ATHENS – Georgia will hold it’s second controlled scrimmage of the preseason this afternoon at Sanford Stadium. And for many of the Bulldogs, this will be their most important practice of the year.
After today, Georgia will pretty much settle in on organizing its game plan for the season opener against Buffalo. But the players who will figure into those plans will largely be decided on after today.
Most of the Bulldogs’ personnel decisions have been made. We all know who the quarterback will be and, even though there were three starters to replace, the offensive line was basically established in the first week of camp.
The only real questions on the offensive side of the ball is who will start at fullback and what will the tailback rotation look like. So this is an important day for tailbacks Ken Malcome, Richard Samuel, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, as it is for right tackles John Theus and Watts Dantzler. If Samuel or freshman Quayvon Hicks going to unseat Merritt Hall at fullback, they’ll need to prove they’re worthy of it today.
“I believe we’re ahead of last year and I think that’s due to a lot of guys coming back, one being our quarterback being a third-year starter and having more knowledge of the offense,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, refeering to junior quarterback Aaron Murray. “He’s getting us into better plays, getting our protections set better and that’s making the adjustments easier for our offensive line. We’ve just got to keep improving daily and throughout the season.”
Defensively, Georgia basically has nine starters returning, so there’s not a lot of mystery about who will be playing on that side of the ball (suspensions notwithstanding). It looks like senior Cornelius Washington has nailed down the defensive end spot opposite Abry Jones, with multi-game starter Garrison Smith filling in on either side. Ray Drew needs to prove he’s worthy of being in the rotation but remained in a non-contact status due to a concussion as of the last practice. Redshirt freshman Sterling Baileyis battling for snaps as well.
Your cornerbacks after Sanders Commings are Branden Smith, Damian Swann and Malcolm Mitchell with Devin Bowman, Blake Sailors and Sheldon Dawson providing depth. Connor Norman and Corey Moore have to prove they’re dependable backups for Bacarri Rambo at free safety.
Whether or not Rambo or Alec Ogletree will be available for the first game — or any of the first four — is a question that remains unanswered and coach Mark Richt is still not ready to address it.
“I don’t know when we’ll let y’all know that,” Richt said this past weekend. “I don’t like talking about that.”
Of course, Georgia’s kicking game is the biggest unknown heading into the season. But we pretty much know who will be doing the work. Freshman place-kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber will be looking to instill confidence in the coaches — and their teammates.
Georgia’s scrimmage won’t get started until 5 o’clock this afternoon, so it will be later this evening before I’ll be able to share any stats or observations. In the meantime, what is your biggest concern with 17 days remaining before the season opener?