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What we learned about Georgia football as second scrimmage approaches
The Bulldogs have transitioned from full-blown camp mode to a more regimented practice schedule now that school is officially underway at Georgia. But the past week was still illuminating, as Georgia conducted its first scrimmage last Saturday.
The Bulldogs will have their second scrimmage on Saturday and based off what Kirby Smart said last Saturday, there are a number of areas the team can improve on.
After talking to players and Smart this past week here are some of the things we learned about the Georgia football team during its second full week of practice:
Quarterback: Jake Fromm has to standout
Smart did not mention Fromm once while recapping Georgia’s first scrimmage. But the head coach did make it clear the first-team offense did not play up to its standard. And even though Fromm is just one of 11 on the first-team offense, a lot ultimately falls on his plate.
“Both No. 1 units were a little lethargic, not real good timing, some bust on defense, so there are some things to clean up,” Smart said.
Fromm is in no danger of losing the starting position, but the junior quarterback still has some pressure on him. If Georgia is going to win its first national title since 1980, Fromm is going to need to elevate his game. And based on the first scrimmage results, he did not do that.
Fortunately, Fromm still has plenty of time to fine-tune his game.
Running back: Load management is going to become a thing
Load management entered the cultural lexicon in 2019 due to the way NBA teams handled resting some of their superstars. That term is often going to be mentioned with the Georgia backfield in 2019 as well.
D’Andre Swift was briefly absent from practice on Tuesday. He did return to practice on Tuesday and was back out with the team on Thursday for the media viewing portion. But it’s still going to be a story worth watching, given Swift’s history with injuries.
There’s also the fact that another Georgia running back Zamir White is coming back from a torn ACL. While all reports indicate he’s been excellent this fall, Smart and offensive James Coley aren’t going to try and go 100 miles per hour with White in the first few weeks of the season.
Georgia hasn’t had a running back top 23 carries in a game since Smart’s first game at Georgia back in 2016, so the Bulldogs have shown that they’re going to spread the ball around. Expect them to do that a lot in 2019 with the depth and concerns about the running back room.
Wide receiver: Pickens, Pickens, Pickens
The story of the first scrimmage was the catch by the 5-star freshman George Pickens. Smart didn’t single out Pickens with praise, but the leaked video would’ve blown any words Smart had to say out of the water.
DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell caught up with Pickens’ older brother, who provided a detailed scouting report of what to expect from the talented freshman.
“He’s a competitor, man. He is a ball of energy. People are going to be aware of that around him,” Chris Humes said. “They are going to want to match this dude’s intensity. He hates to lose a game. He hates to lose on a route and he hates to lose on any ball, be it a jump ball or a slant or anything.”
It has yet to be seen if Pickens will be a starter for Georgia when it takes the field against Vanderbilt. But if he can make a few more viral grabs, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep him off the field.
Tight end: Todd Hartley, feeding the fire
Three Georgia tight ends met with the media this week, and all three gave more insight on new tight ends coach Todd Hartley.
And the big takeaway is that Hartley is a very passionate coach. And while an off-switch might exist for the new coach, his players like that he’s intense pretty much all the time.
“He definitely brings the intensity. He’s got a thing called ‘feed the fire,’” Charlie Woerner said. “It deals with fighting the disease within and the sinful nature we have as humans. Being selfless [is something he talks about]. He brings that ‘feed the fire’ attitude, and we bring that every day and try and help each other.”
Offensive line: No Ceiling
Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson both agreed: Georgia’s offensive line does not have a ceiling on it for the 2019 season.
“We have tons of talent to the 1s to the 2s to the 3s,” Wilson said. “We’re all great players. I trust whoever ends up at that right guard spot.”
That depth was tested a year ago, as Wilson was the only Georgia offensive lineman to start and finish every game. But those injuries are going to end up helping the offensive line this year.
“We have so much talent,” Thomas said. “And then playing in the SEC, guys are going to get hurt and go down. Having a 10-deep of players is going to be beneficial to the team.”
Defensive line: Travon comin’
Georgia has a lot of upperclassmen on the defensive line. But it has been freshman Travon Walker who has created a ton of buzz this fall.
Walker is the only 5-star prospect in the group and his athleticism is a big reason why he’s been able to stand out so far.
The freshman still has a number of quality players to try and surpass on the depth chart, but if Walker lives up to his teammates’ reviews, it will be hard for Smart and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning to keep him off the field this fall.
Outside linebacker: Depth is still really good after Cox
Smart isn’t at all concerned about the depth of the outside linebacker room after the departure of Brenton Cox. In the past week, Cox enrolled at Florida. While the Gators are hoping for him to be eligible this season, the odds of that happening aren’t all that good.
Back to Georgia’s outside linebacker room, Azeez Ojulari, Nolan Smith, Jermaine Johnson and Walter Grant have all continued to alleviate any concerns about the loss of a former 5-star prospect.
But a bigger reason why the Cox defection might not be so big is that Georgia may not play a ton of outside linebackers this year.
“We have one of them on the field on most snaps,” Smart said. “If we have one of them on the field and there’s six of them, I wish we were that deep at every position. We don’t. Sometimes we get two of them in regular but not a lot of people play regular anymore.”
Inside linebacker: Three-man unit
Nakobe Dean was the talk of practice during the first week. And his impressive start has made a top-two of Monty Rice and Tae Crowder into a three-man group.
And Smart made it clear that those three players have all distanced themselves from the rest of the inside linebackers.
“You want to have this continuity of two or three guys who are ready to go out there and play,” Smart said. “We don’t have much separation right now, especially among our top three. I thought last year we were able to spell and keep guys fresh by playing three.”
Defensive backs: Havoc is coming
For a long time, Smart has been bullish on the Georgia secondary. J.R. Reed, Richard LeCounte, Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell have all played significant snaps and still have room to improve.
All three newcomers in the secondary — Lewis Cine, Tyrique Stevenson and D.J. Daniel — have impressed early on as well.
Reed spoke with reporters on Thursday night and provided a further glimpse into how the secondary performed during the first scrimmage.
“The interceptions of the last scrimmage and the turnovers of this last scrimmage, we’ve never had that in the last two years, so that’s a big jump,” Reed said.
If the secondary is able to create those havoc plays Smart loves to talk about, this could easily be the best defense Georgia has had in a long time.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Own the East: Combination of returning talent, touted newcomers should improve UGA ‘Havoc Rate’
- Georgia football Practice 12 report: D’Andre Swift returns, but not first through drills
- Georgia places 10 players on Preseason All-SEC Coaches’ teams
- Georgia AD Greg McGarity reveals expenses not included in USA Today fiscal report
- Homegrown: Family roots now run 44 years deep for Warren McClendon Jr. with UGA
- Georgia tight end Eli Wolf explains life in the transfer portal
- Skyrocketing Georgia football ticket pricing spiked by Notre Dame
- Own the East: Jake Fromm working to gain chemistry with new WRs
Dawgs on Twitter
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) August 15, 2019
🚨New Rivals Rankings out:
— Gabriel Sewell, Sr.🇦🇸 (@gsewell_sr) August 13, 2019
The LOUDEST I had ever heard the stadium at that point 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/PYyHC8ad0j
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Good Dawg of the Day
This is Gnocchi. He put on his best banana button-down for the beach today. It gives him confidence. 13/10 pic.twitter.com/6LXQI8etNl
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