Observations from the end zone, #not93K G-Day edition

Yeah, it was a little nippy out there last Saturday.  That aside, it’s hard to bitch about Saturday in Athens without feeling a little churlish, so I’m not gonna go there.  The game, as usual, was entertaining without being a profound look at what’s coming.

One noticeable change in vibe came from the lack of excitement at the quarterback position, something we’d been accustomed to feeling under Smart.  This year, there’s no drama — it’s Jake’s job, period.  Curiosity substituted for hype.  Maybe that’s what gave this G-Day a more relaxed feel in some ways.

There’s no point in getting in depth about things like playcalling, since the coaches didn’t, either, but this is an Observations post, so I’ve still got a few bullet points just dying to meet you:

  • Noticeable in warmups was the strength and conditioning work being put in; I don’t say that in a preseason happy talk manner, either.  There were kids all over the place who were obviously bigger than they looked last season, kids like Cook, Jackson and LeCounte, to name just a few.  The first team o-line is mammoth.
  • Again, I’m cognizant of what this must sound like, but the biggest takeaway on the day for me is the overall talent level.  It’s the highest I’ve ever seen in Athens.  Based on what I saw from other spring games, there isn’t another program in the East close to Georgia’s level right now, and very few nationally.  Stack enough stud recruiting classes and you’re bound to wind up there.  Georgia’s there.
  • The most pleasant surprise of the day was the depth in the secondary.  Stokes isn’t quite at Deandre Baker shut down level yet, but he’s getting there.  LeCounte was more physical and, better yet, did a good job wrapping up tackles.  He’s clearly been hearing what Smart’s been saying.  What really impressed, though, was what I saw from the second team.  They lined up true freshmen at one cornerback spot and safety and had a JUCO transfer man the other cornerback position.  All acquitted themselves well.  Cine is going to push for a starting spot all season long and I loved how confident Stevenson looked.  Overall, I thought the defensive backs played more aggressively than we saw last season, which is probably due to more depth, more experience and the coaching change.  Baker’s gone, but I can’t say I’m worried.
  • I don’t know that I’d call it an area of concern, but the group that stood out least Saturday was the receivers.  Some of that was due to Robertson’s last minute absence due to illness, but I didn’t get the sense that the quarterbacks are really all that comfortable with anyone past Holloman and Woerner.  Landers clearly illustrated what the scuttlebutt about him all spring has been — flashing talent, but not consistently.  He’s only going to play as much as his hands let him.  Let’s just say that I left G-Day thinking there’s plenty of opportunity available for the kids coming in this summer.
  • Jesus, is D’Andre Swift gonna have a year this year.  He didn’t play much, but he didn’t have to.  He burned a very good defense a couple of times with that patented change of direction move and he flashed his jets.  With that offensive line blocking, hoo, boy.
  • Herrien isn’t as dynamic a rusher as Swift — hell, who is? — but he showed what an effective weapon he is in the passing game.  Learn to love the wheel route this season, folks.
  • To answer the question does Georgia really field two complete offensive lines that are as good as any in the conference, I’d have to say, nah.  The left side of the second team line had issues with pass protection, and, for that matter, so did Mays when the second team defense got aggressive with the pass rush.  (Yes, Virginia, Georgia did blitz on occasion.)  That being said, there’s no question Pittman can plug and play Mays and Salyer with the first-string line without losing much.  Speaking of the first-string line, they didn’t get the opportunity to mash much (or, using the preferred expression, impose their will), but I don’t think there’s much to worry about in that regard.
  • Speaking of the offensive line, the funniest thing I saw was Clay Webb, all 6-3, 295 pounds of him, looking like the runt of the litter out there.  Talk about everything being relative.
  • As for the quarterbacks, well, while I wouldn’t say the backups dazzled, I would say they did manage to lower my anxiety level.  Mathis is physically gifted for the position with a more polished delivery than I expected.  His arm strength is more than adequate and he can run.  He’s also raw and is definitely a work in progress with regard to all the things you’d expect a true freshman quarterback with a month of practice to lack.  He’s clearly a redshirt candidate, but with the four-game rule now, I’ll be curious to see over the course of the season if the coaches pick a spot here and there to deploy his skill set.
  • I don’t know that I’d call Stetson Bennett a beast, but, all in all, he had a good day out there.  He’s bigger now than he was in his first stint, which certainly doesn’t hurt.  He displayed a nice touch on his passes and throws a very catchable ball.  (Maybe that’s why he completed the only deep ball to Landers.)  He also had my favorite play of the game, a pass to Herrien where as he was rolling out saw that Herrien had position on Dean and motioned him to go downfield a little more for the catch.  That took a little chemistry.  Do I feel like if Fromm went down with an injury, Georgia wouldn’t miss a beat with Bennett?  Can’t say that I do, but I feel okay that Bennett can run the offense competently when it comes time to take Fromm out with a decent lead.  And, no, that’s not a backhanded compliment.  Protecting Fromm this season is kind of a big deal.
  • The only thing you need to know about Fromm’s day is that he didn’t get hurt.
  • The d-line neither surprised nor disappointed, which isn’t that bad a thing to say when you consider who they were up against.  Jordan Davis had his moments, but a couple of times I did wonder about his stamina.
  • As far as the outside linebackers go, there’s a wealth of talent.  All you need to know is that Cox lined up on second team and had a disruptive, dominant second half.  Johnson made Thomas work, which is all I needed to see.  Smith is a little smaller than I thought, but, damn is he solid.  He made a great tackle on Swift.  Biggest surprise is that the one kid who doesn’t look any bigger than he was last year is Adam Anderson; he’s still got that burst, though.
  • The story at inside linebacker was Nakobe Dean, who is as quick and fluid as advertised.  He’s also a true freshman, as advertised.  Still, that physical talent says he’s going to crack the starting lineup sooner or later.  The only other ILB who made an impression on me was Monty Rice.
  • I mentioned some of the second team DBs who stood out, but the first-stringers more than held their own.  Stokes and Holloman had some epic battles all game long.  Campbell is coming on, but still gives more cushion on occasion than I like to see (and Fromm took advantage of that more than a time or two).  Reed was solid, outside of that Herrien stiff arm.  There looked like a coverage screw up on Bennett’s touchdown pass to Holloman, but when you hold an offense around six yards a pass attempt, you’ve had a good day.
  • No point in spending much time on special teams, except to mention that Rodrigo’s still got the big leg and Camarda chipped in with a nice long-distance field goal, as well.
  • Best of all, nobody got hurt.

