Georgia football practice observations: Bulldogs beating heat, work on tackling

Georgia football-UGA-Kirby Smart
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has been pushing his Bulldogs through the heat, shown here in this UGA Sports file photo.

ATHENS — Kirby Smart had his team under the sun Monday afternoon, the heat index more than 100 degrees as Georgia opened its preparation for Arkansas State.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs wore helmets shoulder pads and shorts, Smart drilling inspirational commands over the practice field speakers with a 101 heat index, per local weather reports.

Smart said last Thursday the hot weather work has been by design, with UGA’s first two home games in mind.

“We couldn’t have had hotter, as far as August practice sessions,” Smart said on his radio show last week. “We probably went inside less than we ever have because I thought it was going to be important thinking one of these two games would be in the heat.”

Georgia’s defensive backs were working on tackling drills with scout team running backs on Monday, secondary coach Charlton Warren demonstrating and demanding proper tackling form in the early goings of practice.

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Cornerback DJ Daniel, who was held out of the 63-17 win over Murray State last Saturday, was back working with his teammates. Daniel showed no ill effects of the hamstring injury he suffered last week.

Receiver Kearis Jackson, who suffered a broken hand in the season-opening win over Vanderbilt, was back on the practice field with his left hand wrapped in a club. It appeared challenging for Jackson to catch the football, as one might expect, but being on the field enabled him to maintain his timing and feel for the new offense.

Georgia football receiver Kearis Jackson was back at practice with his hand wrapped. Connor Riley /DawgNation

Smart said at the time of Jackson’s injury he would likely be out 3 to 4 weeks.

Offensive tackle Isiah Wilson was not back at practice, still sidelined after suffering a sprained ankle in last Wednesday night’s practice.

Sophomore Cade Mays was working first team at right tackle with Ben Cleveland assuming the right guard position.

Jamaree Salyer, who started at right tackle against Murray State, was working backup at right tackle.

Sophomore Adam Anderson, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound former 5-star prospect, continued to work at inside linebacker.

The Bulldogs array of outside linebackers is impressive, with Azeez Ojulari and JUCO transfer Jermaine Johnson starting against Murray State. Nolan Smith, the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2019 class, came off the bench.

Georgia has typically gone with a 3-3-5 personnel look, but Smart explained things were done different against Murray State with intent.

“The reason he started …  is what personnel they were in, we had a package that we’re gonna play against certain teams,” Smart said after the game. “They were in four-wides. We wanted more speed on the field, so we had two outside backers on the field instead of big D-Ends.

“We were just trying to go a little more athletic and more light. So he fit the mold for that. We knew we were gonna roll a lot of guys. So that’s just a small package we had.”

Georgia kicks off against Arkansas State at noon on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

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