Some of the up and coming Bulldogs, in addition to ones that fans are quite familiar with, got their big moment in front of the Bulldog Nation on Saturday afternoon during G-Day.
All in all, it was a mix of the good and bad on both sides of the ball and in the end, the Black Team quarterbacked by Justin Fields, prevailed 21-13.
Spring games can be a funny thing. For fans, they serve as the sliver of hope, something the help get fans through an offseason. For coaches, they may as well be another practice, another opportunity to evaluate players up and down the roster.
If you’re a fan of ground and pound offense, Saturday was probably not in your wheelhouse. Both sides combined for 93 rushing yards, the leading ground gainer being walk-on Prather Hudson with 40 yards and a two-yard touchdown. The lack of running, however, was planned, as Smart explained on Saturday.
‘’Everybody will ask me about the rushing yards and if we have a rushing problem. If you watched that game closely, you realize there was not an intent to rush the ball a bunch,” Smart said. “We think we have the capabilities of doing that, but that is not the purpose of our Spring Game. It’s to throw the ball, catch the ball, gain confidence in our passing game.”
In a lot of ways, the day resembled more of a seven-on-seven passing league game. A combined 81 passing plays were called compared to 40 running plays.
Georgia’s defense was challenged publicly during spring game by Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, and the defensive unit appeared to take that to heart. There were two interceptions of Jake Fromm, one being Deandre Baker’s pick-six and another by William Poole. KJ Smith picked off Fields with Richard Lecounte snagging a Mecole Hardman pass for an interception as well.
Also, a total of 11 credit sacks were credit to the defense.
David Marshall, D’Andre Walker and Keyon Brown each had two in the format in which quarterbacks were called down by game officials instead of being tackled to the ground, an measure put in place to avoid injuries to the quarterbacks.
“Our defense did a really good job of creating turnovers,” Smart said. “Two of them were gifts, but we got more turnovers today than we had gotten really all spring. Some of the red guys started to bow their necks.”
From the quarterback standpoint, both Fromm and Fields did some good things. Neither lit things up - and you don’t really want to see that - if they did, it would mean Georgia’s defense is suddenly porous.
Fields was 18-of-33 for 207 yards with an interception and a touchdown while also engineering scoring drives of 70 and 45 yards, the latter capped off by a 15-yard pass to Matt Landers in the corner of the end zone.
Fromm was 19-of-38 for 200 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown to Riley Ridley of 57 yards. Fromm nearly had two more scores in the first half, but long would-be touchdown passes to both Ridley and Jayson Stanley were dropped.
All in all, the game finished off a spring practice in which the team felt like it got better and made strides toward strengthening its leadership.
But as always, there is hardly an attitude of contentment permeating from the program.