As Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs prepare for the annual G-Day intrasquad game next Saturday at Sanford Stadium, a lot of questions are swirling around in the minds of Dawgs fans.
Will Smart get the house packed with 93,000 fans as he has asked to impress recruits? Barring really lousy weather that day, the signs are encouraging, with quite a few UGA followers who’ve skipped the spring game in the past telling me they plan on making the trip to Athens on April 16.
My brothers and daughter and I plan on being there. What about you? I’d love to hear whether any of you who normally don’t go to the spring game have changed your minds thanks to Smart’s challenge. And if you’re not going, why not?
Another question prompted by the very high-profile campaign to “sell out” the free G-Day game: Would a full house really do that much to impress recruits (a large number of whom say they’re planning to be at the game)?
Apparently so. QB commit Jake Fromm told DawgNation that a full house at Sanford Stadium on G-Day would show “that the fan base and community are behind the new regime and players.” And William Poole, a cornerback who’s considering UGA and Florida, said that Smart getting his 93K “would let me know things are really changing for the better.”
Which raises the question: What if attendance at the game falls short of capacity? Will that hurt recruiting? Smart setting the bar that high with his challenge to the Bulldog Nation is a bit of a gamble.
On a more practical level, since a full house for G-Day would more than double the biggest crowd the spring game has drawn, it presents some unknowns for fans attending in regards not only to where they’ll end up sitting but where they’ll park and what traffic will be like. My plan is to pretty much follow my usual fall game day routine, since the place I normally park will be available, but I wonder if any of you going are planning to handle this game differently. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Beyond all the uncertainty surrounding attendance and how successful UGA will be handling its first huge G-Day crowd, there are a whole lot of questions still to be answered about the team itself.
While we may not get any of them definitively answered by what transpires on the field in Saturday’s game — it is, after all, a glorified scrimmage — fans will be anxiously watching several aspects of play for clues to what we’ll see in the fall.
The most frequently asked questions, of course, involve quarterback and whether Greyson Lambert will hold on to the starter’s job or Brice Ramsey finally will make a move, or whether true freshman Jacob Eason will challenge for the top spot. In terms of G-Day, I think most fans are wondering just how much of Eason we’ll see, and judging from what Smart said after the second spring scrimmage, that’s apparently still to be decided.
Smart, who expects the quarterback derby to go into August (“I think it has to”), said he and his staff still have to figure out how to manage the QB rotation at G-Day.
“Because obviously there’s two teams and there’s three quarterbacks, so you do the math,” the head coach said. “Do you let two guys go with the ones, do you let Jacob go with the twos? I mean, we’ve got to talk about that as a staff. We may even roll those guys so they’re not on one team. We’ve got to get the evaluation we need. That’s the most important thing. It’s not who’s with what group. It’s how many reps we can get them.”
One thing I think you can count on, though: Having invited 93,000 folks to come out for his debut, the UGA coaches will make sure the player that most folks are there to see gets a decent amount of time out on the field.
Beyond the QBs, the rest of the offense has several question marks hanging over it, including the offensive line, the receiver rotation and the running back depth behind Sony Michel (and the still rehabbing Nick Chubb). In the first scrimmage, the passing game looked good while the running game didn’t; however, the running game drew praise from Smart after the second scrimmage, though he said he wasn’t sure if it was really that improved, or if the defense (particularly tackling) was worse.
Speaking of which, judging from Smart’s recent comments after the spring scrimmages, the defense is even more uncertain. “We either have a long way to go on defense. Or we’re better than I think on offense,” Smart said after the second scrimmage.
The Dawgs will conduct two more practices this week, on Tuesday and Thursday, before Saturday’s 4 p.m. G-Day game, which will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
See you there!
Now, let’s dip into some of the recent Junkyard Mail I’ve received, starting out with another question about G-Day. …
Lebron Brock writes: Bill, I plan to be at the G-Day game and I think it would be cool and impressive to Trevor Lawrence if the fans chanted his name like they used to do Hershel Walker where one side of the stadium shouts Trevor and the other side shouts Lawrence. Would this break any NCAA rule? I suppose it would have to be led by the cheerleaders. This might make a difference in his recruiting. What do you think?
Actually, the Cartersville 5-star QB prospect hasn’t yet said for sure whether he’ll be at the G-Day game, but if he is, any chanting of his name has to be of the spontaneous nature, generated by the fans themselves. As Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton told me, such a spontaneous demonstration would not be a problem, but it “cannot be instigated by anyone at UGA. Cheerleaders cannot be a part of it.” So, Lebron, it looks like it’s up to you!
Joseph in Kennesaw writes: Hey Bill, Hope all is well! Along with spring practice occurring this time of year, it’s also renewal time for our football season tickets. With all of the offseason changes over the last few months, do you see the demand for tickets rising or falling? Last year’s Hartman Fund cutoff score for new season tickets was higher than usual due to the Bama game. Do you think the Kirby effect will increase the demand even higher? Looking forward to September 3rd already!
While I’m not sure whether the coaching change and arrival of Eason on campus have generated an increase in Bulldog Club giving to the football program, I would think it likely would at least keep pace with last year. Optimism about the program seems pretty high in general, and that usually results in more money being donated by the season ticket holders.
Chan Caudell writes: Could you please provide insight in to how Charlie Woerner is being used this spring?
Four-star signee Woerner is still in high school and won’t be joining the Dawgs until this summer. Once he gets to Athens, though, it’s apparently still undecided whether he’ll join the rather crowded tight end squad or will be one of the receivers battling for time behind Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie. If he remains a tight end, he’ll have to compete for playing time with starter Jeb Blazevich, returnees Jackson Harris and Jordan Davis, and five-star signee Isaac Nauta, an early enrollee. After signing day, Smart said of Woerner: “He’s a talented kid. What exactly is he? He’s a utility player that can do a lot of things.”
Sounds like a guy who’ll find a way to get on the field.
Got something you want to discuss or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.
— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
Bill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.