Georgia football practice report: Pre-scrimmage look reflects amped-up competition

George Pickens-Demetris Robertson-Georgia football
Georgia freshman receiver George Pickens was the center of attention for hundreds of UGA fans that were at Sanford Stadium for Saturday's closed scrimmage.

ATHENS — Georgia football was at Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon for its first closed scrimmage of the fall with hundreds of donors, support personnel and children looking on.

The Bulldogs’ pass game was expected to be put to the test, with third-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm working with a newer, more inexperienced corps after losing the top five pass catchers and four receivers from a season ago.

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Incoming Tennessee tight end transfer Eli Wolf was dressed out and appeared ready to go after missing Thursday’s practice on account of an injury.

Wolf, who James Coley pointed out was a receiver in high school, is competing with John FitzPatrick for the tight end spot opposite Charlie Woerner.

The running backs received plenty of attention as well, much of the focus on 2018 No. 1 running back signee Zamir White as he continues his comeback from a torn ACL suffered in fall camp last year.

White has not been wearing a knee brace in fall drills, and he did not have one on Saturday, either, even when many expect he will see his first contact.

White will be looking to take carries away from rising senior Brian Herrien, who is running second team behind starter D’Andre Swift.

Reserve linebacker Nate McBride, a fan favorite in the linebacker rotation, was at the scrimmage but not in uniform. McBride also missed Thursday’s practice.

Coach Kirby Smart showed a great deal of enthusiasm for returning inside linebackers Monty Rice and Tae Crowder during an exclusive interview set up for ESPN earlier this week.

“The two linebackers played for the first time last year a lot, Monty, Tae, and a couple of other guys,” Smart told ESPN. “So now the communication is happening everywhere more often, and we’ve got a lot more connection when it comes to that.

“It was a tough year last year because we had a ton of guys to replace from the prior year.”

Indeed, a second-half collapse on defense against Alabama cost the Bulldogs a return trip to the College Football Playoff.

This year’s group has been determined and certainly wore a look of focus on Saturday.

Rice and Crowder are expected to start and it appears Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall are working behind them. Other inside linebackers in the mix included Quay Walker, Rian Davis and Trezman Marshall.

The outside linebackers position continues to be stacked, the group of Azeez Ojulari, Jermaine Johnson, Nolan Smith and Walter Grant not missing a beat with the departure of Brenton Cox.

Receiver Trey Blount leaped high to catch a Stetson Bennett pass over D.J Daniel as media were escorted out of the stadium.

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