ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and his staff have a checklist of sorts.
Each day, the coaches comb through the details and consider how best to utilize a championship caliber roster.
Smart has said it’s a puzzle of sorts. Each season brings about new challenges, the dynamics changing in each position group and meeting room as the personnel turns over.
The Bulldogs are less than three weeks away from their season-opening game at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Sanford Stadium against FCS Austin Peay.
It’s the sort of warm-up game that will enable Georgia to polish up for the showdown at South Carolina the following week.
There are still several questions that must be answered before the season-opening game, however, and the week of practice leading up to the second scrimmage is pivotal.
Here are three questions for Smart and his staff to get answered this week:
It was clear Smart is excited about the addition of Demetris Robertson on Saturday, a sign the Cal transfer fits into Jim Chaney’s plan on offense.
But what is the plan, the ideal run-pass ratio, the staple plays? Who is the go-to receiver? What are the running backs’ roles, and how many will play? The tight ends could potentially bring another dimension to the offense, but at what expense?
The coaches have a direction to head after the opening scrimmage, but they’ll have a much clearer picture after the next scrimmage on Saturday.
Front seven package
Both Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker identified the interior defensive line as a soft spot and have stated players need to step up.
There’s a good chance Georgia’s level of play will fall off in the front seven on account of attrition.
Most notably, the Bulldogs have yet to measure up at the nose guard position vacated by John Atkins, nor the inside linebacker position formerly held by SEC Defensive Player of the Year Roquan Smith.
Tucker and Smart must determine how deep of a defensive line rotation is realistic. It could mean playing some players who aren’t entirely ready in the interest of maintaining health for what has the potential to be another 15-game season.
It has also become apparent that Georgia’s wealth of talent at linebacker — inexperienced as some of it is — will provide the Bulldogs an opportunity to match up more effectively against the variety of personnel packages they’ll face.
Yes, Jake Fromm will start the opener and be a team leader — even if Georgia has curiously prevented him from representing the team in media interviews.
Smart likely is keeping “the main thing the main thing,” and that means maintaining an open and balanced competition through fall drills.
Justin Fields has the talent to warrant that, and Fromm is secure and mature enough to handle the situation.
Besides, the last thing Georgia needs is for a quarterback to be talking about having his feelings hurt and dividing the locker room.
Chaney and Smart will continue to hammer out a plan that puts the team in the best position to win — though what that means is open for debate.
It’s a long season, and history would suggest the Bulldogs need to have two capable quarterbacks to make a run for the championship.
The quarterback plan will likely be fluid, from week to week, but the coaches should identify Fromm the opening game starter by the end of the week and develop the plan from there.
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