UPDATE: A UGA spokesman said rising senior inside linebacker Natrez Patrick was, in fact, participating in Saturday’s practice and scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. Patrick was not spotted by reporters during an eight-minute viewing period.
ATHENS — A warm and absolutely gorgeous day greeted the Georgia Bulldogs on the occasion of their first visit to Sanford Stadium on Saturday in 2018. So did a new scoreboard.
Construction was continuing on the west end project even as the Bulldogs practiced. The new scoreboard, which is 30 percent larger and was moved 30 feet to the north, was operating and showing the team down and distance. The Bulldogs haven’t been able to practice in the stadium since the end of the 2017 season because of ongoing construction on the $62 million project. Cranes and other construction equipment was removed just last week from the field side of the West stands .
When the teams shifted to 11-on-11 work at the end of the viewing period, junior Tae Crowder lined up middle inside linebacker — or “Mike” — with the No. 1 defense. That position is normally fielded by senior Natrez Patrick.
Patrick has been reinstated to the team for the 2018 season after missing six games last season because of substance-abuse suspensions. He entered treatment after an arrest following the SEC Championship Game and missed both of Georgia’s College Football Playoff appearances.
Coach Kirby Smart has never said whether the disciplinary issues that sidelined Patrick in 2017 will carry over into this season. He is expected to be the starting “Mike,” or middle, inside linebacker this coming season.
This was the Bulldogs’ last competitive scrimmage before next the G-Day Game next Saturday (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET). They’ll hold two more practices this coming week.
Some other observations from Period 2 of the workout:
- The quarterbacks looked sharp during the brief viewing period. It did not appear that even one ball touched the ground delivered by Jake Fromm, Justin Fields or Stetson Bennett during pass-skeleton drills. The quarterbacks took turns in that order, with Sam Vaughn and John Seter also getting reps.
- Sam Pittman and Jim Chaney appeared to be taking particular enjoyment in the full-pads, full-contact opportunity. Chaney, working with the tight ends and tackles on a blocking drill, praised his group for the sound of “leather popping” as they warmed up in the west end zone before the scrimmage.
- D’Andre Swift was on the side with Zamir White, so evidently Swift is not participating in the scrimmage.
- Justin Young was back was back with the defensive line. Michael Barnett was not back.
- On the D-line, it looked like Daquan Hawkins-Muckle going first team at nose guard, at least based on the line order in drills. Julian Rochester and Jonathan Ledbetter also were going first team. The second group was Tyler Clark, Devonte Wyatt and David Marshall.
- The O-line appeared to be the same, but Kendall Baker also was working some beside Solomon Kindley, an indication Baker was still getting some first-team work at left tackle.