Observations from the end zone, G-Day edition

My group, perhaps not trusting game preparations entirely, thought it would be wise to make for the stadium a couple of hours early.  For more than one reason, it wound up being a sensible choice.  Included in that was the opportunity to find a seat – a real seat, with a seat back – in the shade.  View of the field was good, to boot, so no complaints in that department.

Kirby famously stated earlier in the week that he wasn’t interested in putting on a show, that yesterday would be business as usual.  And in that sense, he was correct.  There wasn’t a single trick play.  Nick Chubb was dressed out and participated in pregame workouts, but never saw the field.

Nevertheless, I think the crowd was thoroughly entertained.  And not just by Ludacris.

And so, with the exception of the quarterbacks, whom I’ll address in a separate post, on to our old friends, the bullet points:

  • Brother, if you wanted to see the tight ends involved in the passing game, you got the tight ends involved in the passing game with a vengeance.  Tons of throws in their direction, and I would bet somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen catches.  As a whole, the group looked good.  Nauta, for a true freshman, looks polished and physical.
  • Ditto for the running backs in the passing game – lots of throws to Douglas and Payne.  All of the above useful for keeping the chains moving on a day when the running game seemed a bit constipated.
  • The downside to the above, of course, is that the defense appeared vulnerable to those plays in the flats.  There were a number of times when the offense was able to sneak somebody out into an area where there was an open spot in the coverage.  Sure, that’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it would kind of be nice to see a little progress.
  • It was hard to judge the running game.  For one thing, injuries have taken their toll.  Douglas got far more work than I would have expected, given his injury (although he played with a black jersey, so he wasn’t supposed to be tackled).
  • For another, the offensive line still has a way to go with run blocking.  Pittman appears to have his work cut out for him in that regard.  The good news is that there is some serious size there – Cleveland and Madden, in particular, are large human beings – but consistent physicality, something the staff wants, isn’t there yet.
  • The wide receivers group may have been the most pleasant surprise of the day.  Michael Chigbu and Jayson Stanley were targeted early and often and made some nice catches.  (Judging from the big screen and Kirby’s reaction, it looked like Chigbu was robbed on what should have been a great TD catch.)  Reggie Davis showed his speed and, more importantly, his hands, in having what I think was the best day yardagewise of any of the receivers.  Riley Ridley was another early enrollee who impressed, showing a great pair of hands on one impressive catch he made over the middle.
  • If that was the happy spot from yesterday, the defensive line has to be the biggest cause for concern.  Not because it’s talentless – Thompson was unblockable on occasion, D’Andre Walker embarrassed Baker with back-to-back sacks and Julian Rochester had his moments when he was a handful – but because there is no depth there due to injuries.  Add in the suspensions, and it looks really dicey for the opener.  We’d best hope there is someone in the bunch coming in the summer who can step up and take a few meaningful snaps.  Otherwise, the starters are going to get run to death with a HUNH offensive gameplan.
  • For all the passing yardage, I thought the defensive backs looked pretty good.  And you can see the Alabama effect – Smart and Tucker know how to coach secondaries – starting to take hold.  Roundtree had a nice pass breakup that looked just like they coach it, right on the border between physical coverage and pass interference.  (No penalty was called.)
  • The biggest surprise from special teams was simply that they decided to go live on kickoffs and punts, albeit without tackling the returners.  (Boy, did that frustrate McKenzie.)  There’s plenty of work to be done in the kicking game.  One botched snap and hold cost Ham a clean shot at a field goal.  There wasn’t a single touchback on a kickoff.  The only punt that was boomed came from Ramsey, and who knows if he’ll be the punter in the fall.
  • Aside from the snaps and a few understandable communication issues with the quarterbacks and Shaquery Wilson on handoffs, it was a surprisingly cleanly played affair.  I don’t recall much in the way of procedural penalties and the quarterbacks did a good job getting plays called and snapped in a timely way.  (Of course, some of that may have been due to their head coach standing right there urging them to get the plays off, but, still…)
  • Overall, there was a workmanlike feel to the day.  Job One was clearly to evaluate the quarterbacks.  Accordingly, there was an emphasis on the passing game, and a complete absence of Wildcat plays and jet sweeps, the latter, at least, being something you’d expect Chaney to deploy to take advantage of skill position speed.

