ATHENS — Georgia football Scrimmage Two provided more insight for the coaches and much-needed experience for the players.
The Bulldogs are a preseason Top 5 pick for most, but there’s still plenty of reloading necessary with as many as 10 UGA players expected to be selected in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.
RELATED: Scrimmage One stock report, young WRs rising
Coach Kirby Smart didn’t have any grand takeaway from Saturday’s scrimmage, but he was pleased with the effort and enthusiasm and the opportunity to get some wet weather and wet ball work.
Starting QB JT Daniels was relatively limited during the outside work, with Smart and his staff giving a longer look to the twos and three in this workout.
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Here’s a stock report on some players, and positions, coming out of the closed scrimmage based on observation from some of the select individuals Smart and his staff allow inside Sanford Stadium:
Quarterback Carson Beck: Beck continues to look fluid in his second year in the program, making accurate throws and mot missing a step when carrying out his play fakes. Beck’s 38-yard TD pass to receiver Arian Smith was among the “buzz” plays spectators couldn’t wait to share.
Quarterback Brock Vandagriff: The hype surrounding Vandagriff was apparently warranted, as the true freshman plays with unmistakable athleticism and has the cannon arm that was advertised. It seems it’s just a matter of Vandagriff learning the playbook.
Safety Christopher Smith: Smith could be the surprise star of the defense this season at this rate, showing in Scrimmage Two that he knows how to use the power and strength he’s been adding in the weight room with a big hit on freshman tight end Brock Bowers.
Tight end Brock Bowers: Sure, Bowers got blown up on a play. But the fact this early enrollee freshman is getting reps with the ones and turning heads says everything about his upside. It’s a good time to be a talented pass catcher on the UGA roster.
Connor Tate: Talk about a big Georgia hitter! OK, so maybe we’re sneaking a baseball player into a football story, but the football guys won’t mind. After all, the Diamond Dawgs may have provided a preview of the sort of payback Vanderbilt is in for after skipping out on the football team last season. Tate was 7-for-12 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI against the top pitching staff in the nation, as UGA won 14-2 on Thursday and 9-1 on Saturday to win the series.
Tailback Kendall Milton: Most knew Milton was pretty good, but for the second scrimmage in a row he appeared to be the best back on the team, head and shoulders above others between the tackles. Milton is going to make it hard on coaches to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Offensive tackle Xavier Truss: The fact that Kirby Smart said he’s “pleased” with where Truss is headed says a mouthful. The battle is far from settled, Smart made that clear, too, but Truss is obviously taking to Matt Luke’s coaching and checking the boxes in practice.
Defensive line: Word of the day from the spectators is that the defensive front dominated. It wasn’t too long ago that the defensive line was the biggest question in the program. Now, D-Line coach Tray Scott is an unsung hero and Georgia is landing some of the best in the nation.
Walk-0n DB Dan Jackson: Not much is known about Jackson, but Smart made it clear he has taken note.
“He got into Georgia on his own, he’s a great student – just to do that is pretty incredible,” Smart said. “He’s smart. He tested well. He runs fast. A lot of people assume if you’re a walk-on you can’t run, but he’s fast. He’s smart. He’s getting better every rep. It’s so important to him, you know, it matters to Dan.”
Linebacker Rian Davis: Smart has no problem with the UGA player once nicknamed “trouble, and he said so after the scrimmage.
“I’ve been very pleased with Rian’s growth,” Smart said. “His attitude, demeanor, understanding of the defense, and toughness have improved.”
So much so Smart indicated Davis might be on the verge of emerging as a fourth inside linebacker in the rotation.
Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt: It was a big deal when Wyatt announced he was returning for his senior year — bigger than most Georgia fans probably realized. Wyatt is showing why in the offseason, and fans can expect more next season at this rate.
Offensive guard Tate Ratledge: It sounds like Ratledge is elbowing his way into the offensive line rotation. Every line coach likes to go deep if he can afford to, meaning if there’s not significant drop-off.
“He’s growing up, he needed lots of reps, and he’s getting lot of reps,” Smart said. “We think he’s powerful, intelligent, still inexperienced.
“He’s a guy that needs 1,000 reps and we’re trying to get him 1,000 reps as fast as we can. He’s embraced it and worked really hard.”
Closed scrimmages. C’mon now, Tennessee, South Carolina and Arkansas are among SEC teams holding open scrimmages. Why not Georgia? If parents of players and boosters are allowed into Sanford Stadium — heck, even Justin Fields gets to come in and watch — there’s obviously nothing too secretive going on. The idea of keeping scrimmages closed is outdated in an era where fans are being asked to stand behind programs amid limited attendance policies and elite games being kept from Sanford Stadium and played in neutral sites or rivals’ home states.
When Ladd McConkey signed on at Georgia coaches knew it might take a while for him to develop, but Smart recognized his character and commitment to football and gave him an opportunity.
SENTELL’s INTEL: Background story on Ladd McConkey
McConkey is getting in sync with Vandagriff, and it’s a good bet the two will continue to grow. Clemson had undersized Hunter Renfrow grow into a star, and McConkey carries that same sort of vibe. It may be later than sooner, but stay tuned on McConkey.
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