Perfect weather, 63 points and nobody got hurt… that’s a successful G-Day game in my book.
It would be easy to overanalyze a game which the coaches didn’t take too seriously – the Black team scored on a two-point conversion when the Red team didn’t bother to send anyone out to defend a point-after kick – so I think I’ll abide by the sage advice of Nick Saban (“One thing that never happens in college football is no one ever has a bad spring and no one ever has a bad spring game.”) and skip getting too far in the weeds here. In fact, you have my permission to snicker at anyone who suggests that the stats from yesterday’s game prove much of anything.
That being said, there were a few things I saw yesterday worth sharing with you.
- Isaiah Crowell. In my humble opinion, he was the big story. It’s easy to forget what he looked like earlier in the season last year when he was healthy, but it was obvious from the first handoff that he’s recovered fully from his ankle injury. He can get to the corner in a hurry; if Georgia has a tackle who can seal off the end defender, Crowell is going to see his share of big runs this season. Two bonuses: he looks much more comfortable about where he’s supposed to go and his pass protection effort has improved noticeably. Overall, me very happy with what I saw.
- The rest of the running backs. Richt’s right about how Ken Malcome is coming on. It’s not just happy talk. He’s running with more confidence and authority. And, yes, we saw Richard Samuel’s début at fullback. He was okay, but it still strikes me as a waste of what Samuel does best, which is to take off and blast in one direction. When he hits the hole hard and doesn’t screw around with making any east-west moves, he can be a formidable runner. He looked good when he stuck to that script yesterday.
- The offensive line. Honestly, the most pleasant surprise of G-Day was how well the first string line held up on the Red team’s first touchdown drive of the day. Unfortunately, the biggest mismatch yesterday was the second team offensive line against the second team defensive line. And line play wore down as the game went on because kids like Andrews and Burnette had to play for both squads. Bottom line: if John Theus is anywhere close to the hype, there’s a starting spot for him this fall.
- The wide receivers. No doubt the absence of Mitchell and Conley made a difference. Overall, this group was okay, but nothing particularly special. Scott-Wesley made a couple of nice catches and showed potential towards becoming a contributor in the fall. Tavarres King turned on the jets from about 30 yards out and scored on a nice pass in the flats. Marlon Brown didn’t do much catching the ball, but was responsible for springing King on the aforementioned TD with a terrific block. I can see why Bobo is lobbying to get Mitchell back as soon as possible.
- Tight ends. Neither Arthur Lynch or Jay Rome looked as fluid in the open field as Orson Charles did, but they’re both bigger, look like they’ll be better blockers and did okay when the ball came their way. Rome’s 60-plus-yard TD catch with a minute to go was the best play of the day, in fact.
- Quarterbacks. I know this will come as a disappointment to some, but there’s no doubt that Aaron Murray is the best quarterback on Georgia’s roster. It’s not a close call. He possesses the best skill set and is the most comfortable of the bunch running the offense. (Grantham had to start running some stunts and blitzes after that first TD drive to slow Murray down.) Mason’s release is as quick as Murray’s, but he lacks Aaron’s arm strength. As a runner, he’s noticeably less quick. The good news is that LeMay is progressing (more proof Bobo knows how to coach up quarterbacks, in case you needed that). His arm strength lies somewhere between that of Murray’s and Mason’s. He looked more comfortable out there than the year before running the offense, but still has a way to go – he was guilty of holding the ball too long on more than one occasion. His play-action fake may even be better than Aaron’s is. And LeMay is as quick as Murray, too. I expect an interesting battle at the position when Murray leaves.
- Defensive line. If the key to a defense is the play of its line, then rest easy, Dawgnation. Georgia’s is big, nasty and deep. As I already mentioned, it was almost unfair seeing what the Red team trotted out to start the game yesterday. One play worth particular note belonged to Cornelius Washington, who one-handed Kolton Houston out of the way and dropped Ken Malcome for a two-yard loss on a run (attempted run would be more accurate, I suppose). The whole thing was so easy it almost looked like Washington was bored.
- Linebackers. Ditto what I said about the defensive line. Overall, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Georgia team with more ability to make plays in the front seven than this team has. Which is good, considering that Ogletree, who is freakishly talented (in returning an interception, he put a couple of moves on Tavarres King that were just sick) and key members of the secondary will be missing in action for various parts of the season’s start.
- Defensive backs. If you’re worried about that season’s start, it’s hard to get a good read based on what they showed yesterday. Mitchell and Williams didn’t play; Rambo, Sanders and Smith did. One encouraging thing to note is that Swann looked good in coverage. Bowman had his moments, too.
That’s all I’ve got to give. If any of you were there yesterday, feel free to chip in with your thoughts.
(G-Day game highlights can be found here.)