Let’s not read too much into Saturday, okay? It was a scrimmage in which Smart, by his own admission, limited what the offense and defense did, and had several key starters missing in action. Add to that the likelihood that at least a few regular season contributors haven’t even shown up on campus yet, and it seems prudent to curb one’s enthusiasm or despair.
That being said — this is an Observations post, after all — it’s worth sharing a few bullet points from the day.
- What I’m least worried about. The first-team defense was missing a starter at every level (Thompson, Smith, Sanders) and still managed to shut down the running game and generate a ton of pressure on Eason. The defense will be fine.
- What I’m most worried about. Holy crap, was the offensive line a major disappointment, or what? No push and very inconsistent pass protection looked like a rerun of 2016. (The stacked line they ran behind in the red zone that did zip was the most déjà vu moment of the day.) What made it especially so was all the happy talk coming out of practice that the offensive line was dominating the defense. Either there was a bad case of the flu that nobody mentioned or the defense was just taking it easy to boost confidence early on, but, jeez, that was not a good showing on Saturday. The odds of a true freshman cracking the two-deep jumped enormously, based on what I watched.
- Oh, yeah, he’s gonna play. I was impressed with what I saw from Jeremiah “J.J.” Holloman. Big and physical, ran routes well. He’s still got some work to do, but there’s definitely enough of a skill set there that he’ll be a contributor this season.
- Much ado about nothing? As much love as I had for Tracy Rocker, I didn’t see a drop off in the performance of the defensive line under new coach Tray Scott. Defensive line play was solid from both the first and second units. As a matter of fact, the single best play of the day I saw was John Atkins running down Brian Herrien on a run to the outside.
- Speed all over the place. I’m probably guilty of saying it every year, so take it for what it’s worth, but there were quicks all over the field. Terry Godwin, Tyler Simmons and Mecole Hardman all looked particularly good in that regard, which was part of the reason there was a lot of passing yardage on the day. I can only hope that will pay off on special teams, too.
- Inside linebacker looks stout. Smith was out, but Carter and Patrick more than held their own on the day. I still have to pinch myself every time I see an ILB make a play in pass coverage.
- Oh, yeah, they’re gonna play. Gibbs looked physically ready to play SEC ball and LeCounte was all over the field. If Smart gets significant contributions this season from three of the six early enrollees, that’s a pretty decent batting average.
- There is no quarterback controversy. Forget about it, QBR lovers. Eason was the quarterback who got stuck behind a subpar offensive line and faced the first-string secondary. It was no coincidence that when the o-line finally got some traction in pass protection in the second half, Eason came alive. (He’ll also look a helluva lot better when Chubb and Michel are on the field with him.) It was also no coincidence that Fromm feasted on a secondary that featured only one player on scholarship; against a competent cornerback, that 70-yard touchdown pass would have been intercepted.
- There is a lot to be excited about with the quarterback situation. I came away from Saturday’s game thinking that if the coaches manage it properly, Georgia could emerge with a situation I haven’t seen in ages: an organized quarterback succession involving highly regarded players. (You know, the kind of thing that makes us envious of other programs.) Eason’s physical tools are ridiculously impressive and I thought he made a noticeably improved effort going through his progressions. Yes, he’s still got some ways to go not pressing (the interception was a poor decision, to say the least, and he’s still throwing too many balls in the dirt), but he appears headed in the right direction. Fromm may have turned in the best performance I’ve seen from a true freshman quarterback at G-Day. While he doesn’t have Eason’s arm strength (who does?), he’s got enough to get the job done. He’s got a quick release and terrific pocket presence (better than Eason’s, IMO). He’s got a little of that swagger you like to see from your quarterback, too. The biggest limitation I saw from him was that he only worked half the field in his reads, but that’s something that time and experience should improve. I hate making comparisons like this, but in their own way, Eason and Fromm look like Georgia’s best pairing at the position since Greene and Shockley. Just get them a damned offensive line, please.
That’s about as far as I’ll go. Let’s open the floor up for everyone else. What did y’all see?