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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Georgia football practice observations: Bulldogs simulating for future opponent, rotating on defense

Georgia football opens the season against Oregon on Sept. 3. But during part of the team’s 13th practice of the fall, the Bulldogs were attempting to emulate a look a different team on their schedule will give them.

While the offense and defense were working together, Georgia was simulating substation patterns to get players on and off the field and to identify opposing offensive looks. Georgia coach Kirby Smart, in an effort to motivate, bellowed over the loudspeaker “Tennessee is going fast.”

The Volunteers do not play the Bulldogs until Nov. 5, with the game set to be played in Athens. The two teams played last season, with Tennessee finding some early offensive success thanks to its tempo and wide alignments. Very few teams in the country match tempo and space on the offensive side of the ball like Tennessee, making them a truly unique opponent.

In some ways, it’s not dissimilar from how Georgia would prepare for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets ran a triple option, something Georgia wouldn’t see during the course of the season except for the final week of the year. Still, Georgia would dedicate practice time every week to prepare for the offensive attack.

The Bulldogs still haven’t moved into focusing on Oregon just yet, as the team is still working on internal improvements before shifting to Oregon prep. Georgia will have its second scrimmage on Saturday.

The media was granted roughly 12 minutes to watch practice. Below are some of the other observations we gleaned from practice.

  • Rian Davis, De’Nylon Morrissette, Earnest Greene and Brett Seither were among those working off to the side with various injuries. We know Morrisette is dealing with a knee injury and Greene has a hamstring injury. Seither and Davis’ injuries are unknown to this point.
  • Tate Ratledge and Kendall Milton were both back out working with their position groups. Ratledge has been dealing with turf toe while Milton has a hamstring injury.
  • While Ratledge was working with the offensive line again, it was Xavier Truss and Jared Wilson working with the first-team offensive line. Truss was at left guard and Wilson at right guard. The offensive line spent a portion of the period working on reach blocks.
  • The quarterbacks all looked good throwing deep passes during the open portion of practice on Saturday. The same can’t be said for the group of pass catchers, as there were more than a few drops in the drill. Even Brock Bowers, Georgia’s star tight end, had a ball hit his hands and then the ground.
  • Defensively, Georgia was rotating each position group through various position coaches. Fran Brown, Georgia’s cornerbacks coach, was working on coverage drills. Each group had a drill uniquely tailored to what they might be doing. For the outside linebackers, they were tasked with covering wheel routes out of the backfield. MJ Sherman came down with a nifty grab, while freshman Darris Smith earned a good job from Smart.
  • Those working with Tray Scott had to simulate being blocked while getting their hands up in order to deflect passes. Those working with Glenn Schumann did the same, only as a free rusher. Chidrea Uzo-Diribe was in charge of working with a rabbit drill, where players chase an opposing ball carrier.
  • The players were separated into four groups: interior defensive line, edge rushers(outside linebackers and defensive ends), inside linebackers and stars, and cornerbacks and defensive backs.
  • Georgia did have at least five NFL teams present on Thursday, with scouts from the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Detriot Loins, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in attendance.
  • Also on hand to watch the practice was Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley played at Alabama during Smart’s final season with the Crimson Tide. His younger brother, Riley, also played for Smart at Georgia. Calvin Ridley is currently serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL for gambling.

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