and the competition to land those coveted gigs is intensifying. Rodrigo Blankenship is battling graduate transfer David Marvin for the role of kicker, while Marshall Long is attempting to stave off graduate transfer Cameron Nizialek at punter. And Smart thinks the competition for these jobs will make whoemver eventually wins them better. According to my colleague Chip Towers:

“The competition is driving each person every day, to raise their level. It’s well thought of that high-stress situations create your best. Those guys, they’re like assassins. They got one shot. It’s all they got. They’re getting those kind of hit-or-miss opportunities every day.

“I think Cam’s doing a good job with the punting. He’s leading that charge. Marshall is still competing with him. The field goal kicking and kickoff situation is really tight. Those two guys are neck and neck, competing with each other. But it’s still early.”

Is it Terry Godwin’s time?

One of the big questions facing Georgia’s offense this season is which wide receiver will step up and be Jacob Eason’s top target. Count Seth Emerson of DawgNation among those predicting Terry Godwin as the answer.

“One early takeaway from preseason camp is to buy into Godwin. He’s been discounted because of his height, and the tendency to pigeonhole hole him into a slot role. Lately, the coaches have also been having him run routes from the outside, and I just get an overall feeling that Godwin is going to have a big role. My guess is he’ll be the leading receiver in catches and yards this year.”

Dawgs at the PGA Championship

Former Georgia golfer Kevin Kisner leads the PGA Championship after one round of play. He shot a 4-under-par 67 on the first day at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., tying him with Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark atop the leaderboard. Kisner will begin the second round on the back nine on Friday. He’s paired with Jim Furyk and Daniel Berger, and the trio is slated to tee off at 8:45 a.m. ET.

Fellow former Georgia golfer Brian Harman also finds himself near the top of the leaderboard heading into the second round. Harman shot a 2-under 69 to put him in a tie for eighth place. He’ll tee off at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday with Steve Stricker and Jonas Blixt.

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