Category Archives: Georgia Football

“I just listen and hike it.”

One of my favorite colloquialisms from Jim Bouton’s epic Ball Four was the compliment “he wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful”.

Brandon Kublanow is that kind of guy, bless his heart.  If the ship sinks, it won’t be because of his lips.

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Run the damned ball, somebody.

If we’re starting to get some kind of idea about where the coaches are going with the quarterbacks, I can’t say I have the same amount of confidence in knowing which of the running backs are going to get significant carries against North Carolina.  Yesterday, we learned that Elijah Holyfield’s ankle injury isn’t particularly serious.

Smart said Monday night on 960 The Ref that “it’s not a major ankle (injury), it’s not a high ankle. It’s not as bad as (tight end) Charlie Woerner’s was. We think he’ll be back by the end of the week. He’s out there pushing on it right now. It’s not a major deal.”

Buuuut… Smart also had this to say.

Later he said Holyfield is doing well in camp but is not expected to get a lot of carries in the opening game.

Hmmm.  I don’t know if that’s because the injury set him back, because Smart doesn’t trust true freshmen running backs, or something else.  But when you add in Michel’s status,

Smart on Monday night gave the Athens Touchdown Club an update on Michel’s status:

“Sony’s doing all he can,” he said. “There’s only so much that Sony can do himself. The bone’s got to heal. The doctor’s have got to feel comfortable that he’s safe to put himself out there and be able to play with that injury that’s recovered. …It’s more about putting pressure on that arm and that’s just going to be a matter of time.”

Smart said he didn’t know if Michel will be available for the opener against North Carolina on Sept. 3.

… you have to wonder if Chubb will be getting a lot more carries than anyone anticipated.  Could be interesting…

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Kirby gets ready for the opener.

Although it sounds like he’s more worried about the media right now than North Carolina.

Smart suggested later when speaking to the Touchdown Club meeting that he may keep the starter under wraps in the lead up to the Sept. 3 opener against North Carolina the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.

“Here’s my question, just because we don’t announce one does that mean there’s not one?” said Smart, who prefaced his comments by saying that there was media in the audience, indicating he would tread carefully with what he said “My thing is I’m sitting here thinking what does North Carolina want to know? Why should I give them information? They’re not giving me information. I’m not going to give them information. That’s not in the protocol for us. We’ll do what we think is best to not only win this game but help the future of this program and also develop our players and out team for this year.”

Dude, no offense, but I don’t think Gene Chizik is that consumed with trying to figure out which of your three non-running quarterbacks winds up being anointed to run your pro-style offense.  (How many carries you intend to give Nick Chubb is an entirely different story.)  On the other hand, not letting the media in on what you’re thinking… well, Saban’s Coke bottle approves.

The funny thing is that Smart made other comments yesterday that would indicate he and Chaney have begun making some initial decisions about the quarterbacks.

… “I wish I knew the answer to that. We’ve watched a lot of video from the scrimmage and we’re trying to make a determination after the scrimmage. We need to start getting two guys ready. I think it’s hard once you start getting more than two quarterbacks ready. We’ve got some guys who have looked good during camp. But to answer your question, I don’t know the answer to that.”

And so it went. To his credit, Smart had given fair warning. “Since there’s media in the audience tonight, y’all will be getting their treatment,” he said.

But actually, the admission that they’ll be paring the quarterback race down from three to two was somewhat of a revelation, though Smart had hinted often that would likely be the case. He said he and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney met all day Monday about the quarterbacks and other personnel matters.

Based on other comments throughout the night and in a radio interview conducted shortly before his speech, it seems likely those final two will be fifth-year senior Greyson Lambert and true freshman Jacob Eason. Late during his half-hour-plus remarks, Smart included Eason in his breakdown of freshmen or first-year players who are currently in the two-deep. And beforehand he told David Johnston of Athens radio station WRFC-AM 960 The Ref that Lambert’s experience is “very valuable at that position to help in these games,” referring specifically the Sept. 3 nationally-televised matchup against North Carolina.

Actually, there is a non-flippant, very fair point to be made in Kirby’s favor.  In fact, he made it.

“We’ve watched a lot of the tape and we’re trying to get things where we can get the reps more focused,” Smart said on the radio. “Jim (Chaney) and I talked a long time today about it and we’ll continue to do that tomorrow. We’re going to visit with the quarterbacks and let them know how we plan to practice going forward. I reserve the right to kind of talk to them first before we kind of talk about anything publicly.”

As he should.  In any event, it sounds like changes are coming this week.

Smart said “we’re going to start getting more quality reps for guys and getting the right ones. It’s just a matter of how much we do. It won’t be one-third, one-third, one third anymore.”

