The Georgia Bulldogs were on the practice field for the first time this fall, as they began fall practice on Thursday afternoon.
It was a hot one for the first day, with players only helmets to start things off. Head coach Kirby Smart though was in midseason form, barking at players who seemed to be adjusting to heat and intensity.
Below are some observations made in the 15 minutes of viewing the media was granted at practice:
First team offensive line was a bit of surprise, as Devin Willock got the nod at left guard and Tate Ratledge at right guard. Broderick Jones was at left tackle, Warren McClendon at right tackle and Sedrick Van Pran at center. Ratledge’s status will be worth monitoring throughout camp, as Smart said as much as his press conference on Thursday: “He’s worked really hard at his conditioning,” Smart said. “Ron feels like he’s in a position where what we did in summer training would have been tougher on him coming off the injury than actual football practice. So the football practice piece should relieve some of that. Now, the strain and effort to push off and double teams, as we put on pads, may increase that. But he’s in a good spot.”
The second team offensive line went from left to right: freshman Earnest Greene at left tackle, Xavier Truss at left guard, Warren Ericson at center, Dylan Fairchild at right guard and Amarius Mims at right tackle
We did get a peek at the first team defense but I wouldn’t read too much into this, given the way the Georgia defense rotates: Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, Zion Logue and Jalen Carter on the defensive line, Nolan Smith and Robert Beal at outside linebacker, Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Trezmen Marshall at inside linebacker. The defensive backfield had Kelee Ringo and Kamari Lassiter at corner, Javon Bullard at star and Chris Smith and Dan Jackson at safety.
The first three wide receivers in drills were AD Mitchell, Ladd McConkey and Keyaris Jackson working out of the slot. Mitchell looked noticeably bigger than he did a season ago.
Fran Brown was working exclusively with the cornerbacks, while Will Muschamp was working with the safties and stars. Malaki Starks, despite the athlete designation, was working exclusively with the safeties during practice.
Three Bulldogs were in non-contact jerseys. Tight end Brett Seither, wide receiver Mekhi Mews and defensive tackle Christen Miller donned the black non-contact jerseys. Miller had a knee injury at the end of his high school career, while Mews had a labrum injury. Seither’s injury is unknown.
As for the quarterbacks, the four scholarship players rotated throughout practice and threw a number of passes. Of the deep passes, Stetson Bennett easily had the best ball of the bunch. Carson Beck was working as the second-string quarterback to start.
This was our first chance to see a few summer enrollees in practice, with Branson Robinson, Andrew Paul, Cole Speer, Dillon Bell, Drew Bobo, Miller, Marvin Jones Jr., Darris Smith, Jaheim Singletary, Julian Humphrey, Marcus Washington. Washington was not seen working with the cornerbacks. Of the physical observations, Paul and Robinson are not drastically different in terms of size, while Smith’s length really stands out.
As always, Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert are just impossibly large. What they are able to do with their athleticism is very impressive: “He’s really in a good spot,” Smart said of Washington. “You know, he’s a guy that I came in on Sunday, and he’s out there running on his own on a day that was off. He’s got a purpose. He’s practicing to be driven. And excited to see, you know, what he can do. It’s going to be important that we get him in good, physical conditioning shape to be good to go in this training camp.”
The Bulldogs begin a stretch of 25 practices in 29 days before their first game against Oregon. While the matchup against the Ducks is a marquee one, Smart is far more focused on how the Bulldogs practice.
“I’m not even thinking about Oregon,” Smart said. “Our concern is our roster. How do we build depth? I mean, we’re not even thinking about that. We’re so far away from that right now. We’re focused on us, our team, our connection and getting the right players in the right spots.”
Kirby Smart offers thoughts before the start of fall camp
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