Good morning and happy Labor Day to you all! Hopefully you’re enjoying a day off, but if you’re not, I hope working on a holiday is made better by the knowledge that, despite all odds, we are now in the midst of a college football season.
Saturday brought us a slate of G5 games, and folks I never thought I’d be so happy to watch the UTEP Miners play football. It’s more like methadone than the real thing, but at least it’s staving off the withdrawals.
We have more football tonight! That’s coming in the form of BYU vs Navy at 8:00 pm EST. Since it’s a game between two teams with past National Championships on their resumes, tonight will feel a little more like the real thing.
The nut-punchingest brawl-starting team full of twenty-four year-olds and the triple-option being run by America’s future naval officers? Count me in on that.
(RIP to the Miami Beach Bowl, we’ll always have the memories)
When we hit Thursday we’ll have actual Power Five football with Miami vs UAB, and we will have more ACC games coming next weekend. With six ranked teams playing next Saturday, it would be fair to call it our first real slate.
Despite that good news, we are still 19 days from SEC games. While I am as ready as anyone, it is probably good that there’s still some time between now and kickoff in the Southeast. Tennessee, who was scheduled to scrimmage on Saturday, could not practice due to having 46 players out due to positive Covid tests and contact tracing from those positive tests.
While UGA hasn’t released Covid-19 numbers for the football program, Kirby Smart did speak about the virus this weekend. Georgia seems to be having more success with containing the virus than other teams in the leagues, but that could be a disadvantage if the team has an outbreak later in the season, said Smart. With numbers spiking across SEC campuses in recent weeks, the league’s decision to postpone the season to September 26th is looking smart. It will be interesting to see if the SEC invests in the rapid testing program that the PAC-12 announced it is buying into this week. Let’s hope so.
Smart’s virus comments came during a media session that followed Saturday’s scrimmage. Here were some of Smart’s takeaways from the afternoon, and other notes from the Bulldogs’ practice.
- Smart was hoping for a big leap forward between scrimmage one and scrimmage two, but he showed up to his media availability looking visibly frustrated, and not in the best of moods.
- “It was sloppy,” Smart said. “We had a lot of penalties and we didn’t tackle real well, didn’t play real well in the red area on defense. Both sides of the ball kind of, when we went ones on twos, overpowered the other one, with the ones on ones being a little more balanced.”
- The second-team defense dominated the second-team offense. Smart might not have liked that, but as a fan I’m neither shocked nor discouraged by than news. The Dawgs substitute much more on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, and with the amount of depth the Bulldogs have stacked at certain positions on defense it seems logical that they would have the edge over the second-team offense.
- The starter-on-starter periods of the scrimmage were much more balanced. The offense got the best of the defense during red-zone and second-and-10 periods, and the defense fared better over the offense when the goal was to sustain drives. After Newman’s exit on Wednesday, I’d say it’s good news that the offense is getting the best of a defensive unit that lead the country in 2019 and returns all but two starters.
- Georgia’s defense had three takeaways on the day according to observers, two of the turnovers were returned for touchdowns.
- Five-star Freshman Darnell Washington, aka “The Big 0” is down to 263 pounds after arriving at 273. I can’t wait to watch our 6’7” tight-end, y’all.
- JT Daniels and Dwan Mathis spent the afternoon splitting time with the first-team. With true freshman Carson Beck and redshirt Junior Stetson Bennett working with the second and third-teams, it appears the Bulldog’s quarterback battle is between Daniels and Mathis.
- “It’s a work in progress,” said Smart, asked to assess the quarterbacks. “We had guys today that went out and practiced well. But you really want a guy to take the lead, to assume the lead, and that really hasn’t happened. A guy will have a great play or a great series and then come back with a bonehead mistake or a turnover or something. Sounds like two young quarterbacks trying to learn a new system while practicing against the nation’s best defense to me.
- Just like last week, James Cook busted some big gains on the defense. Zamir White also looked good according to observers, delivering some punishment with his pads on some good inside runs.
- Wide-receiver Matt Landers and tight-end Tre McKitty both hobbled off the field at different points. Smart said McKitty will be fine, but no update was given on Landers.
- True-freshman Jermaine Burton was the first receiver to replace Landers, and fellow true-freshman Marcus Rosemy also made some good plays for the offense. Both players rotated in with the first-team, and if those two can grow up quick it will go a long way towards making Georgia the type of team they want to be in 2020.
Georgia only has twelve practices left before they open the season against Arkansas. With only nineteen days left until they tee it up in Fayetteville, Kirby Smart and the Georgia coaching staff have lots of personnel decisions to make. With a lot of position battles looking like close competitions at this point, you can expect to see a lot of players get snaps in the season opener.
This weekend was also the deadline for NFL teams to make the final cuts for the 53-man rosters that they will take into the season. In all, 33 bulldogs made active NFL rosters, and many more will be on practice squads.
Lastly, one former Bulldog and NFL rookie got word that he’s going to be the starter for his team when the NFL kicks off the season this weekend.