3 things from Georgia football Scrimmage 2: Amoeba-like offense jells, line taking shape

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) and Georgia running back Kendall Milton (2) during the Bulldogs’ practice scrimmage session in Athens, Ga., on Sat., Aug. 21, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

Kirby Smart said Georgia football got better and got healthier in its second and final scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday afternoon, leaving the Bulldogs’ sixth-year head coach in a decidedly upbeat mood.

“I expect to be full tilt when Clemson comes, when it comes time to play them,” Smart said on his Saturday afternoon Zoom press conference.

“We had more guys today than we did at the last scrimmage, we are in a good position.”

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs open against No. 3-ranked Clemson at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The Tigers wrapped up their live fall camp hitting with their second scrimmage last Thursday. Coach Dabo Swinney, like Smart, was optimistic about his team’s preparations.

WATCH: Dabo says DJ Uiagalelei at his best in Clemson Scrimmage 2

Here are three key takeaways from Smart’s comments on Saturday:

Offense wins

Georgia’s offense won the day, with JT Daniels completing passes at all three levels and finding his rhythm after a rough first scrimmage last week.

It surely helped that Jermaine Burton and Kearis Jackson, two of the primary targets were back on the field. Also, freshman Brock Bowers continues to progress in his H-Back/Tight end role.

“JT has, for the most part, had good rhythm with the guys,” Smart said. “You can make excuses all the time, but people get injured in football. You go play with the guys that are out there. They got to throw all summer, so all the guys were out there all summer.”

The offense also had fresher legs, which contributed to more explosive plays from receivers, tight ends and running backs.

The flip side is the head coach said the team didn’t tackle as well, which is the give-and-take of one side performing better than the other.

Offense line settling

Smart indicated Justin Shaffer and Tate Ratledge are the primary guards, as expected, and that Georgia has a good idea who it will start against the Tigers’ ferocious defensive front.

“We have really settled in with the five that have been getting reps with the ones, we just rotate to get depth,” Smart explained. “There is still good competition at tackle, there is good competition going on at center.”

Jamaree Salyer is the likely starter at left tackle if second-year player Sedrick Van Pran continues to handle the center duties in place of injured incumbent Warren Ericson.

Warren McClendon, a 2020 FWAA Freshman All-American is first in line at right tackle, with Smart’s comment about competition a nod to the pushes from Xavier Truss, Broderick Jones and Amarius Mims.

“I feel good about our depth within our offensive line, we still have time to determine who the starting five will be in terms of the tackles,” Smart said. “It is not like not like we are out there doing musical chairs.”

There’s a chance Salyer could slide back inside to offensive guard if one of those younger offensive tackles emerges.

Offensive Evolution

Smart didn’t come right out and say it, but he’s keeping his foot on the gas as far as how aggressive the Bulldogs plan to be with their offense.

But because of the nature of Todd Monken’s Pro Style Spread attack, which features Air Raid principles and the versatility for Daniels to call plays at the line, it remains somewhat of an amoeba.

“Some of (identity) is dictated by who the defense is,” Smart explained. “Every defense we play will be different. There will be three-down fronts, four-down fronts, (and) there will be big and small, with experience in his level or that level.

“We want to take advantage of what they give us.”

Georgia also wants to take advantage of the strengths and skillsets of the top personnel it can put on the field.

Injuries to tight ends Darnell Washington and John FitzPatrick — which Smart did not address specifically, instead using his catch-all “day-to-day” phrase, could eliminate some packages if neither can play.

RELATED: Unofficial Georgia football injury rundown

Smart indicated the coaches will be sorting through the first two scrimmages and begin work on a more specific game plan for Clemson.

“We’re trying to figure out who the best football players are, and that has been our intent in the two scrimmages,” Smart said.

“Now, it will become a little more scheme because we need to figure out exactly what each guy can do and what he does well and who we want to become.”

RELATED: 5 things Kirby Smart needed to see out of Saturday Scrimmage 2, and why

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