ATHENS — The Georgia football team is focused on its noon game with Vanderbilt this week, that much the Bulldogs’ fans can be assured of.
There’s so much competition within Coach Kirby Smart’s team that no one can look past each day’s practice and the corresponding film review and critical analysis from coaches that enables them to improve their craft.
But as the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) prepare for Vanderbilt (1-2) and the Saturday game in Nashville, it’s hard not to take a look around at the changing landscape.
Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State are not the sure things of the past, each having their struggles through the first three games of the season.
Closer to home, there are plenty of takeaways from the 31-29 victory Alabama scored over Florida in The Swamp last Saturday.
To be fair, Georgia has its own challenges, but it will take a special football team playing at the highest level to beat the Bulldogs.
Smart is the first to point out the team weaknesses, well aware that they are glaring on tape.
The Commodores do not have the players necessary to beat the Bulldogs. Arkansas, the next week’s opponent, also lacks the sort of skill position talent needed to fully exploit the Georgia weaknesses.
But there is some mystery surrounding the rivalry games played away from home at Auburn and some 70 miles from Gainesville in Jacksonville Florida this season.
Here are three questions for Georgia to answer.
1. Kirby Smart’s quarterback rotation
Smart said Monday he wouldn’t close the door on rotating quarterbacks, but he said that with the qualifier that much had to do with JT Daniels’ health and ability to perform in practice. Daniels looked good throwing the football during the open period on Monday.
Also, Smart is aware that there are games remaining where the score could get out of hand, and he certainly wants to leave the door open for options. It’s only fair to give players the opportunity to compete for playing time, and reward those hardest workers when and where you can.
It’s a long season, and keeping Daniels fresh and healthy is one of the top priorities at Georgia.
2. Developing cornerbacks
South Carolina completed four passes of more than 35 yards on the Bulldogs’ cornerbacks, and it wasn’t just senior Ameer Speed. Former Clemson All-ACC cornerback Derion Kendrick got beat, and so did rising freshman Kamari Lassiter.
The secondary is overseen by Smart but also gets input from former UGA safety and South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, along with defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of coaching going on.
Now, it’s up to the players to develop, most notably Kelee Ringo and highly touted freshman Nyland Green, who must soon earn his highly coveted No. 1 jersey number or potentially risk losing it.
3. Settling offensive line
Games are won and lost in the trenches, as Florida nearly proved against No. 1-ranked Alabama.
The Georgia offensive line does not look as physical or as cohesive as the unit the Gators put on the field, nor does it measure up to the physical standards set by Sam Pittman’s groups of yesteryear.
Second-year offensive line coach Matt Luke wanted a more athletic unit, but certainly not at the expense of staying assignment sound or being able to move people in the run game.
Changes are coming on the offensive line, and it can’t happen fast enough as the Bulldogs will need an elite level of play to keep Daniels’ uniform clean, while also paving the way for a 100-yard rusher.
Award-winning college football analyst Matt Hayes joined the On The Beat Show to discuss Georgia, Florida, Alabama and other national championship contenders.