ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs (4-3, 2-3 SEC) continued their preparations for Saturday’s meeting against No. 14-ranked Florida (5-1, 3-1), in Jacksonville with a full-pads, full-contact workout under an unseasonably hot sun at the Club Sports Complex.
Notably different during the media observations period toward the end of the first third of Tuesday’ practice was heavy scout work. Both the defense and offense were getting detailed looks via what coach Kirby Smart calls the “look squad” and adjusting their formations accordingly. That’s an indication the Bulldogs are ahead of schedule due to the bye week. Normally such detailed ruminations come later in the week.
After that, Georgia shifted into more “good-on-good” work. That’s a change under Smart, where the No. 1 units for both the offense and defense go each other in practice. It requires more risk of injury but, in theory, makes for a stronger, tougher team used to competing at an ultra high level every snap.
“I would say this year we’re definitely going to be ready for the physicality that (the Gators) have,” senior tackle Greg Pyke said. This year we have practiced so physical against each other in the good-on-good stuff. We do a lot more of that this year than last year and that helps us as an offensive line and defensive line, because it’s all won up front in these big SEC games. Whoever dominates the line of scrimmage is going to win the game.”
Other observations from the 12-minute viewing period:
- Briefly it was unclear where linebacker Natrez Patrick was. As it turns out, he was out there all the time. He just wasn’t wearing his normal No. 6 jersey. Instead he was wearing N. 15, the same as D’Andre Walker, who is actually assigned it. Probably just a equipment issue but was somewhat confusing when both were working with the No. 1 defense.
- Speaking of the No. 1 defense, it appeared that sophomore Jonathan Ledbetter is set to get his first start of the season. After returning from a six-game suspension in the last outing against Vanderbilt, Ledbetter was working at right defensive end with the No. 1 defensive unit on Tuesday. Ledbetter was slated to start before running afoul of UGA’s drug and alcohol policy this summer.
- Michael Chigbu was late to practice. It may have been excused, but the sophomore receiver was spotted standing outside the Butts-Mehre Building in his socks and otherwise fully dressed out for practice after the team buses had already left.
- Cornerback Deandre Baker, who started two games before being sidelined against Vanderbilt, practiced for the second straight day on Tuesday. However, he did not look to be moving fluidly and at full speed. Later, Smart indicated Baker probably won’t be able to help the Bulldogs against Florida.
- Georgia is conducting a normal practice week despite playing in Jacksonville this week. However, their routine will be slightly different this year. After departing Athens via Delta regional jets mid-afternoon on Friday, they will stay in downtown Jacksonville this year. For the last several years, the Bulldogs have stayed in St. Augustine at the World Golf Village about 45 minutes away.