Gimme5: Big changes on tap for Georgia football, QB position at center stage

This week's Gimme5 looks into the future of Georgia football and how the team might change after the 2022 season.
Dawg

Welcome to Gimme 5, a weekly Q&A where one member of the DawgNation team answers your questions about the Georgia football program. To ask questions, simply check out the DawgNation forum and your questions could be featured in a future edition of Gimme 5.

ATLANTA — Publicly, Kirby Smart isn’t looking outside or past today’s SEC Championship Game against LSU.

But the Georgia head coach did not build his No. 1-ranked Bulldogs’ program into a dynamo without expert roster management and thorough planning.

Smart politely side-stepped questions during a Thursday press conference about how UGA will handle the pending roster transactions (players planning to come to or leave the program via the transfer portal) to minimize potential distractions of what is now a commonplace occurrence on almost every roster.

“That’s not really a conversation piece for us right now,” Smart said. “We have a process in our organization, we have different divisions. Everybody has a timeline for what they’re working on.

“We have player development staff, recruiting. We have all these facets within our organization that work their parts year-round.”

There are expected to be between 8 and 13 Georgia football players entering the portal when the 45-day transfer window opens on Monday.

This, in addition to a handful of UGA underclassmen declaring themselves eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft will create needs for Smart and his staff to answer with incoming transfers as well as recruits.

It has been well-documented the 2022 current Georgia team didn’t add any transfers during this past offseason -- defensive back Tykee Smith transferred from West Virginia before the 2021 season -- but Smart has acknowledged it was not for lack of effort.

The Bulldogs pursued former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams — who they recruited out of high school — before he ultimately followed Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley to USC.

Georgia also has a handful of NFL prospects with remaining eligibility —most on account of the “free” Covid year — who could declare for the draft:

• DT Jalen Carter

• OLB Nolan Smith

• RB Kenny McIntosh

• CB Kelee Ringo

• FS Chris Smith

• WR Kearis Jackson

• OT Broderick Jones

• OT Warren McClendon

• OC Sedrick Van Pran

Additionally, sixth-year senior starters Stetson Bennett and Robert Beal will be moving on.

There are still other players who have started and/or contributed that might opt to finish their careers elsewhere or retire with rising young talent on the roster.

All of this funnels into the first reader question in this week’s Gimme5 feature:

1. What needs, if any, could Georgia get out of the transfer portal?

— Dawgwired

MG: Roughly half of the 131 FBS teams started a transfer at quarterback this past season. It is not yet known if Georgia will have any attrition in the QB room beyond Bennett.

Smart has said he feels good about his QB room, but in three of the past four seasons, he has pursued a quarterback transfer. Georgia would likely not sign a transfer unless it believed that person could win the position over the returning talent.

Carson Beck (15) has looked good at times, but with limited experience, he may face outside competition for the Georgia starting job, especially in light of the fact UGA pursued Caleb Williams in the portal last season Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)
Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com, AJC Freelancer

UGA would seem to be in the market for a proven receiver. Georgia has seemingly been hit by key injuries each season at the receiver position, and 2022 was no different with A.D. Mitchell sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Junior Dominick Blaylock has battled through two knee injuries, leaving his status worth monitoring closely.

The Bulldogs lose a key piece in the secondary with Christopher Smith moving on and will be looking to shore up the competition and depth at the position with David Daniel-Sisavanh, freshman JaCorey Thomas and current commit and projected early signee Joenel Aguero.

2. Why have passing attempts dropped off by almost half the last two games? Is Stetson Bennett injured?

— PGJackson

MG: There have been times Bennett has appeared to lack the polish and accuracy he showed earlier in the season while still in the thick of Heisman Trophy conversation, but there have not been any reports of him aggravating the shoulder injury that affected him in October.

Still, it’s fair to speculate on whether Bennett is 100 percent at this stage of the season, along with taking weather and game conditions into consideration.

Weather played a role in two of the past four games, with a downpour during the Tennessee game leading UGA to run the football 21 of 25 second-half plays.

The next week, Bennett threw two interceptions in frigid conditions during a Mississippi State game that saw him go 25-of-37 passing for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The next week, amid high winds at Kentucky, UGA opted to protect a double-digit lead by running the ball on 16 of the final 17 plays of the game.

Most conspicuously, Bennett attempted only 18 passes in the 37-14 win over Georgia Tech — completing 10 of them — as Smart played it safe with 41 run plays against what had been an opportunistic Yellow Jackets’ team.

3. Should Heisman Trophy voting be moved back until after the CFP? (It currently is voted on after the league championship games).

— Hemingway

MG: There was a time bowl statistics were not officially counted by the NCAA (and still are not in the historical annals, or Herschel Walker’s official football resume would look even more impressive).

The Heisman Trophy has a nine-member committee — the “Heisman Trust” — to discuss such things, and for now it prefers to stick to the tradition of awarding it after the conference championship games and before the bowl season gets underway.

4. With Hugh Freeze now at Auburn, should (Georgia) be concerned with them poaching any members of the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, and if so, who?

DawgBones

MG: “Concern” may not be the right word, but Smart has an awareness that Georgia’s great success creates opportunities for advancement for his staff members. Running backs coach Dell McGee and offensive line coach Stacy Searels are Auburn graduates.

Auburn has fired former Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend while retaining Carnell “Cadillac” Williams to coach running backs. McGee, however, was actually a defensive back while playing with the Tigers, a member of Terry Bowden’s 11-0 team in 1993.

5. Do you think Georgia should keep the home-and-home with Georgia Tech?

— Bum

With the SEC on the verge of going to a nine-game league schedule and Smart seeking out home-and-home series with major Power 5 competition — UCLA in 2025-2026, Florida State 2027-2028 — it’s a fair question.

Georgia Tech appears suddenly more worthy with Brent Key showing he could make the Yellow Jackets instantaneously competitive this year, but there is some question as to the value of playing a non-conference rival the week before the SEC Championship Game — as opposed to another league opponent.

Tradition still carries more weight in college football than other sports, but a more practical option would be to play a rotation of the in-state FBS schools (Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Savannah State) closer to the start of the season in Sanford Stadium.

UGA News

NextWhat USC loss means for 2022 College Football Playoff picture
Leave a Comment