Fabulous weather. Great crowd (although color me skeptical about all the “record crowd” talk). Cold malty beverages and fried chicken at the tailgate. Athens on a Saturday.
Anyone who has a problem with spring games doesn’t have a soul.
Keep in mind this is an observations post. I can only get into the weeds so far, especially for a scrimmage with new faces, players changing teams mid-games and lots of walk-ons who I’ll probably never see step on the field outside of G-Day.
That being said, on to the bullet points.
- The quarterbacks. Well, what do you know? The coaches weren’t blowing smoke up our collective asses. None of the three candidates have taken control of the job, which isn’t to say there’s not a favorite. I suspect pretty strongly that Richt and Schottenheimer would like for Ramsey to step up and put the other two away. He is the most physically gifted thrower of the three, and it’s not really close. His two bombs to McKenzie and Davis were picture perfect and close to effortless. Deploying that arm would restore a part of the offense that went missing last season, the deep pass threat, that they would clearly like to have in the holster. But… Ramsey’s footwork and his judgment are still works in progress. He stared down receivers way too much for my liking. And that’s why Bauta is still legitimately in the picture. He worked his checkdowns. He looked calm in the pocket. He doesn’t have Ramsey’s arm, true, but he’s got enough to make things work. If the coaches could combine Ramsey’s arm with Bauta’s brain, they’d have their starting quarterback today. Park was Park. He’s got skills, but he’s also got issues with timing and his receivers, most noticeably on a couple of throws with Scott-Wesley that simply didn’t look right. He had a funky handoff with Turman that led to a fumble. His interception, the only one of the day, came off a throw he probably shouldn’t have made. Bottom line, those saying there’s a two-man race right now ain’t lying. The best thing I can say about the situation is that it’s not hopeless. There’s an SEC-caliber quarterback among the three; it’s up to Schottenheimer to coax that out of one of them.
- The offensive line. The best news is that there’s legitimate depth for the first time in ages. The second string offensive line looked better than I’ve seen the number twos look in a spring game in a long while. At center, Wynn looked shaky on that bad snap, but otherwise didn’t embarrass himself. He’s got a summer to keep working, which can’t hurt. The downer is that I saw the old bugaboo, handling the speed rush, troubling the tackles on more than one occasion.
- The running backs. If you were wondering, A.J. Turman showed he can play. He ran with authority and showed a nice burst on his long touchdown run. As nice as that was, it paled in comparison to Chubb’s man-among-boys 17-yarder. The only thing to worry about in this department is health.
- The receivers. Speaking of which, oh, boy. Thin to start with, McKenzie’s and Mitchell’s early departures due to injuries made a bad situation worse. In McKenzie’s case, that’s a real shame, because he clearly flashed the improvement Richt gushed about at the presser following the previous scrimmage. Behind them? Davis looked good getting open on Ramsey’s 60-yard toss. Scott-Wesley looks like he knows what he’s doing out there, but doesn’t look to me like he’s regained all his speed. Help comes in August, which is good, but I’m afraid we’re going to be holding our breaths here about health and depth until we see if any of the newbies can contribute in a hurry.
- The tight ends. Here, on the other hand, depth isn’t a problem. Jackson already looks like a college player and Jordan Davis stepped up and played well. Add in Rome and Blazevich, and there’s plenty to work with.
- The offensive coordinator. You can stop freaking out now. The playcalling was vanilla. But it was also familiar. Chubb being protected and the quarterback battle meant that Schottenheimer was going to throw a fair amount, but you could tell the running game is still the bedrock of the offense. Schottenheimer likes his tight ends, something I’m not going to complain about, but he was willing to take deep shots, too. And I saw enough progression with the quarterbacks, particularly Bauta, to think he’s going to be fine as a position coach.
- The defensive line. All in all, not bad. Outside of those two big touchdown runs, both d-lines didn’t look too overmatched playing the run.
- The outside linebackers. Holy crap. This position is going to be ridiculously good this year. Carter and Jenkins pretty much had their way all day on the pass rush and they were far from alone. And when Floyd and Bellamy return? Hoo, boy.
- The inside linebackers. With the running cut back, these guys may not have gotten as much of a chance to shine as they would have liked, but there was some solid play. Ganus got screwed on what should have been a quarterback sack, but otherwise had a quiet game. Carter and Kimbrough looked solid. There were a lot of completions underneath to fullbacks and tight ends, so that’s still something that bears watching.
- The secondary. Depth remains a concern here, although I like what I saw out of the two early enrollees from Mississippi. McKenzie knifed through the coverage on his TD reception, but out of the slot, that’s gonna happen. I can’t say I’m overly concerned as of yet, though, for three reasons: (1) Pruitt; (2) help on the way in August; and (3) what’s likely to be a more than stout pass rush.
- Special teams. Other than the kickers, there wasn’t any. And the kickers didn’t exactly show out. I’ll chalk Morgan’s miss up to new holder issues, but Colin Barber doesn’t have that excuse to fall back on in explaining a mediocre day. Two scores on Saturday were set up with poor punts – at G-Day, nobody cares all that much, but against a conference foe, that stuff will come back to bite you.
Overall, my biggest impression of the day is that the athleticism and speed of the front defensive seven is the best it’s ever been in Richt’s tenure. And in the hands of a competent defensive coordinator, that can cure a lot of secondary ills. I think we’re going to enjoy watching Georgia play defense this season.
I’ve taped the replay, so I’ll watch that sometime during the week and share anything I glean from it that’s noteworthy. In the meantime, feel free to chime in with what you saw.