ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart does nothing by chance, so the recent trend of opening small portions of practices certainly has cause behind it.
Smart, like all elite coaches, is calculated and deliberate with all of his actions. There’s no time for wasted words or wasted actions.
As much of a distraction as the likes of Smart and Nick Saban view the media at times -- both firmly control their team narratives -- there are the benefits of added scrutiny and potential artificial pressure that it brings.
The Bulldogs have several young players that have not been tested under the bright lights of the SEC.
Watching Georgia in full pads in a seven-on-seven skeleton drill provided a glimpse into what the offense will look like when Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck drop back to pass.
Here’s an early stock report based on the three open practices and limited football action Smart has allowed media to witness:
Kenny McIntosh may have been the best all-around back last season, but this year there is little doubt that’s the case. McIntosh runs routes and catches passes with the fluidity of a receiver, and his burst and vision make him an elite ballcarrier.
Brock Bowers was the national FWAA Freshman of the Year for a reason, and it started on the practice field and with his knowledge of the offense. Bowers is a Pro’s pro with how he attacks each drill and carries out assignments.
Christopher Smith has the look of a rising star, seemingly a step ahead of plays from his safety position with the ability to cover or bring the smack. Smith’s play separating Dominick Blaylock from the ball on Tuesday was textbook.
Darnell Washington is a grown man who is ready to go to work in 2022, and pity to any defender assigned to cover him in the Red Zone. The 6-foot-7, 275 Washington should be a TD machine with his size, leaping ability and sticky hands.
Stetson Bennett has improved the velocity on his passes and appeared much more comfortable checking down during the 7-on-7. Decision-making will be key, and it appears Bennett no longer is as apt to force the ball downfield.
Arik Gilbert has made some great plays and shown elite athleticism, but he’s getting called out as much as anyone with media present. Savvy fans who have followed Smart know that’s a good sign, as the head coach invests most into his favorite players. Smart knows how close Gilbert is to greatness and is pushing him over the hump.
Daijun Edwards is ready for more than a mop-up role, and it appears he will be getting the sort of quality reps he is due. Edwards has improved each season as a receiver and has proven a tackle-breaking machine.
Broderick Jones has been excellent in pass blocking but seems on the verge of taking the next step as a dominant run blocker. Jones got some extra attention from Smart over the loudspeaker on Tuesday, with the head coach telling him that he’s ready to see him lead.
Carson Beck still has the most electric arm on the team and appears confident going through his progressions. Beck’s size and athleticism give UGA a capable backup, but he still missed on a couple of throws that should be routine for a player with his talent.
Kelee Ringo is and was a hero from the CFP Championship Game and one of the most improved players in spring drills. But watching Adonai Mitchell run past Ringo to get open on a long gain Tuesday was a reminder of how teams picked on No. 5 last season.
Arian Smith has the sort of world-class speed that turns heads, but he’s still not the best version of himself. Smith, entering his third season failed to get proper pre-snap alignment on one play, drawing Todd Monken’s wrath
Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint had a curious dropped pass on Tuesday. Rosemy-Jacksaint doesn’t have the explosiveness of other UGA targets, so precise route-running and reliable hands are a must for him to get and stay on the field amid a very competitive grouping.
Andrew Paul was one of late adds, and his 3-star recruiting ranking didn’t bring the sort of hype typical of Georgia RB signees. Paul, however, has looked every bit the part in the backfield in drill work and his No. 3 will be worth watching.
“He’s the second-best walk-on safety in Georgia’s history. You figure out who the first one is.”
— Georgia co-DC and former walk-on safety Will Muschamp, asked about Dan Jackson.