This story was updated on Saturday evening with new info from today’s practice and further clarity on a couple players…
Spring Practice is reaching full swing in Athens, as Georgia’s coaches try to make the most out of the 14 practices they get with their players before the annual G-Day game in Sanford Stadium on April 16th.
Sources caught DawgSports up on the latest developments…
As DawgsHQ first reported, Carson Beck has been getting first team reps this spring. DawgSports reached out to sources to get more details on what’s been happening in the QB room through the first couple weeks of spring practice.
At UGA’s Friday practice session the QB rotation looked like this…
1’s- Beck, 2’s- Bennett, 3’s- Vandagriff
Friday’s practice was more of a walk through, but Carson Beck getting the majority of the first team snaps in a practice has happened more than once so far this Spring. I’ve been hearing rave reviews on Beck recently from sources who are at practice, and it appears that Georgia’s staff is using this time to get a better idea of what they have in Beck.
I’m told that Beck has made some “wow throws” so far this spring, one being a frozen rope into double coverage to Arian Smith. There is a lot of practices between now and September, but everyone I’ve talked to who has watched practice says that this is a real quarterback competition.
“Beck is making his push,” said one source who has watched Georgia’s spring practices. “He has looked way better this Spring than he has at anytime we’ve seen him on the field in his career. He stands in the pocket well, makes his reads, and does not seem flustered. There seems to be an increase to his focus. His physical presence makes him look the part of a high-level SEC quarterback, and his body language exudes confidence right now. His communication with the skill players around him has matured. It is calm but direct. He seems to have a really good rapport with AD Mitchell in particular.”
It hasn’t been all good for Beck though. He did throw an interception in a team drill on Thursday. Smart has mentioned previously that Stetson Bennett has “banked a lot of reps,” during his Georgia career, so this might be a case of trying to give the QB room a deeper look. That being said, the staff has elected to pull Bennett from 1st team during drills in favor of Beck at times in the last couple of weeks. On at least one instance this week, Beck was subbed into the first unit after Bennett made a poor play. Some observers feel the pressure from Beck has caused Bennett to press at times.
Only time will tell if Beck can put serious pressure on Bennett for the starting job, but right now he is executing in an impressive way. G-Day should be interesting.
Brock Vandagriff has been third in line in drills, but there has been a lot of buzz about his shortened release. His accuracy has been more consistent on a throw by throw basis, and he continues to get sharper from an execution standpoint. I’m told he made a nice throw to AD Mitchell down the sideline in a recent drill.
I haven’t heard much of anything about early enrollee Gunner Stockton other than he is adjusting to college football and the staff has him focusing on details and learning the offense.
The QB’s all had a turn to run an end of game simulation drill at Thursday’s practice. I’m told Beck and Vandagriff both got the offense into range for converted FG’s. Bennett struggled and left the offense short, resulting in a long FG attempt that was blocked.
Kenny McIntosh has ridden the strong performances down the stretch of the season into taking the majority of the reps with the first team. I’m told Kendall Milton has been taking second team reps, but that he and McIntosh are a true 1A/1B at running back.
Sources have raved about the potential of McIntosh and Milton in 2022. “Kendall looks even bigger than before. I mean he is straight up yolked. They both get first team reps but Kenny leads it off. That KM duo is just different,” said one observer.
Barring any unforeseen developments, McIntosh and Milton are going to be the top two touch getters in 2022. I’m told that Milton looks even more bulked up than before, which is a scary thought for SEC defenses. If he can stay healthy then watch out.
Daijun Edwards is the solid third guy in the rotation right now. I’m told he looks impressive and has made the most out of his reps so far this spring.
- Everyone I have talked to who has watched practices recently has made a point to mention how impressive new WR coach Bryan McClendon is. He’s detail oriented, and I’m told that he and Monken have put a ton of focus on technique and route concepts so far.
