ATHENS, Ga. — It was just one Georgia football practice, but the coaches and players knew it was wide open, and thus everyone was wanting to be at their best.
If the Bulldogs intent was to have the appearance of a championship team, the mission was accomplished at Sanford Stadium.
Field temperatures approached 100 degrees in the sun, but Georgia players operated at full speed for two hours without so much as a stumble.
The Bulldogs’ conditioning won’t be an issue, and it appears depth won’t either.
There appeared to be little drop off from first team to second team on offense or defense, though the coaches will surely find plenty to critique in their expert film review session.
Here are three quick takes from Georgia football Fan Day open scrimmage
1. Quarterback duo amazing
Georgia football fans know it, the coaches know it, and opponents are likely bracing themselves for an impossible week of preparation.
Proven sophomore Jake Fromm looks as sharp as ever with his throws and drops, his timing and fundamentals in midseason form.
Gifted freshman Justin Fields is a natural, his deep spirals as fluid and effortless as those thrown on Sundays in the NFL, his touch passes deliberate and well-practiced.
No wonder Jim Chaney says you can’t rule anything out at the position this season.
2. Target practice
Georgia’s running backs could be as dangerous catching the football as the Bulldogs’ receivers.
It’s natural for teams to involve backs in the pass scheme. It appeared in Saturday’s practice that the Bulldogs have more than their fair share of plays with the backs as the primary targets.
There are likely a couple of reasons for that, not the least of which is that great offensive minds like Jim Chaney design offenses to make the best use of the talent.
Georgia might lack a proven bellcow back that can wear down defenses in Alabama run game fashion, but the Bulldogs still have some dangerous players.
Incoming freshman James Cook clearly has the juice to make an impact, while D’Andre Swift has already proven himself a capable receiver with 17 catches in a reserve role last season.
Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield combined for just three catches last season, but that might change with the Bulldogs spreading the ball this season. Both backs looked good Saturday.
It will be interesting to see the role Zamir White plays once he’s at full speed.
Coach Kirby Smart said Friday White is cleared, and he practiced on Saturday, but White didn’t appear to be at his optimal level. That’s only natural for explosive players like White who are wearing knee braces after coming off knee injuries.
3. Linebacker competition
Georgia has a lot of impressive athletes to throw at the inside linebacker position, and that was on display on Saturday.
Junior Natrez Patrick could emerge as one of the bigger stories of fall camp. He has apparently worked his way out of the doghouse and into competition for a starting job.
Coaches don’t typically give first-team repetitions to players who they expect to be suspended for miss games.
Smart is playing it close to the vest with Patrick, perhaps keeping him on a short leash with his history of disciplinary issues.
But if the talented 6-foot-3, 234-pound Patrick can get himself right, it will provide a major boost to Georgia’s defense and Patrick’s standing with NFL scouts.
Redshirt junior Tae Crowder appeared in 15 games and had seven tackles last season, but the guess here is that he’ll total seven tackles in the first two games. A converted running back, the light may have gone on for Crowder as he worked with the first team on Saturday.
Of course sophomore Monty Rice and Juwan Taylor remain in the mix inside, but the competition will be fierce.
It’s also worth nothing how impressive incoming freshmen Quay Walker (6-4, 240) and Brenton Cox (6-4, 245) looked working at inside and outside backer positions, respectively.
There’s a lot more to playing linebacker than looking good in a non-contact practice, of course, but Saturday produced some positive signs.
Mike Griffith was named FWAA Beat Writer of the Year in January and covers Georgia football for DawgNation, on Twitter @MikeGriffith32
Georgia Football Twitter
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) August 5, 2018
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) August 4, 2018