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JT Daniels is aiming to be the Georgia quarterback.

What we would’ve been looking forward to had Georgia football played Virginia

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What we’d be talking about if Georgia had played Virginia

In an alternate universe were COVID-19 never happens, the Georgia Bulldogs would be opening their season tonight against Virginia.

The two teams would be playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and capping off the first full weekend of college football.

The game against the Cavaliers would’ve been a good opening test for the Bulldogs, as they’d better prepare the Bulldogs for their Week 3 contest against Alabama, while also not being a herculean opponent.

Instead, the Bulldogs will be continuing to practice for the start of the 2020 season, which is still weeks away. And the Bulldogs will now take on Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., as opposed to making the relatively shorter drive to Atlanta.

And because of COVID, Georgia is now short one quarterback as Jamie Newman opted out. And even though the Bulldogs have been able to conduct two scrimmages, Kirby Smart doesn’t like where his team is at.

“To be honest, I’d thought we’d be further along and make a big jump from scrimmage one to scrimmage two,” Smart said after the second scrimmage. “It was sloppy. We had a lot of penalties. We didn’t tackle really well. Didn’t play well in the red area on defense.”

So what would be the big talking points heading into a COVID-free Virginia game? We go into that below.

How would Jamie Newman have looked?

Were making two assumptions here. The first is that Newman doesn’t opt out of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The other is that he would’ve ended up winning the starting quarterback job. While there was the expectation that he would be the starter, Smart had said that none of the quarterbacks had separated themselves.

Newman and his athleticism represented a stark change from what Georgia had with Jake Fromm under center. Factor in that Todd Monken is now calling plays, and there was a real excitement about the Georgia offense.

Related: Kirby Smart adds further details on Jamie Newman’s departure

Now there are just more questions about who will even be under center more so than what the offense looks like. The likely answer is JT Daniels, but he still hasn’t been fully cleared for game action.

Who is Georgia’s football top running back?

We think we know the answer to this question after all indications are that Zamir White has had a very strong fall practice. White is looking to validate the 5-star hype he entered college with. And now that he’s another year removed from his knee injuries and there’s a clearer depth chart, it looks like the Bulldogs might have their next great ‘RBU’ talent.

White isn’t the only running back that has played well this fall, as James Cook has also played well so far. A tandem of White and Cook playing well could go a long way in answering some of the questions with the wide receivers and quarterback position.

Who are the five starters on the offensive line?

Georgia does have to replace three starters on the offensive line including two first-round draft picks in Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson.

We have a good idea of what the line will look like at this point, with Jamaree Salyer filling in at left tackle, Justin Shaffer at left guard, Trey Hill at center, Ben Cleveland at right guard and Owen Condon at right tackle.

Related: ‘Pleasant surprise’ Owen Condon competing at right tackle, moving well

Warren Ericson is also competing for playing time as a potential starter. Of the seven freshman offensive lineman Georgia signed in the 2020 class, Tate Ratledge seems to be playing the best so far, pushing Condon at the right tackle spot.

How real is the Georgia football defense?

Georgia brings back a number of contributors and key pieces from the nation’s top-scoring and rushing defense from last season. With all that talent, there’s understandably a lot of optimism.

But there are some areas the Bulldogs can still improve on, such as rushing the passer and forcing turnovers. A game against Virginia would’ve allowed them a chance to show just how legitimate they are.

The members of the 2020 defense have stressed that they haven’t accomplished anything just yet. Still, Smart is even excited about the prospects of this group this year, in part because of leaders such as Richard LeCounte, Jordan Davis and Monty Rice.

“Defensively we’ve got some really good leaders. This is a fun team to coach thus far,” Smart said. “We do things as a group. I love being around them. They’re funny.

“There’s so many guys that seem like they’re experienced and they lead in the right direction. They’re positive when things aren’t going well and they have a lot of fun on the football field.”

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