You know, it’s one thing to gloss over the breathless hype of the recruiting sites or to count the stars in the 247Sports Composite. It’s quite another to see the aggregation of talent Kirby Smart has to deploy at his fingertips. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
That’s my takeaway from a brutally hot day in Sanford Stadium (and bless whomever had a hand in the mercifully sensible decision to shorten the fourth quarter by five minutes). In a game when the Dawgs’ offensive line play was sluggish — and with the weather, that was understandable — it seemed like every time the offense was on the verge of bogging down, there was a skill position player to step up and make a big play.
The story was similar on defense, as the middle of the line wasn’t at its best, but the outside speed cleaned up a lot of problems. As far as special teams go, if you were worried about Nizialek’s departure, don’t be. Camarda appears to have a bigger leg.
I’m not here to say Georgia looks like it’s ready to scale even greater heights this season than it did in 2017, but it sure as hell looks like Kirby’s carrying a loaded toolbox.
On to the bullet points:
- Lining Robertson up next to Hardman in the slot is going to make more than a few defensive coordinators’ sphincters tighten this year.
- Likewise, Cook coming out of the backfield on a wheel route is going to be a matchup nightmare. (Too bad that won’t happen in the first half in Columbia.)
- Yeah, Chaney played it vanilla. We may have seen more swing passes yesterday than we’ll see in the next two or three games, combined. And the one thing you would have thought would be a no-brainer — testing AP’s secondary deep with all that receiving speed — never happened.
- There are plenty of receiving options, too. I thought I counted at least ten different players with catches, but I may have lost count.
- D’Andre Swift makes it look easy, doesn’t he?
- The game may have made it especially convenient to do so, but I thought the coaches did a good job handling the quarterbacks. Fromm had one bad read when he tried to force a ball downfield into double coverage, but otherwise looked smooth. Fields is gonna be a handful down the road, but he seemed a little too wired at the start, quickly bailing on a pass play to run if the first read wasn’t there. He did settle down after he got his feet wet and made a nice throw for his touchdown pass.
- Pass protection was fine, for the most part, especially considering that AP’s best defensive player is an outside lineman who rushes the quarterback well. Run blocking, on the other hand, left something to be desired too often for my taste. I didn’t think either starting tackle dominated — in fact, a few times it appeared they never got a block down. That being said, the overall deeper bench I hoped to see looks like it’s there.
- Touchdown pass to Nauta. I hope that doesn’t use up his quota for the year.
- On defense, my biggest concern about replacing Roquan Smith turned out to be pass coverage from the ILBs. AP may not have been the biggest test in the world for that, but I didn’t see anybody who looked ready to step up in that regard.
- The middle of the d-line gave up more ground than I was expecting.
- Terrific speed from the young OLBs, Cox and Anderson. The latter made a play in the second half that showed great instincts.
- Walter Grant shocked me by losing contain a couple of times. I never saw that from him last season.
- AP didn’t really have much of a passing game, so it’s hard to judge the secondary, but there’s little doubt that Campbell looks the part of a big-time cornerback — size, good speed, ability to change direction and a willingness to mix it up playing the run. Still, true freshman’s gonna true freshman. It was fun watching Kirby coach him up after a play to the sideline.
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but did Austin Peay attempt a single throw Deandre Baker’s way?
- Saw some good production from the safeties, including Gibbs. Best single play I saw from the group came from Otis Reese, who tracked a receiver across the field to make an unassisted tackle. He’s a keeper.
- Tucker kept things just as vanilla as Chaney did. I suspect that changes this week.
- Special teams? Rodrigo is Rodrigo: nothing but touchbacks and perfection on extra points and one field goal. Camarda unveiled a big leg, but I suspect Kirby wants a little more touch, as two of his bombs wound up being touchbacks. One area of concern was rather poor support on punt returns. Granted, there wasn’t a need to take chances, but there was never any room for Hardman or Crumpton. You don’t want to waste weapons like that if you’ve got ’em.
- I suspect this is the perfect kind of cupcake opener for Kirby. Nobody got hurt, the team looked like it’s full of potential, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Taking care of business is kind of boring, especially on a furnace of a day. Now, it’s on to the next furnace… oops, game.