Georgia football’s annual G-Day spring game will be played at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, April 17 at 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs finished the 2020 season with an unappealing 8-2 record, but expectations are high for the upcoming season as Southern Cal transfer quarterback JT Daniels returns.
With an experienced quarterback, Georgia also returns a ton of offensive talent, coupled with some veterans on the defensive line. The only position group that is lacking is in the defensive backfield, in which the Bulldogs lost three cornerbacks with starting experience to the NFL Draft.
Nevertheless, fans have a reason to be proud because this is arguably the most talented team head coach Kirby Smart has had at Georgia in the last five years.
This past Saturday, Georgia held its second and final scrimmage before G Day.
“I was pleased with the effort and enthusiasm of the scrimmage,” Smart said following the scrimmage. “It probably wasn’t the best execution we had from an execution standpoint offensively and defensively, but I thought the enthusiasm was good.”
Smart added that the weather did affect the team, somewhat.
“It was really good to get to practice,” he said. “Every year we get one or two games with at least the threat of that. I thought the players handled it well. We got a good number of snaps in. We weren’t able to finish in the stadium, but we did get to finish back inside the indoor facility.”
Following the scrimmage, Smart eluded to the defense not being able to tackle well enough, which is something to watch for on G Day.
Another thing to watch during G-Day is the production of the wide receivers.
A couple of weeks ago, star receiver George Pickens tore his ACL, which makes his return unknown. A few practices later, Jermaine Burton, who finished third in receiving last year for the Bulldogs, hyperextended his knee. Then, during the first scrimmage, rising sophomore Arian Smith broke his hand.
Last season, sophomore Dominick Blaylock retore his ACL during fall camp, and freshman Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint injured his ankle against Florida on a touchdown pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett. Both are expected to make a full recovery and be 100 percent by the end of fall camp, which begins in August.
With all the attrition to Georgia’s wide receiving corps, Smart still feels like position coach Cortez Hankton can get the most out of his group.
“The depth has taken a hit obviously with George,” Smart said. “You know Jermaine got to do individual drills today. He’s back running around doing some things. He didn’t scrimmage but he’s doing a lot more and getting more flexibility. Marcus Rosemy is getting close. He’s running around doing walkthroughs, doing conditioning. You see him on the side getting to run, you know he’s close to being healthy. Dom (Dominick Blaylock) is running so you know you have guys there that have experience and have done a good job.
It’s really a valuable time for the younger guys, the other guys get an opportunity. Kearis has been very consistent. JRob (Justin Robinson) has made some plays and continued to grow and get better. Freshman Adonai Mitchell has made some plays. Jaylen Johnson has made some plays. Ladd McConkey has made some plays today and has continued to grow. D-Rob had some. I’m fired up. I wish I had all of them because I think that competition would be really good to see who the top guys and the starters are. But a lot of the young guys are catching up to the old guys now really fast with the work they’ve been able to get.”
Regarding the defensive backfield, Smart said “they are coming along.”
“We’ve got a long way to go but we’re getting there,” Smart said. “I haven’t seen any regress. That’s the good thing. If we’re on a one-mile journey, we just hit the first quarter. We’ve got a ways to go. We’ve got to figure out who it is.”
A huge positive is that Georgia picked up defender Tykee Smith a couple of weeks ago. Smith, a transfer from West Virginia, chose the Bulldogs after his position coach Jahmile Adde was hired away to Athens in March. The addition of Addae seems to be a positive thus far for Georgia’s defense, however, there’s still work to be done.
“I will say this,” Smart said. “Every one of them wants to get better and every one of them are trying to get better. We’ve had flashes of some good plays but consistently we have to improve. We have to improve our consistency in the secondary. That starts with tackling, that starts with eye control. It’s not just the corners. It’s the safeties as well and communication. All of those things are critical and we’re not where we need to be but I didn’t expect them to be right now. We’ve got a ways to go.”