ATHENS — This is a sentence you’ve heard plenty of times before: Georgia is deep at tight end. On a team with depth issues seemingly everywhere else, new head coach Kirby Smart isn’t trying to pretend that’s the case at this spot.
There’s Jeb Blazevich, who has started most of the past two years. There’a five-star recruit, Isaac Nauta. There’s a rising sophomore, Jackson Harris, who showed promise last year. And there’s Jordan Davis, a reserve his first three years, suddenly getting some first- and second-team snaps in practice.
Now the question is how Georgia will use them.
Seemingly every time he gets a chance, Smart says his Alabama defenses were bedeviled by Jim Chaney’s use of the tight ends at Arkansas and Tennessee. It was one of the reasons Smart hired Chaney. A couple years ago it wasn’t just Arkansas starter Hunter Henry but backup A.J. Derby who burned Alabama, Smart pointed out on Saturday.
“He uses those guys,” Smart said. “He flexes them out. He uses them to chip and help offensive tackles. He’s really creative the way he uses the tight ends.”
Now Chaney inherits a lot of talent, which will be on display a week from Saturday at G-Day. And this summer another joins them, four-star recruit Charlie Woerner, who Smart indicated again on Saturday could be a receiver or a tight end.
“So we’re gonna have a really talented group out there that we can use a lot of ways and trick defenses and try to help ourselves,” Smart said.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean just catching the ball.
One of the new facets of Georgia’s practices this year is the tight ends and offensive linemen working together some drills. It’s a subtle, but potentially important, indicator.
And it’s in that department that the current tight ends still have some work to do, according to Smart.
“I’m pleased with where they are catching the ball. I’m not pleased with where they are blocking,” Smart said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “They’ve got to be more physical at the line of attack, and they’ve got to try to help us open the run game. Because if they get movement it’s easy to run the ball behind them.”
Harris, who caught four passes last year, was one of three players brought up to meet the media last week. That’s a good indication of his standing with the new staff, and a reminder not to focus solely on the returning starter (Blazevich) or the hotshot recruit (Nauta.)
Harris was asked how different the new offense is.
“It’s kind of hard to say, honestly, it’s just two different schemes,” he said. “But all I know this year is coach Chaney brings a lot of energy. I like what he’s doing, and he’s definitely a great coach.”
What about his system is different from the old one?
“I keep saying energy, but that’s what it is,” he said. He brings energy to it. Everything we’re doing we’re attacking it,” Harris said. “We’re running up to the line, we’re doing everything we can in up-tempo. So it’s a very fast offense. That’s what we want to be, is a very fast, explosive offense, that has a good, dominant run game. So that’s what we’re working towards.”
G-Day, Georgia’s annual spring football scrimmage, is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Sanford Stadium. Check back here daily for DawgNation’s G-Day coverage brought to you by Georgia United Credit Union.