The 5 big questions Georgia still must answer before Vanderbilt opener

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Kirby Smart and Georgia open the season on Aug. 31.

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 The 5 big questions Georgia football must answer before Vanderbilt game

School has started at the University of Georgia and the Bulldogs have already conducted 10 practices. We’ve got some answers on how things have shaken out thus far, and several players have really emerged this month.

Related: The big winners from Georgia’s first 10 practices of the fall

But Georgia still faces some questions about its team heading into the Vanderbilt game. A number of position battles have yet to be decided, and as we saw with D’Andre Swift this week, injury management will be something to monitor in the run-up to the season-opener.

The Bulldogs still have another two-plus weeks before kicking off against Vanderbilt on Aug. 31. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

How healthy is the running back room?

Coming into fall camp, most of the questions regarding the health in this room revolved around redshirt freshman Zamir White. He had missed all of last season with an ACL tear, so the inquiries were justified.

Related: Zamir White impresses Kirby Smart with physical play in first scrimmage

But White isn’t the only Georgia running back with health worries. James Cook missed time at the end of last season and wasn’t fully healthy this spring. And that’s before unpacking what is going on with Swift. The junior running back was not seen during the media viewing portion of practice on Tuesday, but the indications are that he was there afterward.

Swift wasn’t healthy at the beginning of last season, as he was recovering from offseason groin surgery. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any serious injuries to anyone in the running back room. And it seems that White is having no issues with either of his surgically repaired knees.

Which wide receivers make up the top six rotation?

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has said that beyond the top-three wide receivers, there is a deeper rotation of six guys who will likely play.

Right now, the safe bets to fill up three of those spots are Tyler Simmons, Lawrence Cager and Demetris Robertson. Those three players have been running predominantly with the first group at practice. All three are veterans and have played significant college football snaps, even if Cager and Robertson haven’t done it at Georgia.

Related: George Pickens: 3 plugged-in sources share what to expect during his time at UGA

But the more interesting race might be for who fills out those next three slots. George Pickens is the player everyone is talking about after his unreal catch in the past scrimmage. But he’s not a lock to break into that rotation, as the likes of Trey Blount and Matt Landers are also in the mix at those outside wide receiver positions.

As for the slot, it’s a battle between Kearis Jackson and Dominick Blaylock. There’s also the chance that both make the top six, meaning only one of Blount, Landers or Pickens crack the rotation.

This top six will likely be pretty fluid throughout the season, especially as Pickens and Blaylock get more comfortable in the Georgia system. But with Georgia only being able to bring 70 players to the Vanderbilt game, it will be interesting to see how many wide receivers end up on the trip.

Who wins the right guard spot?

In talking to Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, they made it clear that it doesn’t matter who will win the right guard spot. Georgia’s offensive line is going to be ridiculous either way and whoever doesn’t get the starting nod will likely be the best sixth offensive lineman in all of college football.

Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays both spent last year starting at right guard. Cleveland got the start with the first-team offense during the spring game, but Mays has seen his fair share of reps on the first team. Mays has also been seen cross-training at center.

Smart has also mentioned that Mays will also get some work at tackle as well. But just because he’s working at all those spots should not be seen as him not being a real contender to win the right guard job.

“He’s an athlete but we can’t let that be a detriment to him, because if he can be in the starting five, he needs to be in the starting five,” Smart said. “But his value also is that can snap and he’s an athletic center. If you can play center, left tackle, and guard, you’re pretty talented and you’re bright.”

Either way, there isn’t a wrong answer as for whoever starts at right guard. And whichever player ends up getting the starting nod will have earned it.

What does the defensive line rotation look like? 

Much like the wide receiver room, there is a numbers game at play here given Georgia will only travel with 70 players to Vanderbilt.

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