Buying or selling Georgia football issues: George Pickens makes the list
ATHENS — NCAA tournament brackets busted and SEC spring football updates certainly hit the spot moving toward the “new normal,” vaccinations increasing and the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly fading.
Georgia athletics, fueled emotionally and financially by Kirby Smart’s football program, is all revved up, too.
Football opens itself up to several discussions within itself with many of the passionate Bulldogs’ fans having a high degree of gridiron expertise and background.
All that in mind, here’s a way-too-early take on what the 2021 Georgia football team might look like, in the form of “buying” and “selling” some of the more popular concepts regularly discussed, with a couple of bonuses basketball takes thrown in:
JT Daniels: The SoCal quarterback has found his niche at Georgia, gelling with offensive coordinator Todd Monken just like he thought he would when he chose UGA over several over potential transfer destinations. Daniels is proving to be a leader on and off the field, as he and the other Georgia quarterbacks are working with the receivers on a pass game that could rank among the most polished in the nation by Sept. 4.
Conservative conspiracies: Too many people for too long have accused Kirby Smart of being too conservative on offense, when in fact, he’s all about running schemes that are designed around his team’s talents and personnel. Georgia leaned on the run in 2017 because it had three future NFL running backs, a physical offensive line and a freshman quarterback. Four years later, the receiving corps is loaded, Smart hired an Air Raid specialist and has a West Coast gunslinger for a QB. The offense will reflect that.
Adam Anderson: Plenty of eyebrows were raised and skeptics emerged when Smart revealed that Anderson, a former 5-star recruit who stands 6-foot-5 and is listed at 230 pounds, would be playing the STAR position. It’s a position that Smart explained is essentially one of the outside backers in UGA’s base, 3-4 alignment. Anderson’ pass-rushing skills are such that it makes sense from that standpoint, but Georgia is working to see how well Anderson can play in coverage. For perspective, 6-1, 210-pounder Mark Webb played STAR last season.
Now or never concept: Who decided that if Kirby Smart doesn’t win a national title at Georgia this season he never will? It’s the most ridiculous storyline of the offseason, and the national media types who are throwing it out there are outing themselves as ill-informed. Anyone who looks closely at what Smart has built will see his gains go beyond the field and into facilities and production of NFL players that will ensure future recruiting success. Yes, 2021 is a prime opportunity for Georgia. But UGA has recruited well enough that others are sure to emerge moving forward. No one in the SEC really knew who or what JT Daniels was this time a year ago.
George Pickens: Pickens is the sort of talent that cannot be stopped when he’s in sync with his quarterback, and that’s what many believe will happen at Georgia in 2021. Pickens plays the game with zest, and his excitement level is such at times that it boils over to an unacceptable extent. But as Pickens matures — it is a process — he will learn to harness those emotions and channel them into more energy for big plays and big moments on the football field.
Extending Jacksonville contract: Georgia should not play its designated SEC home games anywhere but Sanford Stadium. The current Jacksonville contract runs through 2023. It would be acceptable for the Gators to maintain their home game with Georgia in Jacksonville.
But former UGA coach Mark Richt and Georgia team captain Monty Rice have both recent said it’s not a neutral site.
The concept is outdated for numerous reasons, most notably, losing a home recruiting weekend every other year, and robbing Athens’ local economy of the millions of dollars home game weekends bring. Jacksovnille estimates a $35 million economic impact with the game annually.
Does new Georgia AD Josh Brooks feel loyalty to new Gator Bowl present and former UGA AD Greg McGarity on this issue? Brooks knows football well enough to understand why Smart pointsout the high costs of giving away the home game every other year.
Georgia spring football