Dawgs Open Spring: Opinions & Observations

ATHENS - Georgia opened spring camp with snow flurries. But there was nothing chilly about Aaron Murray on Saturday.

Murray was sharp – perhaps five years into spring football, he should look that way. But the point is that Murray was sharp on Saturday, and is clearly the top quarterback at Georgia.

I spent the entire time I was at practice on Saturday watching the quarterbacks and everything around them. Normally I'd move around a lot, but when a new highly-regarded signal caller comes in you always want to make sure what you thought you saw over time was what you did, in fact, see.

I think that is the case with Brice Ramsey, a tall and talented quarterback with virtually no experience in the realm of a pro-style offense – more on Ramsey later.

Right now the quarterback depth chart looks like this to me:
Hutson Mason
Parker Welch
Faton Bauta
Christian LeMay
Brice Ramsey

Mike Bobo was making sure Ramsey was getting work in with the rest of the quarterbacks, but the day was really about Ramsey not getting run over by accident in a drill because of not knowing quite what the drill was. Bobo worked with Ramsey, as expected, a ton.

Mason is clearly the number two quarterback at Georgia right now. He, right now, is the odds-on favorite to be the starting quarterback when Georgia opens the season in 2014. Welch still seems to be in front of both Bauta and LeMay with Ramsey taking up the rear for now.

There are a ton of quarterbacks out there right now. I will be interested to see who is still around in June… maybe no one will leave, but its clear that Ramsey has the best arm of the bunch (which is not a surprise). One has to wonder what will happen with the depth chart (the private depth chart that is) when Ramsey starts to understand what's going on at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

Malcolm Mitchell is Georgia's best receiver. He's also the fastest. He's going to have a productive couple of years if he stays durable in that time. Receivers, in the end, are not Georgia's problem at all. Neither are tight ends. On a side note – Tony Ball should work in a throat lozenge – you can't lose your voice on the first day of spring football… -1 to Ball on that one.

Running backs, however, this spring are going to be at a premium. When J.J. Green is taking reps at running back you don't have ideal depth at that spot. If Green is starting out at running back (and you need at least three running backs in the SEC) that means that A.J. Turman and Brandon Douglas had better be ready to get a few snaps in the fall. Yes, Keith Marshall is out right now with a hamstring (stretching), but who is the #3 RB?

I read Jonathan Branch's quick report from the rest of practice – I did not see much of what defense was doing, but will offer the following uninformed opinion…

If Tray Matthews is lining up as the #1 free safety on day one of spring ball that's bad news for depth back there. I know Tray is a very solid prospect, and that he's very talented, but having a freshman at #1 – even in spring football – is not ideal. I should point out that his backup is the capable Connor Norman. Still, this is the spot to watch in spring. If Matthews does well, which is possible (but seems challenging considering the amount he's going to have to process and learn before the fall) he will start as there is no one in his way to prevent that right now.

Josh Harvey-Clemons is hard to pencil in to one spot. He's so long and can make so many plays… the challenge will be figuring out the best place to play him. Todd Grantham seems to think the best spot is strong safety. It will be curious to see the matchup with an aggressive JHC against the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. Will Grantham bring him close to the line of scrimmage to help slow the run? Is he an outside linebacker in some situations with Corey Moore filling in at strong?

JHC is probably the most versatile defender Georgia has as he can play at all three levels of the defense – and that's not common.

Inside linebacker is, besides free safety, the curious spot to watch. Right now Ramik Wilson, who is very versatile, is running with the #1 unit. That makes the most sense to be sure. There could be times in the year where, because of the versatile nature of JHC, Wilson and even James Deloach, that Georgia could have some odd matchups if they want them.

Richt spoke on Saturday about Ray Drew possibly being one-on-one with an offensive guard. But it might not just be Drew. That could be Josh Dawson or Garrison Smith. Georgia's defense is going to still be pretty good. But it just going to look different and probably will be good in a way that's not used to what we have been seeing over the last two years.

If this defense can hold its own – and there's no reason to think it won't – 2013 will be another good season for Georgia. But keep watch of Matthews, Wilson, DeLoach and Harvey-Clemons. That group's play could determine how well the season ends up.

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