ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and his staff will get their most telling evaluation period of the preseason in Saturday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs’ are approaching the 2020 campaign with a championship mindset, well aware their team has the talent to finally win it all if they maximize talents and the breaks go their way.
But there are still many questions to be answered, most on offense, if Georgia is to win the SEC Championship and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken made it clear that it still comes down to playmakers, and the Bulldogs well get a chance to identify theirs in the scrimmage.
Obviously, the quarterback battle is also paramount, and that’s where my 3 keys to Saturday scrimmage begins.
Monken said the most important quarterback attribute at this time is accuracy, followed by mental toughness and athleticism.
Saturday’s scrimmage gives Monken and Smart a chance to see where the four quarterbacks are truly at in game-like instances of 11-on-11, full-speed football.
Which quarterback can recognize coverages, blitzes and fronts, and check and audible accordingly? Which QB gets through the reads, when the first and second receiver is covered, as they will be against UGA’s elite defense.
Finally, who does what under fire? Throws the ball away, forces the pass into heavy coverage or elevates and make great plays?
There’s no other way to say it, Georgia’s receivers last season were a disappointment. Kirby Smart said as much after the SEC Championship Game, a contest that saw Dominick Blaylock and Kearis Jackson injured in the first half, George Pickens suspended for the first half, and Lawrence Cager sidelined by injury.
“When we had really good wideouts, we were more explosive,” Smart said, “and right now, I don’t [think] that we have that.”
That was then, so what about now?
All eyes will be on freshman Jermaine Burton to see if he can be the complimentary piece to George Pickens.
Tight end Tre’ McKitty could muscle his way up into the pecking order on progressions, and freshman TE Darnell Washington has the size and athleticism to star, as well.
Is James Cook a true tailback, or is he more of a flex that will line up as a receiver?
Whatever his label, Cook could prove the most explosive open-field threat and Monken will find a way to get him the ball if that’s the case.
The battle for the single-back duties comes down to versatility: Who can pick-up blitzes, run good routes, catch the ball consistent AND run the ball between the tackles?
It’s a lot to ask in this offense, but there are a lot of benefits, as whoever wins the job will essentially be auditioning for how current NFL backs play the game.
Georgia football preseason