- If you’ve read any reports on UGA’s receivers this spring then you’ve probably heard that AD Mitchell has stood out. Over the last couple weeks he has separated from the rest of the pack and established himself as the #1 guy in that room. I’m told he has been playing mostly at the X position where we saw him last season, but he has also taken some reps as the Z receiver as well. He is always at the boundary, and has been making a ton of highlight grabs.
- Ladd McConkey played a lot of Z receiver down the stretch of last season, splitting snaps at the position with Jermaine Burton at times. This spring he appears to be getting a lot more work in the slot, and I’m told he looks even quicker than before.
- Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint has been turning some heads. Right now he has been first up as the Z receiver with the #1 unit in practice. I was told by one source that he looks healthier and faster than last season and is fully back from his broken leg. He will be a deep threat no one considers.
- Arian Smith has had a ton of wow moments so far. He is still in the no contact jersey, but he has been making some impressive catches over the middle. He ran by a DB and a Safety so quickly in a recent practice that he was 7 yards behind the defense by the time the ball was in the air. Smith has been spending time rotating with the 1’s and 2’s so far.
- Jackson Meeks is also getting first team looks at the Z receiver spot. I haven’t heard about any specific highlight plays with him yet, but I will let you guys know when I do. I know he flashed at points in practice in 2021 and the staff is excited by his potential.
- Dominick Blaylock is looking healthy and running with the 2nd team. He is getting a lot of work in the slot and looks more and more like he did in 2019 by the week. The vibe right now is that he could be a solid contributor in 2022.
- I haven’t heard a ton of details about Kearis Jackson’s on field play. What I did hear rave reviews about was his leadership in practice. I’m told AD Mitchell missed a pass in a recent practice and removed his helmet in frustration, drawing a penalty flag. Jackson was the first one to calm him down and offer him encouragement when he came back to the group. This WR room is young but talented. Jackson’s leadership could be key in helping some of these young guys along.
- I continue to hear good things about De’Nylon Morrissette. He’s a strong route runner for a true freshman and he is going to push hard for a spot in the WR rotation. Don’t be surprised if he plays meaningful snaps in 2022.
- I’m told CJ Smith is in a no contact jersey and has been wearing some sort of a brace on his leg.
- Brett Seither has been running with the first team the most when the offense uses a TE. With the position being thin this spring, Georgia has taken a lot of reps out of sets without a TE.
- Arik Gilbert is getting rave reviews. He is engaged and is grasping the scheme very well. I’m told he has done a really good job when asked to block at TE. He has made some highlight grabs in traffic as well, and one of them would have gone for a touchdown if he hadn’t been called down. He has been taking reps as a stand-up Y and also as an inline TE.
I’ve talked to a few observers who said that Gilbert is an even more impressive athlete than they expected. “Arik… Oh my goodness, man. I saw him play in person in the past but he looks like he is in better shape than he ever was at LSU. He is quick enough to play that X receiver position if that’s where they want him to be down the road.”
- Everyone comments on how smooth Oscar Delp is for his size. One source who observed recent practices called him “Baby Bowers.”
The offensive line has been maybe the most impressive unit so far this spring. Right now the lineups look like this from left to right most often.
1’s- Broderick Jones, Xavier Truss, Sedrick Van Pran, Devin Willock, Warren McClendon
2’s- Earnest Greene, Micah Morris, Warren Ericson, Austin Blake, Chad Lindberg
I wouldn’t overreact to these lineups. UGA is playing around with lots of different groupings right now up front. Ericson and true freshman Earnest Greene have had some first team reps at guard as well, but I’m told that both have been running with the 2’s more often than not in drills.
Everyone I have talked to is raving about the blend of size and athleticism this OL group has. I know that sounds a bit cliche, but when pressed sources were adamant that they expect this group to be special in 2022. There is a ton of depth there. The push that the interior trio of Truss, Van Pran, and Willock are capable of getting when run blocking is impressive.
Tate Ratledge still isn’t practicing as he recovers from the foot injury he suffered versus Clemson.
