Alrighty, then. Hard to screw up a day in Athens with perfect spring weather, and the good news is that, except for the ass in the parking lot who thought it was great to blast — and I do mean blast — a lot of mediocre tuneage through his twin-speaker PA system, complete with DJ commentary, nobody did.
That includes the athletic department with its pass system that wound up doing nothing more than what was promised, namely, keeping track of where fans entered the stadium. We showed up a couple of hours early and had no problem finding seats to our liking and in general, admission appeared to be an orderly process. As much bitching as I do about things, it’s only fair to point out when they do no harm and such was the case there.
As for the game itself, it’s not hard to avoid drawing dramatic conclusions. Smart wanted to emphasize the passing game and we were treated to an aerial display it’s very unlikely we’ll see matched during the season. Given the walking wounded at running back and the opportunity to watch Justin Fields, I can’t complain as a spectator, but the after the fact analysis shouldn’t be looked at as etched in stone.
Still, this is an Observations post. And with Observations, you get bullet points.
- Kirby, you naughty boy. After teasing us with comments all spring about how the offense was ahead of the defense and how we ought to expect a G-Day shootout, we got treated to a defensive display that, quite frankly, leads me to state for the record that I’m not worried about the first-team defense this season.
- Breaking that down a little, in the secondary, LeCounte (man, he’s fast!) and Reed looked mostly great at safety, Poole showed me something at the Star position and Baker, no surprise, looks like a lock for All-SEC honors. McGhee had his moments, although giving up the bomb wasn’t one of them. Overall, it was a group that won more battles than it lost.
- Inside linebacker? Well, Natrez looked solid at second team, but the revelation was Monty Rice, whose name was called all day long, it seemed. My one negative observation was that Nate McBride’s gonna have to work on his tackling technique.
- Outside linebackers are going to be the strength of the defense. Tons of depth and talent. There’s something to the spring hype for Cox. Tucker should have a lot of moving parts to mix and match for situational purposes.
- The defense line was for the most part solid, if not spectacular. If there’s a concern there, it’s that they seem to be missing that ability to penetrate and disrupt that Trent Thompson could bring.
- Two things to pick on, defensively speaking: nobody seemed to cover the backs coming out of the backfield on swing passes. Herrien made a living on it all day, Hudson did well and Holyfield should have. Second, as much as I liked out of the safeties, I saw them get beat on deep throws several times because of late reactions. Given how last season ended, that’s something I’d rather not have observed.
- It’s hard to judge the offensive line’s effort because of the spring game sack rule, but I will say it’s impressive how huge that first-team line looked. Isaiah Wilson is a massive dude who can move well for a tackle. Cleveland hasn’t gotten any smaller and Kindley is no midget, either. If you were worried, Andrew Thomas already looks comfortable manning the left tackle position.
- It wasn’t a day when the running game was emphasized, so, again, the most impressive thing I saw out of that bunch was how well Herrien did as a receiver. Were I an opposing defensive coordinator watching the spring game tape, it’s one thing I’d file in the back of my head for future reference.
- If there’s any area to take away some real hope for, it’s the receiving corps, which looks to have developed some depth. No, the starting three of Godwin, Hardman and Ridley aren’t going anywhere, but Crumpton has really come on as someone who can make a tough catch. Landers wasn’t as consistent as I’d like, but his touchdown reception was as good as you can do in that setting. If he can keep that up, he’ll definitely be a real weapon in the red zone. As far as the starting three go, Ridley looks like he’s really absorbed the confidence that came from stepping up in the national title game.
- The tight ends played. They even caught a couple of passes.
- And that brings us to the quarterbacks. No, it wasn’t one of Fromm’s better afternoons, but so what? His day would have looked better if a couple of deep throws hadn’t been dropped. On the other hand, some of those throws were what the professionals call “ill-advised”. I’m not sure how much of that was being perhaps a little nonchalant in a spring game scrimmage and how much of that came from a game plan that over-emphasized the passing game, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over his day. One big reason for that was watching the 57-yarder to Ridley open up on the pattern, seeing Jake recognize it and make the on-the-money toss. I suspect there will be more of those coming.
- I was excited by Fields’ showing. Not in the “OMG!!!, he’s taking Fromm’s job!” sense, but, rather in terms of seeing all that talent and potential already being coached up. He wasn’t perfect by any means, or even dominant, but he wasn’t rattled, made his share of checkdowns and can definitely hurt a defense with his legs. He’s got a live arm that looks easy throwing. His throw to Landers for his first touchdown was a real beauty, perfectly placed. Yes, there is a reason to curb your enthusiasm a tad because he was working against the second team defense and a notable drop off in effectiveness in the secondary. Still, Jim Chaney has to be salivating over what Fields can do with the RPO portion of Georgia’s playbook. Bottom line: there’s no way this kid is redshirting.
- Because I know somebody’s gonna ask, it was fun watching Stetson Bennett, but, yes, he’s definitely on the slight side. He’s got a decent arm and has some mobility, which is a good thing, because I worry he’s going to get snapped in two by an SEC defensive lineman one day if he gets caught.
- You couldn’t tell much from special teams, but Marshall Long still has a long way to go in terms of recovering his ability to punt. There will be a battle at punter come August.
That’s all I’ve got. It’s a long ways to September 1st, and we’re all just gonna have to suck it up until then.