ASK THE EXPERTS
ATHENS — Georgia’s situation at wide receiver already was intriguing before Demetris Robertson showed up. Then the Cal transfer received NCAA waiver clearance to play this season and it suddenly became incredibly interesting.
Today is my turn to tackle the “Ask the Experts” question for DawgNation. It’s a new feature that will be running every day of the week during the season (and the rest of the preseason, of course). Mike Griffith, Jeff Sentell, Brandon Adams and I will rotate that responsibility, kind of like the Bulldogs will be doing on the defensive line this season.
And at receiver.
So back the question du jour. I received queries from a few different people about Georgia’s wideouts, but the one I could get my hands on quickest to share with you today was from Ramon Toribio of Atlanta, better known as “El Dawg” around the DawgNation forum and in our various comments sections. And since he’s kind of a regular on all our platforms, I figured I’d take his.
El Dawg tweeted this question to me:
Chip? Your guess , who are the 3 starting WR vs Austin Peay if everyone is healthy between Godwin , Mecole , Ridley , DRob ?
— EL Dawg (@ToribioRamon) August 16, 2018
That’s a very good question, made harder by the caveat, “if everyone is healthy.” And that’s the problem at this juncture when we’re talking about the Austin Peay game. Georgia opens the season against the Governors, an FCS program, in exactly two weeks.
At this point, I think it’d be a stretch to say Godwin will be ready to play in that game. He has returned to the practice field this week, at least during the limited early portions of practice that Kirby Smart allows the media to see. But I’m convinced that he’s not anywhere close 100 percent yet with whatever this “minor knee injury” is that Smart refers to. He looked slightly gimpy to when he was participating in drill work with the other receivers this past week.
Let me just say that any receiver rotation that Georgia uses this season will include a healthy Terry Godwin. The Bulldogs have a number of exceptional receivers and athletes playing receiver, as we all know, but Godwin is indisputable as the Bulldogs’ best overall receiver in terms of both talent and experience, in my opinion. Not only is he the team’s leading returning receiver statistically, but he also sported the top targeted-QBR rating of all returning receivers in the country this season. That means when he was targeted, he usually caught the ball, usually caught it for good gains and often converted either a first down or a score out of it.
As it was, Godwin had 38 catches for 638 yards and 6 touchdowns last season, which gives him 1,415 and 8 TDs for his career, not including his rushing and kick-returning stats. So whenever he’s healthy, Godwin will be a mainstay in the rotation and I’m guessing in the starting lineup.
That said, with regard to Austin Peay, I wouldn’t think Georgia would risk Godwin’s health for a game like that. I definitely think Hardman, as his 25 catches and 4 TDs attest, is your top flanker. And I believe Ridley’s good work in the postseason is deserving of the reward of a start in the next season’s opener.
As for Robertson, something tells me Smart won’t start him just to make a point. He has made a point to heave a lot of praise on senior Jayson Stanley and juniors Tyler Simmons and Trey Blount during preseason practice. I could see the coaches wanting to give those guys a start, which has been rare in their careers.
But again, the key with receivers is Georgia plays a lot of them, like most teams do. There generally is a six-player rotation in any given game, and the Bulldogs will probably travel eight to 10 depending on how many of them also contribute on special teams.
Based on his production at Cal, it follows that Robertson will be in that top six, if not the top three. But he’ll have to prove himself first. That’s what he is in the midst of trying to do with Georgia’s coaches.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of other wideouts in this huge group of athletes who are going to need to get looks. Senior Ahkil Crumpton, who has had a great camp, has a much better grasp of the offense and is going to be a returner on special teams. Matt Landers seems to have been moving up in the rotation during camp. J.J. Holloman and Kearis Jackson have turned heads at different times.
For the sake of answering your question, I’ll say Ridley, Hardman, Stanley. But unless Georgia decides to run a lot of 4- and 5-wide sets this season, there are probably going to be a lot of talented athletes left on the sideline this season.
For the record, I don’t expect Robertson to be one of those. He’ll be deeply involved while the Bulldogs have a chance to use him
If he’s everything he’s cracked up to be, that might not be long.
Thanks for sending in your question. Look for it daily throughout the week going forward.