I did sit on the 35 yesterday, but diagonally opposite (and in the upper deck) from my usual seat. While it was a lot farther from the play on the field than what I’m accustomed to, that vantage point was a useful one from which to observe pass coverage. And I’ve got to say that I left the game impressed with what Lakatos has been able to get his charges to accomplish so far. There were several plays where there were three receivers down field, all of whom were picked up and covered in textbook fashion (including picture perfect bracketing with a corner and safety combo). It happened frequently enough that they almost made it look – dare I say it? – routine.
That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty left to work on. There were times when receivers came wide open on crossing routes. And the linebackers are definitely a work in progress as far as coverage goes. But it’s a department that I’m cautiously optimistic about coming out of the spring.
Here are a few other things that stood out on a day when vanilla was the rule:
- Outside linebackers. If there’s anything really worth getting excited about from the scrimmage, it’s the realization that Houston and Washington were born to play in a 3-4. If the two stay healthy, they’re good enough for Grantham to build an SEC-caliber defense around. Still getting their feet wet when they’re asked to drop into coverage, the pair were dominant when they attacked the line.
- Artie Lynch. Yeah, I know Orson Charles has a chance to be a really special player (by the way, he looks noticeably bigger than he did at the end of last season). And Aron White isn’t exactly chopped liver either. But Lynch looked like the prototypical tight end out there – big dude, good hands, reasonably mobile. He had guys bouncing off of him all day. The position is shaping up to be one of Georgia’s deepest this season, which, considering the depth issues at receiver, is a very good thing.
- Washaun Ealey. Temper, temper. I know his numbers yesterday didn’t reflect anything special, but he just looked smoother in the offensive flow, particularly in the passing game, both protecting the quarterback and catching the ball. An Ealey with an all ’round game would be a beautiful thing to see in the fall.
- Kris Durham. Good to have you back, big guy. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Again, given the numbers at the position, that’s big.
As for the quarterbacks… well, let’s just start by saying that the message board chatter has been amusing to say the least. While it sounds like a majority of Dawgnation is ready to anoint Mettenberger the starter this morning, I’m more in the Richt camp right now. Logan Gray summed yesterday up best, I thought, when he said this:
“It matters some, but ultimately everybody’s going to have to compete again during fall camp, go out and take reps and make plays and run the offense again,” said Gray…
If you want a breakdown, here goes:
- Mettenberger. Can the “Bobo and Richt don’t know how to coach quarterbacks” talk be put to an end, please? Mett has made huge strides in becoming a functional quarterback. His footwork, touch on the ball and accuracy are light years ahead of where he was at last year’s G-Day. That first completion, the sideline pass to Wooten, was a thing of beauty. But he didn’t see the first team defense all day, which meant that he didn’t have to deal with Houston and Washington, which meant that he had the time to throw the deep balls that were so pretty.
- Gray. He clearly has the weakest arm of the three. He’s also clearly the most mobile of the three. His performance yesterday was serviceable. He did a nice job on the touchdown pass, but there were times I saw him struggle mightily with the coverage, as vanilla as things were.
- Murray. Aaron was noticeably pressing yesterday. His interception was Coxian and the result of the kind of decision making that I hope earns one a seat on the bench this season. He also overthrew a wide open A.J. Green for what would have been an easy touchdown pass. That being said, you can see that he’s got a lot going for him. He’s got the quickest release of the three and it’s not even close. His arm strength is closer to Mettenberger’s than Gray’s. And as much as I groaned when he overthrew Green on that pass, it was apparent that he read the snap coverage correctly and knew he had the matchup he wanted there from the get-go.
I’m not sure who wins the job in the fall – which is to say that I’ll be surprised if Richt names a starter any time soon – but I will say that I feel better about the position as a whole than I did after last year’s G-Day game.
So now we wait.