To me, it doesn’t matter that the absence of some key players due to injury likely will make Saturday’s annual G-Day game even less exciting than the usual spring intrasquad meeting.
It’s still the Georgia Bulldogs suiting up Between the Hedges, and that’s enough to make G-Day a must on my sports calendar.
Saturday’s glorified scrimmage probably won’t reveal any new wrinkles — both offense and defense are usually ultra vanilla in these affairs — but Athens should be favored with glorious spring weather and seating is first come, first served, so my brothers and I usually wind up with a vantage point around the 50-yard line.
That’s where we hope to be Saturday as we watch the Red and Black teams kick off at 3 p.m.
True, this year there aren’t any really riveting G-Day story lines like the quarterback battle between Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray two springs ago. But the coaches have divided the team up so that basically the No. 1 offense (on the Red team) will be going against the No. 1 defense (the Black team), and that ought to give us at least an indication of how things are progressing on both sides of the ball.
In last year’s G-Day game, Todd Grantham’s defense dominated — the most scintillating player on offense was borrowed from the defense: Branden Smith, who had a beautiful 28-yard touchdown catch and run — and that’s probably going to be the case again this year.
While some G-Day showings can be misleading, it was instructive last year seeing how well nose guard Kwame Geathers fared against veteran center Ben Jones. At the same time, it was somewhat alarming seeing how many whistle-sacks the No. 1 offensive line allowed, previewing a problem that continued into the regular season.
The work in progress that is the rebuilding OL will again be one of the things getting close scrutiny Saturday, along with the play of those players who’ll have to replace the suspended defenders in the first game or two this fall (unfortunately, we apparently won’t get to see Malcolm Mitchell on defense, since he’s again having hamstring trouble).
We’ll also be watching how the the tight ends perform (particularly Jay Rome), how Ray Drew looks at defensive end, the progress of this fall’s likely backup quarterback, Christian LeMay (assuming an injury to starter Aaron Murray doesn’t force Hutson Mason to forgo a planned redshirt year), and, of course, how strongly (and for how long) the frequently gimpy Isaiah Crowell runs. (Not getting to see true freshman tailback Keith Marshall because of injury is a real disappointment.)
Most of the question marks hanging over the 2012 Bulldogs won’t be answered until the fall, but G-Day will at least give us a feel for where things stand after spring practice.
If you’re not going to be joining me and about 40,000 other Dawgs fans at Sanford Stadium Saturday, you can catch the game live online through ESPN 3 or watch a tape-delayed broadcast at 5 p.m. Saturday on the CSS cable channel.
If you are planning on attending, remember that while admission is free of charge, they’ll be collecting donated canned goods for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
It might not be a “real” game, but G-day does give us an extra chance to gather in Athens and cheer our favorite team on.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg