Taking stock, midseason

Chip Towers takes a look at the three position groups generally considered in the preseason to be Georgia’s weakest, the offensive line, receivers and secondary, and evaluates their performance to date.  His best grade, an A, goes to the o-line.

Status: Not only has Salyer stuck at left tackle, but he has played at an all-conference level while not allowing a sack. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Sedrick Van Pran has played extremely well since taking over at center in Ericson’s absence. And Ericson slid over to replace Ratledge at right guard, and the Bulldogs still haven’t missed a beat.

Grade: A – Georgia quarterbacks have been sacked only twice, and the run game got on track last week. Meanwhile, the O-line has depth and emerging young talent.

While I’ve been pleased with the pass pro (and the backs deserve some credit for that, too), I think he’s being a little generous with the grade there because the run blocking, as good as it was against Arkansas, hasn’t been consistent.  Also, to claim the line hasn’t missed a beat with Ericson at right guard is a stretch.  I’d probably go with a B.

Here’s how he evaluates the receiving corps:

Status: Freshmen Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey were surprise starters in the opener against No. 3 Clemson. Bowers, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end, has started every game for the Bulldogs and enters the Auburn game as Georgia’s leading receiver with 18 catches for 272 yards and four touchdowns. McConkey, a 6-foot, 185-pound slot receiver, has started three of the five contests and is the team’s third-leading receiver with 11 catches for 145 yards and a score. The Bulldogs also are getting great contributions from freshman Adonai Mitchell (9 catches, 159 yards, 1 TD), who has gotten the past three starts at the “X” position voided by Pickens and Gilbert. Meanwhile, injuries continue to limit Georgia to about seven healthy receivers and starting quarterback JT Daniels remains sidelined with a back issue.

Grade: B — The wonder is what the Bulldogs might be able to do with a full complement of receivers and a healthy starting quarterback.

I don’t want to think where this group would be without the three freshmen.  They’ve been huge so far and all you can do is wonder where things might go if some of the missing return to the field.  Fair grade, IMO.

Finally, the secondary.

Status: Kendrick has started every game at cornerback for the Bulldogs and has an interception, a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure to go along with seven tackles. Smith, favored to start at Georgia’s “Star” nickel back position, suffered a foot fracture the second week of preseason camp and still has not played in a game. But senior Latavious Brini, the heir apparent to 2020 starter Mark Webb, has played fantastic at star. He’s second among defensive backs with 15 tackles and has four pass break-ups. Senior Ameer Speed (3) and redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo (2) have split the starts at one cornerback position while the Bulldogs have been solid at safety with Lewis Cine and Christopher Smith.

Grade: I (incomplete) — Georgia has yet to play an offense ranked above 85th in pass offense. Auburn is 57th.

“Incomplete”?  Cop out.  Tykee Smith has yet to see a snap and they haven’t missed a beat at Star because Brini has continued his surprisingly stellar Peach Bowl play all season.  Ringo has taken over one cornerback spot, while Kendrick has lived up to expectations.  So have the safeties.  Georgia leads the country in defensive passer rating (a ridiculous 79.20) and that’s impressive even if you’re playing against air.  If you want to grade on a curve because of the opposition, fine, but I don’t see how this group rates worse than a B+/A- so far.

Bottom line, Georgia is where it’s at right now because all three position groups have outplayed preseason expectations to varying degrees.  Your thoughts?

31 Comments

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31 responses to “Taking stock, midseason

  1. Bulldawg Bill

    I’ll need a smoke when I get out of the shower!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Corey Carpenter

    How could our secondary rate anything less than an “A”. They scored the only TD in our first game, and have completely shut down the opposition minus Vann for USCjr. Ringo is young but will be an All-SEC player by the end of his career.

    Liked by 7 people

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. I think the DB coaching change is a factor that isn’t discussed much. Plus, Speed, Brini and Poole are all returning seniors – and that makes a big difference. It’s not as if we were rebuilding the defensive backfield with true freshmen. This is a veteran defense across the table (and the 5-star and 4-star backups aren’t slouches either).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Derek

    The front 7 (or often 6) are making it pretty damn easy on the back end.

    I wish Justin Robinson would catch the damn ball.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Biggen

    The secondary has been a surprise (in a good way). I think the pass rush is really helping out with that as it should by making opposing QBs overthrow/underthrow or not go through all their reads. We are also generally playing with big leads by the 1st/2nd quarter which leads to more predictability that our front 7 can feast on. It’s just gonna be hard to move the ball against us.

    I need to see more from the Oline. Pass pro has been great. I’m not convinced all our run blocking issues are solved although we was real good against Arky.

    The TEs have been lights out. Even the WR group has done well save for the few drops now and then. I’d give them a B+.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ApalachDawg aux Bruxelles

    If we had all of weapons at our disposal, what would there be to complain or worry about? It’s nuts to think we can still get better NOT Goff bettuh but 2 legit to quit better when all are healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jon Godfrey

    I said it early in the Clemson game after the 2nd coverage sack that our DBs must be better than we think.

    And every replay of a coverage sack from the “skycam” angle since has only confirmed it.

    Not only are opposing QBs struggling with happy feet due to our front 7 but our DBs are locked up all over the field.

    Vann was the outlier but it’s going to happen from time to time.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. akascuba

    Chip giving the secondary and incomplete grade is ridiculous when compared to their on field results. Part of the reason the teams Georgia have played grade out so poorly is because they played Georgia.

    The online has improved and the RB’s really have gotten better at blocking. This bunch has yet to face a blitz happy 8 men in the box defense. That is my concern for that group. So far a solid B+ based solely on play so far.

    The WR group what a change since Clemson. The starting freshman have certainly made a big impact. No reason not to expect continued improvement from them. It’s scary to see how thin Georgia really has been at WR/TE early season. Hopefully that changes quickly and some players get healthy soon. That’s my incomplete grade solely due to missing projected starters.

    What no mention of Pod’s kicking field goals from Chip anymore?

    Liked by 4 people

  8. moe pritchett

    Have to say I’m really proud of Ladd; he’s the wife’s cousin. Hell, everyone in damned county has lost at least three shirt buttons each!!
    Its easy to understand Pickens absence and hope he can return 100% and not miss a beat. He is probably gone after this year.
    I’d be remiss to not say I’m still very curious about Gilbert. Yes, I’m sure we all want him to be able to get things back on track for his own sake, but it’s hard not to wonder what he could be doing on the field right now. Prayers out to the kid.

    Liked by 15 people

  9. timberridgedawg

    One of this days Chip is going to pull a muscle trying to think.

    Liked by 8 people

  10. RangerRuss

    I’m not surprised those three groups rose to meet or exceed expectations. Kirby has recruited talented players and hired competent staff to train ’em up. I love it when a plan comes together.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Terry McCullers

    Secondary scores A because our front 7 scares the shit out of offenses

    Like

  12. stoopnagle

    Let’s see, we’ll gain a bit once J.T. is back behind center; Dom gets back; and then once we hit the stretch run in November, maybe Pickens, too?

    Oh, man.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Those front D lineman have been phenomenal…that’s the rock on which Kirby built this house

    Like

  14. lincolndawg

    It’s Chip Towers. That tells you all you need to know.

    Like

  15. originaluglydawg

    Not one of the units in discussion, but the ST’s are elite.
    I’m beginning to believe the whole team is elite!
    And,yeah…when we get the walking wounded back in action somebody (FTMF) is going to get curb stomped.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. ericstrattonrushchairmandamngladtomeetyou

    This D plays the best together of any UGA D I have ever seen. The DL makes the DBs better and the DBs make the DL better. And the LBs play sideline to sideline and can cover too!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Lets get serious about McConkey. He’s 5’6”, 145lbs, runs a 3.0 50 and has a 6’ vertical leap. Tom Brady has already inquired about this 14 yr old prodigy.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yeah, an A seems too high due to run blocking and I still believe Ericson is the weakest link.

    Like

  19. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Grading position groups is coaches work, and above my pay grade (and for that matter, Chip Towers’ pay grade). I always think of football as a team sport. As a team – and I think this is an objective analysis is spite of my bias – they get a solid A. Lot of test papers to be graded down the road, but so far it’s hard to find a negative that holds water. There really isn’t an area that I can seriously criticize.

    Special Teams have been special in a good way – I don’t see how they could be any better playing a game with a ball that is pointed on the ends and bounces in unpredictable ways.

    You could make a criticism about the run game, but only if you are comparing it Chubb-Michel-Swift which is patently unfair. When they need to do it, they get it done.

    Defense leads the world regardless of position groups. And what gives me a bit of chubby isn’t how talented the defense is physically, it’s how disciplined and methodical it is. They are velociraptors on the hunt, and they work in packs.

    I can’t wait for Saturday.

    Liked by 3 people

    • bcdawg97

      “…what gives me a bit of chubby isn’t how talented the defense is physically, it’s how disciplined and methodical it is. They are velociraptors on the hunt, and they work in packs.”

      And the congregation said “Amen!”

      Like