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UPDATE:  Here’s the link to Kirby’s radio interview.

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Let’s hear it for the Class of 2016.

Kirby really, really loves them.

Or needs them.

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Is the opener Nick Chubb’s game to lose?

If you want to do a little pondering about Georgia’s opener, Ian Boyd has a nice piece up you might want to read about two key matchups.  In his mind, they are:

  1. How will Trubisky fare against a Nick Saban-style defense?
  2. Can Chubb break Gene Chizik’s defense?

On point one, it’s hard to judge.  By most accounts I’ve read, Trubisky has an excellent arm and good grasp of Fedora’s offense, but isn’t a runner.  So I can’t say how much he’ll be able to sell being a true run threat.  The video clips Boyd includes show Trubisky operating in blow out situations against second-string defenses — hey, that’s the life of the backup quarterback, right? — so it’s difficult to translate those performances over to what we might expect against a defense that Boyd characterizes as one that “will be more talented than any non-Clemson unit the Tar Heels faced last year, and it’ll also be harder to read and attack…”

But if I’m Fedora, knowing what I know from watching Smart’s defenses struggling to cope with handling Auburn’s running QBs and Deshaun Watson, I’ve gotta try at least.

On the flip side, if I’m Kirby Smart, I’m gonna try to mask the state of Chubb’s health as long as I can, and if he’s healthy, let the big dog eat on a run defense that left a lot to be desired last season.

In the former Auburn coach’s first year as the defensive coordinator, North Carolina didn’t do well. The Heels finished 67th in the nation in Defensive S&P+ and concluded the year with an embarrassing performance against Baylor in a bowl game, when they yielded 645 rushing yards.

If reading between the lines you assume that the play of both of Georgia’s fronts will have a big impact on the game’s outcome, you and I are on the same page… not that that’s a really deep insight.  But the funny thing is that you read Boyd’s post and realize afterwards that he only mentions Georgia’s quarterback situation in passing.

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“We’ve got a plan in our mind.”

As we’ve all heard, Kirby’s let Jacob Eason run with the ones this week.  And for all the hyperventilating about whether that means Eason’s been anointed as the starter, and the speculation about how Smart’s trying to be coy to keep the upperclassmen from transferring, I think there’s a larger point that’s been overlooked.

Freshman Jacob Eason got more first team work this week (while also spending more time with the second team and less with the third). Smart said that was to get more practice reps with the starters since he didn’t go with the No. 1 unit at all in the spring.

“It was a situation where we wanted to try catch him up and evaluate him and get him more reps so we could continue to evaluate the other two and the other two would continue to go but they would also be with the threes some,” Smart said.

The five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Wash., showed that “he’s growing as a player,” Smart said. “Just the cumulative effect of the reps, it doesn’t matter what offense you’re in, the fact that the other two have been in a college system for three and four years, it puts them in an advantage from the standpoint of dropping back and making decisions, seeing coverages. We’re trying to catch him up to speed and get him some reps and find out what he can do. How he’s responded, I think he’s done a good job of responding to it. He’s had an opportunity to make more plays and also an opportunity to make more mistakes. He’s done both. He’s got to continue to improve there.”

Quite simply, the coaches know that reps matter.  And in and of itself, that attitude is a vast improvement over what the quarterbacks were saddled with all of last season.

“We’ll continue to go down this quarterback road until we figure it out,” Smart said. “I can’t tell you anything, update you right now because I want to reserve judgment until I watch the tape like last time.”

I don’t profess to know who gets the final nod, or even who gets weeded out soon, but I feel pretty good about where the coaches appear to be headed.  If nothing else, that’s a reason to feel more optimistic about where 2016 is starting over where 2015 finished.

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Random notes from a wet scrimmage

Just a few odds and ends to pick at:

  • They changed officiating crews yesterday, and Nick Chubb got his ass tackled to the ground, much to the pleasure of his head coach. “He’s doing a good job. Nick’s a workhorse,” Smart said. “He works hard at it. It was wet out there. It’s tough to have a lot of speed and burst in that environment but a lot of times it’s not the fastest guy. It’s the guy who can stay on balance and body control.”
  • Not so much for Sony Michel:  “It’s a situation that’s in the medical hands,” Smart said. “There probably is a date where we would say `Hey, we need to know something by,’ but it’s not like Sony hasn’t played football. The biggest thing for him is going to be ball-security.”
  • Elijah Holyfield joined the ranks of the wounded, damn it.
  • Roquan Smith is making a move. You’ll have to pardon me if I feel a little giddy about the prospect of playing an ILB who’s not a liability in pass coverage.
  • Giddy is not how I feel about the state of the place kicking team.

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