Emily Gagnon of CBS46 joined the DawgNation “On the Beat” show on Monday to discuss the Bulldogs’ championship hopes and potential hurdles that lie ahead.
Here are three areas Georgia needs to solve or improve during the bye week to give itself the best chance to win a championship.
JT Daniels is an elite quarterback with NFL arm talent and field vision when 100 percent and changes the dimension of the Bulldogs’ offense with his passing marksmanship (9-of-9 converting for a first down on third down throws in SEC play).
Daniels is capable of scrambling for yardage but his pre-snap reads and ability to get the team into the right plays has negated any need for him to become a runner.
Georgia has the luxury of having a capable and experienced option in Stetson Bennett, who has proven he can play winning football and run an efficient offense.
Bennett has shown moxie and deceptive sprinter-like speed, giving the Bulldogs an added dimension. Bennett, however, is only 2 of 17 converting for first downs on third down throws in SEC play.
2. Special teams
Smart said he was particularly disappointed with special teams, with Jack Podlesny missing an extra point, Jake Camarda shanking a punt and Kearis Jackson bobbling two returns and failing to show the burst needed to get the corner on another return.
Camarda is not a major concern — he’s the best punter in the nation, and even when he shanks a kick, it still goes 35 yards.
Podlesny is capable but needs to get out of his own head and stop overthinking it, because he has shown the talent and poise to be a championship kicker and his coach has exhibited complete support.
Jackson is injured, raising the question as to why Smart keeps using injured players in the return game (Tyler Simmons?) when there is plenty of other capable talent (Ladd McConkey) on the roster. UGA is 86th in the nation in punt returns — inexcusable considering the amount of practice that unit gets.
Smart said Georgia is playing a lot more zone, and that’s an effective coaching move to help camouflage the lack of depth at cornerback and the perilously thin line at safety that’s pressed former walk-on Dan Jackson into action.
Teams will continue to target Kelee Ringo, who needs his skillset to catch up with his great athleticism before he can become effective at the cornerback position.
Smart mentioned freshman Kamari Lassiter making an earlier impression at corner in fall drills, but he has yet to evolve into a game-time position player. True freshman Nyland Green had the benefit of spring drills but he has not done anything in games to back up the No. 1 he boldly chooses to wear.