Update: Many of you asked about Amarius Mims after this was posted so I checked around. I’m told he is in concussion protocol right now but was working at Guard and Tackle prior to the injury. He is taking ““mental reps.”
- Christopher Smith hardly ever rotates out of drills when the first unit is in. He isn’t letting go of his starting spot. Lots of sources who have been at practices recently said that Smith has been a very vocal leader and helps out with the calls on defense.
- Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith play the strong side together, and Ringo always matches with a lone WR or WR1. Ringo has looked good so far this spring. He is DB1 by a wide margin.
- Dan Jackson has been getting the most reps at the FS spot opposite of Smith. I’m told he is playing a step faster.
- Kamari Lassiter is another guy who has been getting looks at safety. He has been moving around and playing some DB as well.
- David Daniel has been in the safety rotation as well.
- William Poole has been in the same slot corner/Star role where he excelled against Alabama in the National Championship. I’m told that he has held his own when left alone in man coverage.
- Javon Bullard has been getting reps at Star also behind Poole.
- Nyland Green has really started to come on. Right now he is seeing a lot of first team reps at the other DB position opposite Ringo, but there is a lot of young talent capable of pushing him for that spot if they can learn the scheme quickly enough.
- Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Robert Beal pretty much never rotate out. Their positions are solidified. Besides those three, I’ve been told the rest of the front seven is rotating more than any other position group right now.
- Nolan Smith and Robert Beal have embraced being veteran leaders. There is a strong bond between the two, and they are both shouting out defensive calls and communicating with the rest of the unit. I’m told there have been many instances where they will correct a teammate before new OLB coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe gets to the player. They are an extension of the coaching staff and help set the tone for the entire team.
- Chaz Chambliss is getting a lot of run with the second team. He will be one of the first off the bench when Smith and Beal rotate out. The staff likes his pass rush ability. Expect him to be a contributor on Special Teams again as well.
- MJ Sherman is getting work in non-contact activities. I haven’t heard a ton of specific news on him yet, but definitely interested to see if this is the offseason where the light comes on for him.
- I’m told that Jalen Carter looks even leaner, which is good news for Georgia because he’s going to be on the field a lot in 2022. He is the direct replacement to Jordan Davis, but with more pass rushing ability and a quicker jump. I know that sounds insane after the performance Davis had at the combine but it’s true. The question is who will be his running mate.
- Opposite of Carter, the other DT spot is rotating heavily. A lot of guys are going to get looks there, but I have heard good things about Zion Logue through the first couple weeks of practice.
- Bear Alexander is still recovering from offseason surgery, but a few people have commented on his quickness. He follows Coach Scott around everywhere and is trying to soak up knowledge.
- Echoing what others have reported, Jamon Dumas-Johnson is a stud. The light came on for him last fall and he’s going to be a big part of the ILB rotation.
- I’ve heard rave reviews on Rian Davis at ILB. He has been impressive when asked to scrape into the hole and fight through traffic to get to the running back. He has the ability to feel the play and anticipate where things are going. Davis is rotating with the first and second teams and has been making a lot of calls as well.
- Trezmen Marshall has been getting a lot of work with the first team group also.
- The rep splits on G-Day will be interesting to see. UGA has a lot of highly recruited guys fighting for time in the front seven.
Coaching Notes/Special Teams
- Sources who have observed practice said Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann are true Co-DC’s, with Schumann overseeing the front seven and Muschamp overseeing the secondary.
- Todd Hartley has been leading Special Teams meetings with Smart, Muschamp and Monken also in the room.
- Smart has put a real focus on the return game in Special Teams this year. He has said that he wants to see a higher average yards per return on kickoffs than in 2021. Georgia is 8-10 guys deep when it comes to returners, and Ringo, McIntosh, and Milton are among the players who will get a look in that role.
- Nolan Smith and Robert Beal are in line to play a lot of Special Teams at this time
- Oscar Delp is an early candidate for a starting role on Special Teams as well