I got the feeling afterwards that the coaches would spend a lot of time over the next few months chewing over yesterday’s game tape.  It may have been entertainment for us, but it was another day at the office for them.

31 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

31 responses to “Observations from the end zone, G-Day edition

  1. I do not recall a more relevant and anticipated G Day than that one yesterday, at least in the past so many years.

    Like

    • Dawg_Dave

      I really enjoyed the 12 personal Chaney deployed. That really does seem to be the personal which fits our strengths best. I expect to see a lot of this.

      Receiving core left me feeling much less worried. We’re young but have more talent than I expected. Just means now there is more time to worry about the LOS as mentioned.

      Like

  2. heyberto

    Getting the Senator’s analysis makes it feel a little bit like fall. One of my favorite types of posts here on GTP. Thanks Senator.

    Like

  3. Normaltown Mike

    no QBRs the day of the game?

    Pfft, this blog’s gone to pieces.

    Like

  4. doofusdawg

    Great synopsis. The one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the job that Coach Coley is doing. The receivers looked fast, precise, blocked well and frankly looked like they could start or at least play on any sec team. I think Coley is the gem on the best offensive coaching staff we have had in years if not ever. Hope we can keep him for a few years.

    Like

  5. I’ve been out of pocket a bit and haven’t watched the game yet (have it recorded). Is Shaquery at RB just for depth purposes for the spring, or is that potentially a permanent move?

    Like

  6. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Regarding the kicking game, I am just old enough to recall when Billy Lothridge was the QB and punter for Tech back in the Bobby Dodd days. I say let Ramsey punt, period, whether he wins the QB job or not. Besides the fact that he clearly has the best leg, everyone will have to wonder if he is going to punt or if it is a fake, because he can throw pretty well. If he is the regular punter, a fake really is a fake.

    On the other hand, I got nothing for kickoffs. Maybe someone will turn up in the fall. I will say that I didn’t get the impression that they were purposely trying corner pooch kicks, but I don’t know if that is good or bad. Maybe they were just going real vanilla because of the nature of the game and limited run back opportunities.

    Like

    • Russ

      Agree totally with Ramsey punting. Name him the punter, let him continue in the QB competition, and maybe he’ll work a little harder this fall. If nothing else, put a punt/pass/run option in there for him and it can only help our punting game.

      Like

      • adam

        We do have a HS All-American punter on the way. I agree that Brice was definitely the best punter yesterday. But he also may have been the best QB.

        10 and 12 were impressive.

        Like

  7. Turd Ferguson

    Greyson Lambert must look really good in drills.

    Like

    • LOL I said something similar to that to my dad last week after one of the reporters basically said that if they had to pick a starter today, it would still be Lambert (this was before yesterday). I said “Lambert must be one heck of a ‘practice’ quarterback.”

      Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      GL had a very nice first quarter touchdown pass which was incorrectly called out of bounds.

      Happy with all four QBs yesterday. I am more concerned with our size and depth along the lines as compared to the other SEC teams.

      S&C will play a very big role this year.

      Like

  8. BMan

    From the view on TV, it didn’t appear that anything was wrong with the snap on the botched FG. It was just muffed by the holder (Ramsey, I believe).

    Like

    • rchris

      From the view in the stands, almost right in front of me, that’s what I saw too. The snap might not have been perfect, but Ramsey should have handled it.

      Like

      • 83dawg

        Yeah, I was waiting for it when watching the replay yesterday–that was all on Ramsey. That was the worst botch I’ve seen (at the college and pro level) since Romo a couple of years ago for Dallas in the playoffs–that one looked like he had been eating greasy fried chicken during a commercial break and forgot to wipe his hands.

        Eason, on the other hand, got the worst snap of the day on an extra point. That thing was high and outside (for him–inside for the kicker) and he reached up and out and leaned and caught it with both hands and got the ball down in a hurry. PAT good.

        For me, that was the one position battle that was completely resolved on Saturday–holder.

        Well, it’s a start…

        😎

        Like

  9. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    Watching on TV conferred several advantages. 1. I didn’t have to drive 125 miles to and from Athens. 2. I didn’t have to worry about a place to park. 3. I had an opportunity to watch some other SEC spring games. Two observations: The Tide is going to be really tough again defensively (no surprise). We need to pray for Missouri’s offense (but only after we play them) because they don’t have a quarterback who can hit the broad side of an open receiver.