And now, we wander in the desert for the next few months.  On that note, anything you want to add, add in the comments.



Filed under Georgia Football

32 responses to “Observations from the end zone, #not93K G-Day edition

  1. The Truth

    “Wander the desert…” Now I am depressed.


  2. Greg

    Thanks, nice synopsis. Didn’t get to see too much due to the softball game. BTW, from the pics, it looks like Herrien has put on some solid weight also. Still listed at 210 though. The “Zeus” looks to have put on a bunch too, not sure if it is good or bad….wonder what he weighs now. Really hope we get to see him get some totes this year.


  3. TXBaller

    Cox killed Salyer….a lot!


  4. Normaltown Mike

    If you don’t start posting spring game QBR’s, I’m cancelling my subscription!


    • Bulldog Joe

      QBR is so 2010.

      Havoc Rate = TFLs (Tackles For Loss) + Interceptions + PBUs (Pass Break Ups) + Forced Fumbles.

      It’s Havoc Rate now. Learn it. Love it. Live it.


    • Mikey

      I figured that G-Day QBR shit would be come from you lol but hey it’s been a topic over the years and been very debatable. So you have a point 😀


  5. Bright Idea

    Lots of athletes who are good enough to play so the coaches have their work cut out deciding who gets the snaps early. I thought perhaps so many guys playing early last year slowed progress a bit and when nut cutting time came it showed against LSU. Good problem to have.


    • 92 grad

      Agreed. I get really angry when i imagine what this team could do with Clemson’s schedule and just how fresh and powerful they would be. We are going to need every single player we’ve got to peak in December.


  6. The first team secondary impressed me. Stokes isn’t Baker, but does he really have to be for this team to get where we want? Campbell has definitely improved. If he continues, the physical attributes make the sky the limit. Mark Webb continues to impress me at the star/money position. The battle between Webb and Wilson for snaps at star (which is practically a default starting position) is going to be interesting to watch this fall. Reed and LeCounte could be one of the best safety combos in CFB this fall.

    Swift was, in a word, spectacular, and Herrien is going to get his carries as well. Cook will get touches … I wouldn’t be surprised to see him used similarly to when Swift was a freshman. Zeus looked like a full grown man on the sideline (he did look like Gurley without the dreads). with Swift, Herrien and Cook, some linebackers are going to look bad trying to cover those guys 1-on-1.

    The offensive line is going to mash people this year. I can’t wait to watch them do their thing in the fall. Pittman got a verbal from another big ugly from Texas this weekend. I can’t imagine Herman, Fisher, and Riley are pleased.

    The defensive line is still a work in progress. Some good moments but they are still not dominant.

    Most importantly, no one got hurt.


    • Otto

      I thought Herrien deserved more touches last yer especially against Texas when Swift was having a uncharacteristic bad game but that that is a post which has been previously made. I hope he gets the playing time that IMO he has has earned.

      I am curious how Cook will fight for extra yards in a real game. Sony showed a big improvement in strength in his Soph year. Cook looks bigger and is a weapon for sure. I hope he has more impact than smaller scat backs have had in the past in Athens or gets the strength to be more like the other RBs.


