ATHENS — A rough Georgia fall camp is about to get even tougher for Kirby Smart and his coaches, as they sort through personnel to determine who “makes the bus” to Vanderbilt.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs open the season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, in Nashville.
Georgia can suit up 70 players for the game against the Commodores.
Smart indicated he’s nowhere near ready to complete the list.
“We’re going to have some tough decisions to make, we’re not going to make them right now,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ second scrimmage of fall camp last Saturday. “We’ve got two weeks to finalize those choices and decisions.”
Smart indicated freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis has yet to be cleared for contact, so preferred walk-on QB Nathan Priestly will be the third quarterback on the travel roster behind Jake Fromm and Stetson Bennett.
Georgia could dress six running backs at Vanderbilt after Kenny McIntosh’s impressive second scrimmage.
“We don’t know how many backs travel …. if they can help on special teams, they’ll be out there,” Smart said. “We’ve traveled as few as four, as many as seven. Prather (Hudson) makes that number vary because he’s a really good special teams player. So those decisions we’ve got to make are going to be tough.
“Somebody like McIntosh is a key to that decision, because his value right now is going to be special teams, initially.”
The Bulldogs typically brought 10 receivers on road trips last season, but Smart pointed out how accomplished many of the departing receivers were on special teams.
“When you start talking about (true freshmen) George Pickens, Dom Blaylock, those guys haven’t seen the light,” Smart said. “Their high school special teams was, ‘I was catching the ball and running with it, I wasn’t blocking anybody, I wasn’t covering anybody.’
“They have to become those players and be dominant in those roles, that’s something that we’re still working on.”
Smart pointed out the number of talented linebackers the team has added, an indication the receiving group for road games could shrink a bit depending on how special teams auditions play out.
“The last five to get on the bus,” Smart said “are going to be dominant special teams players.”