Georgia football: 2 areas of concern revealed in spring practice


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2 areas of concern for Georgia football

Life is good for Georgia football fans. Between the SEC Championship Game, Rose Bowl and National Championship Game appearance, last season was historically great. Kirby Smart just signed one of the best recruiting classes in program history. It’s shaping up to be a historic year for Dawgs in the NFL draft. And there is nothing to suggest Georgia won’t contend for another SEC title and College Football Playoff appearance this season.

Like I said, life is good.

But — and there’s always a “but” — a couple areas of concern have been revealed over the course of spring practice. Since Smart subscribes to the Nick Saban “rat poison” school of thought, he could probably give you dozens of things he’s worried about, if pressed. But so far this spring he’s elucidated two points.

Let’s take a look at those:

Starters in the secondary

Georgia is in the process of replacing three defensive backs the team depended on for years — Dominick Sanders, Malkom Parrish and Aaron Davis. While there’s an obvious need to get more talented, it will take time to replace the experience of that trio. It’s obvious Smart isn’t thrilled with his options so far.

“Some of the guys at that position, I don’t think they’re challenging themselves mentally with learning the playbook,” Smart said Saturday, according to Chip Towers of DawgNation. “It’s their time and they have to step up or they’ll be replaced by the people coming in. … We’re not playing really well at those positions. And I would understand it if these guys were on scout team last year and didn’t get reps, but because of our depth issues, most of guys were our backups and didn’t have to play last year but took reps. We’re not where we need to be.”

We all know to expect good things from Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed, and Smart said Mark Webb, Ameer Speed and Eric Stokes are in a “stiff competition” to start opposite Baker. But, in general, the defensive backs seem to be walking on thin ice. With 5-star CB Tyson Campbell and 4-star CBs Nadab Joseph and Chris Smith set to arrive in Athens by fall, the DBs on campus only have a few practices, a spring game and summer workouts to live up to Smart’s standards or risk losing their spots to freshmen.

Depth along the defensive line

It’s difficult to get too worked up about anything during spring practice, but there seems to be some serious concern within the program about the defensive line. According to Seth Emerson of DawgNation, a person who watches the program closely told him that defensive line is the “biggest question mark of the program” at the moment. And the main issue is depth.

“We’re certainly going to need some help depth-wise (on the defensive line),” Smart said a week ago, according to Emerson. “I think the key is going to be staying healthy. Losing two guys like John John [Atkins] and Trenton [Thompson], I don’t think you’d think it would have that much affect but we really only gained one in Devonte Wyatt, so the subtle effect of that with Michael Barnett being ruled out has put us short.”

The problem with the defensive line isn’t the first-team. Tyler Clark, Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and David Marshall are all good players with plenty of experience. But who comes in after them? Modern defensive lines often run six or seven players deep. Four doesn’t cut it for a program trying to win a national championship.

Between Daquan Hawkins-Muckle, Malik Herring, Michail Carter, the injured Barnett, Wyatt and incoming freshmen Jordan Davis and Tramel Walthour, there are plenty of players who can fill out the rotation. But will they be good enough to get Georgia back to the title game and, more importantly, win it.

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Georgia football holds first full scrimmage of spring

Despite some of the doom and gloom Smart spouted Saturday about the state of the secondary, he was considerably positive about the first full scrimmage of the spring, describing it as “really good” and “upbeat.” You can check out Towers’ practice report for more info on that scrimmage.

You can also watch some highlights from the scrimmage. The Georgia football Twitter account released a short highlight reel, which you can check out below.

GymDogs headed to NCAA Championship

The GymDogs pulled off a minor miracle last weekend. Heading into the final rotation Saturday at its NCAA regional in Tuscaloosa, Georgia was on the outside looking in at a trip to the NCAA Championship. But a fantastic late run on bars combined with a strong performance from Sabrina Vega on beam during the final rotation unexpectedly boosted Georgia into the top two. The GymDogs (196.500) finished second to fellow SEC member Alabama (197.225) to qualify for the NCAA Championship.

“Today was like a championship meet,” Georgia coach Courtney Kupets Carter said. “This team, they had the adrenaline. Everything was on the line, and they fought. We had a few little mistakes; we weren’t in great position after the first two events. But they really rallied. It was amazing. Bars was absolutely the most fun event of the entire evening. One routine after another was just building, building, building. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Georgia will compete in the NCAA Championship in St. Louis on April 20-21.

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