Examining Georgia football quarterbacks, injuries and impact players week before opener
ATHENS — It’s one of those “state of the world” moments when you realize that a football coach’s press conference is an event for the masses.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has been working busily on getting his team ready for what he hopes is a national championship run, and that means staying focused on the several tasks at hand.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ football fans are warming up (boiling over?) in anticipation of a pig-roast that will inevitably occur in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sept. 26.
But instead of wondering if or how much Smart and Georgia will put on the scoreboard against beloved former assistant coach Sam Pittman — now the Arkansas Razorbacks head coach — fans are holding their collective breath over the offense.
What will it look like? How many points can it score? And who will play where?
It’s as if everyone just gives a quick nod in the direction of what’s likely the best defense in the nation.
“Yeah, you guys are great, thanks ….. but what about this offense!!!!”
Here are three questions for Smart with the opening game closing in.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) September 14, 2020
1. Who starts at quarterback?
It’s unlikely Smart will answer this question, because all of the information is not yet in front of him and he’s an advocate of open competition every day.
Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and freshman Carson Beck have had strong fall camps, and USC transfer JT Daniels has proven a good fit for new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s Air Raid offense.
The takeaway is all three options are exciting, and how the players practice and how Daniels’ knee is evaluated will lead to Smart’s decision.
It will be interesting how Smart puts the quarterback competition into context on Tuesday afternoon.
2. Update on injuries
The most impactful injury — that we’re aware of — is Florida State graduate transfer tight end Tre’ McKitty.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound McKitty is a game-changer, the most explosive player at the position of Smart’s tenure. McKitty has the potential to be as impactful as Isaac Nauta, whose clutch catches and reliability seemed a tad underrated.
McKitty had arthroscopic knee surgery in the days following the Sept. 5 Scrimmage 2, leaving his status for the start of the season in doubt. Arthroscopic knee procedures can take 3 to 5 weeks time to heal.
UGA has other options, with redshirt freshman John FitzPatrick leading a group of inexperienced tight ends that include redshirt freshmen Ryland Goede, Brett Seither and freshman Darnell Washington
The other potential impact injury Smart has addressed is to freshman receiver Arian Smith, who some have suggested was showing out as the fastest player on the team prior to suffering a torn meniscus in mid-July.
The typical recovery window for meniscus repair is 4 to 6 weeks, and then obviously it will take Smith time to get up to speed in the offense.
Sophomore receiver Dominick Blaylock (knee) and freshman defensive back Kelee Ringo (labrum) are out for the season.
3. Newcomer standouts
Sometimes young players jump out, like freshman receiver Jermaine Burton and freshman cornerback Jalen Kimber in last Saturday’s scrimmage, or receiver George Pickens and safety Lewis Cine in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl win over Baylor.
But there are other young talents on the UGA roster that we’re due to get an update on, such as defensive lineman Jalen Carter, receiver Marcus Rosemy, linebacker MJ Sherman and offensive linemen Tate Ratledge and Sedrick Van Pran.
Some or all of these are or will be ready to be impact players at some point during what promises to be an arduous 10-game regular season.
The Georgia quarterback scramble