  7. UGA’13

    Is it just play calling or does Fromm have a real reluctance to throw to the middle of the field? Something to keep an eye on this season; I seem to remember his stats showing a strong tendency towards one boundary line (can’t remember which).


    • David K

      Yeah, his freshman year he really favored throwing to the left flat to Javon Wims in one on one matchups. Not so much last year as we didn’t really have a guy that could win those toss ups consistently.


  8. Bill Glennon

    I understand they don’t want to get people hurt, but its hard to glean much about the pass rushers, OL, or QBs when the QBs can’t be touched, Kirby also dosen’t want to put the RBs in harm’s way by running the ball, so the ILBs and DL aren’t really challenged either. Players looked big and explosive, which is good, but it dosen’t tell you much about how they are picking up their assignments and learning to play fast within the system.

    So, you have the receivers and DBs competing in the open field, which is useful for evaluation of those position groups. We’ll see.

    The one thing that concerns me is the nose tackle. Davis is good, and he is ideally a 2 down player, so maybe we can get by with his stamina issues. However, last year shows we are in trouble without a consistent, big body run stuffer. If Davis goes down, I don’t know who fills that role. I haven’t seen anything out of Netori Johnson, Rochester or anyone else that shows they can handle that job.


  9. Mikey

    Yeah it was a little nippy out there. Hell my damn toes got cold. But yeah great observations on our G-Day Game. I couldn’t have neve said it better. You always do good. You the best and I ain’t sucking up JS


  10. FlyingPeakDawg

    In the backfield I saw a real sign of intelligence, preparedness, ease with the position and someone who clearly has earned Kirby’s faith and admiration. Maria Taylor is pleasing to the eye as well. DGD!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Salty Dawg

    “…just dying to meet you…” LOL! I was dying to meet your bullet points, Senator, since ESPN pulled a dick move. Thank you for your observations and insight. Mikey is correct in saying you’re the best, and I ain’t sucking up either!


    • Mikey

      Lol… that’s classic ain’t it. Hey you and be bro we ain’t sucking up we just hear raise hell and give our opinions and have fun long has Lord Blutarsky his Grace don’t ban us 😂


  12. Section123

    It appears the G-Day date and time was based on the television broadcast. UGA softball on SEC Network and UGA baseball on SEC Alternate meant many of those who planned to watch G-Day on TV missed most of the first half. Love the other sports, but not sure who was making the broadcast decisions Saturday. Significant disappointment regarding what was missed.


    • I heard that games that count are to be the priority when cutting away. Therefore, the softball game was regularly scheduled. When it ran over, the spring game was going to take the hit.


  13. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    Think your coverage was pretty comprehensive. Biggest concern was the dropped passes. I think some of that was good pass defense but not all. Some guys just need to do a better job hanging on to the ball when it hits their hands. First time in a long time I’m not real worried about the quarterback situation. Think the biggest plus was the general atmosphere. There was some fun in the afternoon but, when the ball was snapped, it was serious. Maybe that’s what the level of competition we have for starting positions will do for you.


  14. Mikey

    His majesty might just ban us both lmao


  15. doofusdawg

    Agree. What sticks out to me is how much depth we have EVERYWHERE. If Zeus gets back and Pickens and Blaylock catch on quickly then the offense might be comparable with the defense. But man that defense.

    Will go ahead and make my scoring predictions for this year.

    Offense 37.5 Defense 14.


  16. Bulldog Joe


    Link to the full spring game broadcast can be found near the bottom of the page for those with access.

    New coordinators performed well in game situations with very few procedural penalties. ‘Twas a spirited and competitive game which aside from the officiating, was not as tricked up as the other spring games. Being down at field level, the hard wind blowing from the west was a challenge for the offenses heading into it. Football weather. Backup QBs were fun to watch. Kirby even hinted at getting Mathis some plays at receiver this year.

    We spent some time in the west end of the stadium. Lots of money invested and it looks great. Kids liked getting their photo with the granite bulldog statue.

    Saw the broadcast later. SECN kept it interesting (for a practice) and included something for everyone. Football geeks can enjoy Kirby’s commentary on a couple drives while the casual fan can relate to the challenges in officiating.

    Overall, Georgia got what it wanted and it was good for recruiting.


  17. The coverage on ESPN was pretty much unwatchable. Not surprising. They seemed to spend most of the broadcast with cutesy banter on the “celebrity” guest officials. Had to turn that mother off.
    The overview is appreciated.


    • I could not agree more. I wish they would do away with the guest officials entirely. They spent more time on them than the damn game and it made it tough to follow any players of interest.


  18. Salty Dawg

    Matt Stitchcomb needs to stop imitating Kirby. Just. Stop. Greg McElroy, I thought, was very complimentary towards GA, but they were more concerned with their colleagues officiating.