ATHENS — The SEC released its official statement on the fall preseason practice schedule adjustment on Tuesday, taking into account the league’s recent decision to start the season later.
The SEC will kick off the season with a 10-game, conference-only slate on Sept. 26, thus the first allowable practice being scheduled for Aug. 17.
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Here’s the league’s official statement, per associate commissioner Herb Vincent:
“The new SEC calendar provides student-athletes with more days off than required by the NCAA and fewer practices than permitted by current NCAA rules.
The new preseason calendar was developed based on recommendations of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
Last week the SEC announced its intention to begin the 2020 season on September 26 as it continues to monitor developments around COVID-19. The original start date of September 5 would have allowed for preseason football practice to begin August 7.
In the revised SEC preseason football calendar, from August 7-16 schools are permitted to conduct up to 14 hours per week of strength and conditioning, meetings and walkthroughs.
Beginning August 17 and until the opening game, schools are allowed 25 practices with a limit of 20 hours per week of practice time. A five-day acclimatization period is required, with two days in helmets only, two days in shells and the fifth day in full pads.
Schools will be required to provide student-athletes a minimum of two days off each week until the week before the first game of the season.”
Here are three ways it affects Georgia football:
1. Voluntary workouts
You can bet the Bulldogs’ players will hold their own voluntary workouts outside of the supervised (countable) hours. It’s no different than how star basketball players find time to get extra shots up.
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That means more skeleton work with quarterbacks and receivers working against some of the players from the Bulldogs’ deep and talented secondary.
Jamie Newman, JT Daniels, D’Wan Mathis and Carson Beck are all competing for reps, but more importantly, getting in sync with a young receiver group.
This Georgia defense is dialed in to winning a championship, with leadership on all three levels, so you can count on extra work in the front seven, too.
2. Efficiency expertise
The players won’t be in full equipment until Aug. 21, the fifth day of the new acclimation period. There will only be 20 more supervised practices allowed after the leading up to the Sept. 26 opening weekend.
Kirby Smart’s Georgia teams have consistently ranked among the best conditioned and most dominant in the fourth quarter of early season football games, likely a result of the measured time he Bulldogs hold in the red-hot Athens heat.
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Smart often rotates units from outside to the cooler conditions of the indoor facility, taking great care to avoid any heat-related illnesses, while making sure his players get the benefit of dirt and sweat.
Georgia practices are a model of efficiency with players sprinting between drills and no time wasted.
Smart suggested earlier this offseason he might have ones and threes practice together and twos and fours, as he looks to get as many reps as possible to build offensive depth and allow for competition at each position.
3. Advantage, defense
If there’s a clear winner in the SEC moving back the start of organized practices, it’s the defenses around the nation.
Even with quarterbacks and receivers putting in the voluntary work and extra time in skeleton drills playing pitch and catch, it’s not the same as holding scrimmages in pads.
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The 2020 season already figured to favor defenses with most teams’ missing all or most of spring drills — a time when coaches begin to establish position group hierarchy and design schemes around talent.
In Georgia’s case, it’s a good trade-off, as the Bulldogs return nine starters on a defense with staff continuity, great multiplicity and ridiculous depth. The Bulldogs had 35 players on defense get more than 100 snaps last season.
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