ATHENS — Georgia will hold its third and final scrimmage of preseason camp on Thursday. And, make no mistake about, it won’t be a dress rehearsal.
In the words of coach Mark Richt, it will be “a competitive scrimmage” in which jobs will be won and lost. And that goes beyond just the Bulldogs’ high-profile quarterback competition.
“There are still more guys we’re trying to evaluate,” Richt said.” There’s a lot of competition going, even within the kicking teams. There’s just a lot of guys that are right on the bubble.”
The goal is to determine who will make the Bulldogs’ 70-man travel squad for conference road games. Never mine that Georgia has only one of those in the first five weeks — in week two at Vanderbilt. The objective Thursday is to determine which players would make that list.
“Everything is wide open,” said sophomore defensive back Aaron Davis, who started 10 games as a walkon last season and earned a scholarship this one. “Nobody’s really safe. Everybody has to bring it every day. That’s the only way we can get better. Everybody’s got to keep competing. Even if you’re first team, you still need to bring it.”
Said Richt: “We want to make sure we’re preparing the right guys. It’s like (a cut). … It’s similar to that. We’re making decisions based on a 70 number.”
Of course, it is the quarterback position that is commanding most of the attention in regard to playing time. Richt insisted Wednesday that it remains a three-man race between Brice Ramsey, Greyson Lambert and Faton Bauta. Wednesday’s practice was closed but Bauta had been limited to third-team reps the previous two days while Lambert and Ramsey got snaps with the No. 1 offense.
“We changed the rotation a little bit, but we’re still evaluating all three of those guys on a daily basis,” Richt said.
Asked how they would be rotated in Thursday’s scrimmage, Richt said he hadn’t met yet with offensive coordinator Brian Schotteheimer to make that determination.
“We’ll watch the film today and get the rotation down,” he said.
Meanwhile, Richt was asked to assess the attributes of the three quarterback candidates:
On Lambert: “Day one, I got a little nervous for a minute there because he struggled. But I think he was a little nervous, had a little nervous energy and all. But he’s settled in now and he’s throwing the ball well as far as fundamentally. For the amount of time he’s been here and been in the system, he’s done a good job of learning what to do and gotten himself in the competition.”
On Ramsey: “Brice has really improved his preparation skills. Starting in the spring I saw a difference in him. I think it had a lot to do with him thinking ‘I’m in this thing.’ I don’t know if he was mature enough before to really be preparing for the moment.’ … I saw a big change in the spring in how he was preparing.”
On Bauta: “Faton is a preparation machine. I mean, the guy works. He may be the hardest-working guy I’ve ever seen. And he really cares about his team and teammates and making others better around him. He’s probably made the least amount of mistakes than anybody out there. He’s been very good about having a purpose every time he throws the ball, which I appreciate.”
As for providing any insight on which of three might win the job, whether they’d play more than one, etc., Richt reserved the right to withhold information.
“I don’t like telling anybody anything,” he said. “Any information is useful to the other team. I don’t want to help the other team. I don’t want to be rude to y’all, but I don’t want to help the team. It’s our goal is to win.”
But the competition extends well beyond the signal-callers. Interior defensive line is an area of great uncertainty, as is the wide receiver rotation and assignments in the defensive backfield.
“Every scrimmage I’ve ever played in is about earning your spot, and right now I don’t believe anybody has earned a spot,” said senior noseguard Chris Mayes. “At this stage, we are all focused on ourselves and how we can get better individually and as a team. Next week, we will start working on preparing for the other team.”
The Bulldogs open the season against Lousiana-Monroe on Sept. 5.