ATHENS — Demetris Robertson and Jay Hayes were still there, present and accounted for at Georgia’s first practice for Saturday’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt. The only thing that’s missing is the tremendous impact everybody thought they’d be making by now.
The Bulldogs will reach the halfway point of the season when they play host to the Commodores. Prior to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff, Georgia is still awaiting Robertson’s first pass reception of the season and Hayes’ first impactful play of any kind.
Hayes, who started every game at defensive end at Notre Dame last season, has two tackles in five games. Robertson, who starred at Cal as freshman, has three rushing attempts for 97 yards. Notably, his first one of those went 72 yards for a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ season opener against Austin Peay.
Nothing to be concerned about, Kirby Smart said at his weekly news conference earlier in the day Monday.
“They are both good players, both growing, getting better, both competing,” Smart said. “I think both of them are good football players. I think they continue to get better and continue to work hard. They’re part of a team that’s bigger than their individual goals and they’re both improving.”
To date, Robertson hasn’t been able to infiltrate Georgia’s wide receiver rotation. Even with injuries that have befallen starters Terry Godwin and Tyler Simmons, Robertson’s offensive snaps have been extremely limited. He has been a regular on the Bulldogs’ kickoff team and is a backup returner for both punts and kickoffs.
“‘D-Rob’ is a little different where he came in kind of late, didn’t get the summer practices, didn’t get to work out with the team, and he’s still learning a lot of things,” Smart explained.
Hayes, a 6-3, 289-pound graduate transfer, is listed as a backup defensive end on Georgia’s depth chart. But a lot of his snaps this season have come at noseguard, where he’s playing behind juniors Julian Rochester and Michael Barnett.
“I see them as, in my opinion, major contributors, because what they do in special teams and what they do in practice helps develop our team,” Smart said. “I don’t know what the expectation would be. For me it is to get the best we can out of those guys and for them to help us and also achieve their goals. I think both of those guys are working really hard, doing good things for us.”
Both were indeed working hard at Georgia’s practice Monday. They continued to get repetitions behind established starters.
Other practice observations during the 7-minute viewing window:
- “Welcome back, Tyler,” receivers coach Cortez Hankton shouted after Simmons hauled in a hard-thrown pass from quarterback John Seter during drills. Simmons was indeed practicing and appeared to be doing so at full speed despite wearing a harness on his injured shoulder. The 4-game starter sat out the Tennessee game with that injury.
- Cade Mays was still working at right guard, where he appeared to excel in a first-time start at that position in last Saturday’s game. Andrew Thomas (ankle) remains at left tackle and Solomon Kindley at left guard.
- Smart was paying close attention Jim Chaney’s pass-protection drills for tight ends. That’s understandable considering the Bulldogs pass-protection issues this season, particularly when tight ends are involved.
- Georgia’s secondary lineup appeared unchanged in drills, with freshman Tyson Campbell at cornerback and junior Tyrique McGhee at star.
- Deangelo Gibbs, who has not played in Georgia’s last two games, is still practicing.