ATHENS — The SEC Network broadcast team of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic has fast become one of the best in the nation, and certainly among the most authoritative and knowledgeable when it comes to the SEC.
WATCH: SEC Network analyst shares biggest takeaway from G-Day
The pregame prep for the broadcasting team entering into the Georgia G-Day Game included conversations with Kirby Smart, Todd Monken, Dan Lanning and JT Daniels, and Cubelic was on site working the sidelines throughout the action.
Here were some key takeaways from information and opinions Hart, Rodgers and Cubelic shared through their observations and conversations with the UGA coaches
Kendall Milton Eventual Go-To Back
Rodgers, a former Vanderbilt quarterback and team captain who is also known for winning season 12 of “The Bachelorette,” quickly took note of Kendall Milton after the second-year tailback scored the opening touchdown.
“I know Zamir White, James Cook, those guys get a lot of the conversation, but towards the end of last year Kendall Milton, I thought he was the best running back on the roster,” Rodgers said. “I think he’s going to be something special this year. He may not be the starter Week One against Clemson, but I believe at some point he’s going to be the go-to running back for Georgia. He’s big, he’s physical.”
Jordan Rodgers, Tom Hart and Cole Cubelic
JT Daniels’ West Coast perspective
Hart, a versatile and accomplished play-by-play man, shared an interesting conversation he had with JT Daniels when the two talked about the differences between the Pac-12 and the SEC.
“JT Daniels had some really interesting comments when he talked about coming from the Pac-12 to the SEC, he said, ‘I played in front of COVID crowds last year and those were the loudest crowds I’d ever played in,’ “ Hart said.
“(Daniels) said, ‘You’ve got to remember I came out to USC, my spring game, there were 500 people there.’ He said, ’The importance of football was not lost on me, but it was part of a culture shock. In L.A., you’ve got the Lakers, you’ve got the Dodgers, you’ve got the film industry, the music industry, there’s a lot of things to distract you.
“He goes, ‘It was amazing my first time in Athens. I went downtown and saw every restaurant, every bar, every shop with a Georgia Flag in it and red and black. That’s common throughout the SEC, saw the same thing at Missouri, but it’s not common where I come from.’ “
Rodgers added how Daniels marveled at the SEC defenders.
“(Daniels) is like ‘Look, Pac-12, mostly zone coverage,’ “ Rodgers said. “And he said, ‘I don’t think I ever saw an outside linebacker that was 6-4, 230, 240 running a 4.4. They don’t have those guys, and they have them on every single roster in the SEC.’ “
Todd Monken on SEC Defenses
It is Year Two for Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and the former NFL OC and Southern Miss head coach has noted and adjusted to the defenses.
Hart said Monken shared that SEC defenses are indeed more complex.
“(Monken) said ‘Listen, even in the NFL you get one or two looks, but with (Nick) Saban’s coaching tree and the match zone that people run … it’s a lot more complicated it seems when you try to dissect the defense,’ “ Hart relayed.
Rodgers explained how limited Monken and UGA was last season on account of the lack of spring drills.
“It was telling of Monken to say, ‘We got to the middle of the season, and we weren’t even running 30 or 40 percent of what we put in,” Rodgers said. “He started to learn coming from the NFL to college that defenses are a little different, a little more nuanced, especially in that Saban tree, so he was re-tooling things as the season went on from an offensive scheme standpoint.
“I expect it’s been a pleasant experience (for Monken) to design an offense for one quarterback.”
Jalen Carter pushing heavy Jordan Davis
Kirby Smart has made it clear Jordan Davis needs to lose weight to be at his best, and Davis has admitted as much himself after returning for what he hopes will be a national championship season.
Still, it caught Cubelic — a former Auburn offensive lineman, himself — off guard to hear how second-year defensive lineman Jalen Carter could eventually push Davis or Devonte Wyatt out of a starting spot next season.
“I was really surprised to hear Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning tell us that Jalen Carter is going to push for a starting job,” said Cubelic, who said during the broadcast he considered Davis the top interior defensive lineman in the SEC.
“That may not sound ridiculous to a lot of people, (Carter) was a high-profile recruit with a lot of talent, but Devonte Wyatt has played a lot of football in a Georgia uniform, I’m not going to go on camera right now and tell you that I think anybody is going to beat Jordan Davis out on this football team” Cubelic said.
“However, those were the name that were thrown out that (Carter is) competing for a starting spot with. That’s the kind of spring he’s had to impress these coaches.
“You put on (Carter’s) film from last year, he’s explosive, he understands how to strike and shed.”
Rodgers weighed in.
“Cole mentioned Jordan Davis and the weight issue, (he’s) such a dynamic, big body up front for that defensive line,” Rodgers said. “But Dan Lanning did mention, ‘we need him to be lighter.’ Offenses nowadays are RPO-based, they are horizontal passing game, they are uptempo. He’s got to lose a little weight to be able to play drive-in and drive out for four quarters.”
Brock Bowers Rising Star
“This is going to be a deep, talented receiver group when everyone is healthy this fall, led by Jermaine Burton, who I think is an absolute star,” Rodgers said, but …..
“Brock Bowers is a guy to keep your eye on if you are a Georgia fan, because I think there will be more “12 personnel” (two tight ends, one back) utilized next year because the strength of this offense right now is running backs and tight ends, and Bowers is a guy that will be really good.
“Todd Monken said, ‘He’s going to be a player, I don’t know when, but he’s going to be a player.’ He’s raw right now, extremely talented, can stretch the field, if he can put it all together, he’s going to be a guy that makes some waves next year as a young kid.”
Cole Cubelic and Jordan Rodgers at Sanford Stadium
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