    Like

  10. CannonDawg

    It didn’t take long yesterday after viewing a full Sanford Stadium to confirm to me that the coaching (and other) changes have the program heading in the right direction. I realize that Georgia hasn’t yet won a game in the Smart era, but the energy around the program is high, the recruiting seems to be gaining real momentum, and there is talent already aboard. I liked what I saw yesterday from the skill players, and the effort overall was solid. I especially liked the idea of giving the new signees a moment in the sun in front of the large crowd. Kirby is paying attention to details that will make a difference on down the line. How big a difference, and how soon it will appear, we’ll have to wait and see. But the more I see, the more encouraged I am.

    It will be nice to get back to the Georgia Dome in September. Even nicer in December. Yes, Kirby, I too am glad you’re home.

    Like

    • merk

      Kirby has completely changed our recruiting. This is the key, not the X’s and O’s. Alabama is a beast not because Saban is unbeatable, but because he has 2-3 deep at every position that could be 1’s on pretty much any team. This only occurs when you recruit at a very high level and Kirby knows that. It is a lot easier to coach a guy who has another 4-5 star trying to take his spot than trying to threaten benching them for a 3 star or Walk on.

      Like

      • Otto

        While Bama is the strongest program in the nation at the moment, Saban won his first 2 national titles with a program that was no where near as strong. Recruiting is key but getting the best out of your talent your is still very critical, by play calling and not allowing players to overlook any game.

        Like

        • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

          I am beginning to think there is no such thing as a ‘key’ unless the ‘key’ is attending to all the details in all areas. I have been skeptical of the all the support staff, but it is becoming more clear to me that they handle a lot of details that aren’t coaching per se, but that need to be done so the coaches can coach. I’m all in.

          Like

  11. rchris

    2 hours before game time, I was a little worried because the stadium seemed less than 1/3 full. Even an hour before, there were plenty of seats left. Then about 15 minutes before Ludacris, the place started filling up rapidly and reached full capacity. That tells me a lot of people didn’t believe we’d make it to a “sell out”. Another thing I noticed was a mass exodus that began at.halftime. We had 93k, but only for the duration of the first half. Still, all in all it was an exhilarating day. Go ‘Dogs!

    Like

  12. ApalachDawg

    I feel very happy and confident about our programs new direction and attitude. Everyone is all jacked up and hopped up on Bulldog red koolaid (including me) but why am I still scared to death?

    Maybe it is because I still have scar tissue from my school years(Goff years…)

    Thunder Clap the Tar Heels…

    Like

  13. We got to the stadium around 3:55. There were over 100k people in that building and more trying to get in. Every concourse was more packed than halftime of a typical SEC game. The 600 levels had people at every staircase trying to find a seat. I’m told they began turning people away shortly after 4pm.

    I would honestly believe it if 110k people tried to see that football game. Wish we could track it.

    Like

    • Governor Milledge

      Agreed on the 110k total – we went downtown during the 2Q after only finding a place to stand in the ‘alumni’ side concourse. Downtown was slightly less packed than a regular SEC home game would otherwise be

      Like

  14. @gatriguy

    Things are looking up and I believe Kirby has a vision and plan. But quality depth on the OL and DL can’t be addressed in one recruiting cycle. Kirby is going to pay the price for the previous staff never figuring out OL recruiting. But things are going to get much much better I think. It’s just going to take a few cycles.

    Like

  15. 83dawg

    I was interested in what I thought I saw–that the coaches were testing a few players to see how they did under stress. They definitely sent all kinds of pressure at Eason to see how he reacted.

    Ben Clevend got a lot of playing time (did you see him standing next to the rest of the offensive line?) Sheesh–that is a big young man.

    Rashad Roundtree got a lot of playing time as well. At first, he looked like he did in high school–couldn’t decide between jumping the route and hitting or trying to be safe and tackle, and got neither done. Later on he jumped a route and leveled the receiver just as the ball came in. 😎

    Still waiting to see how his best play works in the SEC.

    In HS, he could wander up to the LOS and at the snap burst in with an edge blitz and get to the QB at the hand off on running plays, or to the QB at step 2 of their 3-step-drop.

    Won’t work in the SEC.

    And yeah, I sorta know him, and my son played a different sport with him, and they had a lot of classes together, and used to work out in the weight room together.

    Like