Georgia announced on Tuesday there would be no G-Day game. The SEC had previously announced that spring practice would likely be canceled across the conference, while all spring and winter sports are as well.
Focusing on the football aspect, this obviously has a huge effect on the Georgia football team as well as a select few individuals. A handful of players could’ve really benefited from the extra practices and competitive environment that would have been provided.
Despite being one of the top teams in the country, Georgia had its fair share of questions that needed to be addressed and the Bulldogs could’ve at least started to answer some of them this spring. Below, we get into what exactly those questions were and how they’ve been impacted because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
What will Jamie Newman and Todd Monken look like in a new offense?
The absolute biggest question this spring was what would Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken be able to do to fix the Georgia offense. The unit struggled mightily a season ago and now has to replace All-SEC talents in D’Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas.
Newman and Monken, on paper anyway, figured to make a big change to the way the Georgia offense has been run in the past. Monken’s offenses have tended to feature more vertical passing plays as well as sprinkling in some air raid concepts. The best of Newman’s game at Wake Forest was his deep passing ability but what’s perhaps most interesting about Newman is his dual-threat ability as he ran for 574 yards at Wake Forest last season.
Now, we wait even longer to see how these two work together in an on-field role. If there is a silver lining here, it’s that Newman had been on campus and working with the offensive staff since January, as he enrolled immediately at Georgia. Had Georgia targeted a quarterback who wouldn’t have arrived until the summer, there would somehow be even more uncertainty facing the position.
Who takes the lead at running back?
For the first time since 2012 — my freshman year of college — Georgia doesn’t have a somewhat reliable answer at the running back position. That 2012 season saw both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have strong seasons and lead Georgia to within a few yards of playing for a national title.
And this stable of running backs does have a fair share of talented options it could turn to. The most obvious name to mention here is Zamir White, who is Georgia’s leading returning rusher. He got his first crack at being the starting running back in the Sugar Bowl. He finished that game with 92 yards and a touchdown in the 26-14 win over Baylor.
But White isn’t the only talented running back Georgia could look at. There’s small sample size superstar Kenny McIntosh, as well as jack of all trades, master of none James Cook. Georgia also would’ve gotten its first look at Kendall Milton this spring as well, as he almost certainly would’ve been one of the more intriguing players of the 15 practices.
Now, we’ll have to wait to find out what Georgia has at the position. If there is a positive, it’s that all these guys had been healthy and thus wouldn’t have to worry about rehabbing any previous injuries. That was not the case last spring with Cook and White, who were both still recovering from prior surgeries.
What’s the latest with Dominick Blaylock‘s recovery?
The biggest injury-related worry this spring was with regards to Dominick Blaylock’s knee injury. The now sophomore wide receiver tore his ACL in the opening quarter of the SEC championship game loss to LSU.
The early expectation was that he would be ready to go by the start of fall camp following offseason rehab. Smart obviously would’ve provided an update on how Blaylock is doing in that recovery had he met with the media this week, but that’s no longer the case.
Blaylock and other injured athletes do still have access to the Butts-Mehre facility so the rehab process doesn’t stop. But Blaylock’s routine is likely disrupted because of all this and it will be worth watching how Blaylock progresses in his recovery. Wide receiver is still a pretty big issue for Georgia in 2020 and having a healthy Blaylock will go a long way in alleviating some of those concerns.
Where does Jamaree Salyer line up?
In talking with some of his former teammates at the NFL combine, it’s clear Jamaree Salyer was going to be a key piece of the Georgia offensive line in 2020. The big question with regards to Salyer is at what position would he be playing?
Salyer got the start at right tackle in the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor and played well in the game. He’d spent time working as a back-up at the right tackle spot for the 2019 season. But he might be a better long-term guard than tackle for the Bulldogs as well.
There’s also the fact that Salyer will be getting new instructions as Matt Luke takes over as the offensive line coach for Sam Pittman. How Luke decides to use Salyer and configure the rest of the Georgia offensive line would’ve been an interesting look into the future of the group, especially with the likes of Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge entering the program.
Which defensive youngsters make the leap?
Georgia doesn’t have nearly as much to replace on the defensive side of the ball as it does on offense. But it’s hard not to feel better about those defensive replacements, given we saw what some of them could do on a limited basis in 2019.
Lewis Cine seemed poised to step into J.R. Reed’s spot at the safety position. He got the start against Baylor and saw extended playing time against LSU as well. Nakobe Dean also figured to be the favorite to take over Tae Crowder’s spot at inside linebacker.
And with the likes of Nolan Smith, Travon Walker and Tyrqiue Stevenson all entering their sophomore seasons, it would’ve been very intriguing to see how those guys further develop and possibly help improve one of the best defenses in the country.
What does this do for recruiting?
As we’ve stated before, Georgia is still very involved in recruiting, even if the coaching staff can’t do it in person. But perhaps the biggest loss that comes with the cancellation of G-Day is what it means for recruiting.
It is always a big recruiting weekend for the Bulldogs, as last year it saw Georgia host the likes of future signees in Kendall Milton, Mekhail Sherman and Kelee Ringo. With that opportunity now gone, it’s one less chance for Georgia to impress recruits, especially those who live out of state.
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