ATHENS — Georgia has championship-level quarterback play, but the Bulldogs need to find or develop more explosive players in their offensive arsenal.
Reflecting back on championship offenses at Clemson, LSU and Alabama these past three years, it’s fair to wonder if Georgia can produce that same sort of juice and difference-makers?
The Bulldogs held their annual G-Day spring scrimmage on Saturday, and JT Daniels looked every bit the part of an NFL quarterback. Daniels made all the right reads and throws in passing for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns.
But it was a UGA defense that was green on the back end and remained In its base coverage throughout the game, making it easier for Daniels’ targets to make the right reads and the offense to have success.
That’s what spring scrimmages are most often for, to provide opportunities for quarterbacks to build confidence in their receivers and fans to see points put up on the scoreboard.
Coach Kirby Smart rightly expressed some concern with the offensive line and looked forward to competition at the receiver positions this fall.
RELATED: Kirby shares where Georgia must make ‘largest leap’
Smart knows what it takes to win a championship, and that’s where his program is at entering his sixth year at the helm.
Winning the SEC East Divison is an expectation for Georgia, and with the right breaks and players staying healthy, a case could be made for the Bulldogs to win the SEC Championship Game this season.
But winning a national championships takes a handful of “special” players, and UGA is still working on that part of the equation.
Smart said he was pleased with the performance of freshman receiver Adonai Mitchell, and he felt good about the catches Zamir White and James Cook made out of the backfield.
Kendall Milton, Smart said, “had some good strong runs, which he has done this spring.”
Georgia figures to get a lift from the return of Kenny McIntosh, another explosive back who led the SEC in broken tackle rate last season.
No doubt, there are plenty of candidates for the “special” category who still have time to emerge.
It was hard not to notice tight end Darnell Washington on Saturday. Washington, despite missing a good chunk of spring on account of COVID, turned in the most physically imposing play of the game.
blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”>
This is a 280 pound tight end…😳 pic.twitter.com/zitBGFo468
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) April 18, 2021
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound Washington caught a pass from Carson Beck and trucked 190-pound safety Dan Jackson en route to a 51-yard gain. Later, Washington showed off his soft hands, reeling in a 13-yard bullet pass from Beck for a touchdown.
With Daniels singing the praises of John FitzPatrick and high on freshman Brock Bowers, it’s fair to say the Bulldogs also have one of the top tight end rooms in the nation.
It might just come down to how much juice the receiving corps can recover before the start of the season with Jermaine Burton, Dominick Blaylock, Marcus Rosemy and Justin Robinson expected back this summer.
It’s also possible Georgia could dip into the transfer portal for an impact receiver, but it would need to be soon, It will take time to learn the offense, and Player X would need time to jell with Daniels this summer.
As good as the Bulldogs’ offense looked on Saturday, it’s important to note Daniels has the football IQ and arm talent to make it look even better with more weapons.
The pain of losing a special talent like George Pickens, who is out most if not all of next season with a torn ACL, can still be felt.
Bottom line, Georgia needs more speed and explosivity on the perimeter than it showed on Saturday before it can join the ranks of the great championship offenses seen at Clemson, LSU and Alabama.
Saturday was a start, but as Smart said, there’s a long way to go and it will take more perimeter speed to get there.