I've not missed a first day of fall camp since 2001. In that time you get used to the madness that surrounds the first day of any camp.
The pattern always seems to remain the same to me – the program always wants to flush the season before. The coaches seem to point that out as often as possible during the day, and certainly when they get to practice itself.
Practice, by the way, seems to be the only time the players have to get away – so to speak. The rest of the time is the bunch crammed into Georgia's state-of-the-art facility learning the playbook… or is it learning the iPad these days?
On an individual level the script, for the most part, doesn't change much. Guys like Aaron Murray, Artie Lynch and others who have been around long enough to know what to expect seem to glide seamlessly through the day; whereas newcomers like John Atkins, Brice Ramsey and Tray Matthews are trying to establish themselves. Then there are the Corey Moores, Sterling Baileys and Michael Thorntons of the world – they are trying, after a few years of not playing – to slam their way into the playing rotation… maybe even as starters.
I'll tell you one thing I am totally exhausted of hearing… "Coming so close". The Alabama game is OVER. It has been over for months. It's time to move on. The media, and they have a job to do, will not stop the "coming so close" rhetoric. It has officially jumped the shark for me. But I understand that radio and TV stations have an audience, too. And most of that audience doesn't read about the Dawgs every day of the year like this (you) audience does.
With all of that said – basic notes from practice.
This, for the most part, will be random. There were no real lineup changes. The individuals you would think would be in the starting spots were. I don't think that John Theus is a second string player… he was playing, as most expected, with the first team offensive line at right tackle.
Judging on what I saw on Thursday Theus will be at that spot for a while. Xzavier Ward, I expect, will certainly rotate in at right tackle, but I think he's going to be the back up. He's still got a little ways to go before cracking the lineup. I think Georgia could win with him in there, but to me it is evedent that Theus is going to start there.
On the opposite tackle spot Kenarious Gates is still starting at left tackle with Mark Beard behind him. Beard, from what I have been told, is pretty much a left tackle all of the way. If he emerges at the starting left tackle someone – Theus, Dallas Lee or Chris Burnette – is going to have a fight on their hands to remain a starter. Gates is one of the best linemen the Dawgs have… he's going to start.
Also on the offensive line I was impressed, for some strange reason, by just how big or broad David Andrews' shoulders are right now. He's shown just how important a player he is during the season, but I continue to have high hopes for Andrews. Just how well can he play in the middle this season? Often the center's importance to the trajectory of the offense is overlooked.
One of the other offensive line looks – and it was during a rotation with the second string – was with Gates at left tackle, a now-returned Kolton Houston at left guard, Andrews at center, Greg Pyke at right guard and Ward at right tackle. The point? Georgia can mix it up pretty good with the offensive linemen they've got in the program right now. Hell, Aulden Bynum had a good rep today… I didn't think I was going to say the name "Aulden Bynum" for four years – I hope not to have to reference him again any time soon. I also got what I expected from Brandon Kublanow – the powerful, but young guard from Marietta. I thought he had a shot to play this season… I'm really not sure that's going to be the case now that Houston has returned.
At one point during the practice resident screamer and draw-calling genius Mike Bobo lit into his offensive line.
"Last year is over… you've got to work right now," the former signal caller barked.
That happened just after the #1 defensive line blew up the offensive line. We will know a touch more about the defense as time goes on this August, but I am hear to say that I think this defensive line – really the defensive front – could be strong. It is so diverse… there are different body types and personalities.
Garrison Smith is the leader of the bunch, but three guys in the defensive front caught my eye today: Jordan Jenkins, James DeLoach and, yes, Leonard Floyd. Floyd could be nasty. He put a move on an offensive lineman during his rotation that was not friendly. Smith had a good rep, too. You have to keep in mind that one winning rep by the defense can end a drive… teams that play Georgia need all of the drives they can get because the Dawgs' offense is going to score.
If what I say today was any indicator I feel comfortable saying the following: "Georgia will miss Jarivs Jones, but people are going to love these 2013 outside linebackers."
Here's the bad part… I would be concerned about the safeties at Georgia. I know, everything that's on the first day is always too quick to judge and or many pronouncements. But the safeties just looked inexperienced in general. Think… Tray Matthews is probably the best safety Georgia's got. Tray Matthews is going to be a high-round pick in the NFL one day. But Tray Matthews has as many college football starts as I do. It's just a non-ideal situation.
Corey Moore, however, is quite obviously getting time to work his way into a rotation with Matthews and the one-game-suspended Josh Harvey-Clemons. Missing JHC the first game of the year is going to be tough for everyone involved. If Georgia can play a smash mouth defense against the Tigers the game is not going to be close – the Dawgs are going to roll the Tigers. But the problem is, as we all know, Clemson is going to be allowed to call its own plays. The Tigers are not going to play Georgia in a phone booth and let Matthews and Moore (or whoever the safety winds up being for that game opposite Matthews) creep up to the line and make plays – not going to happen.
That's the concern, and I think after visually seeing it… safety is a concern going into the Clemson game. The corners, with Damian Swann and Sheldon Dawson, are going to be in good shape. I think Shaq Wiggins (who Mark Richt described as being "3-for-3 on holding the receiver"), Shaquille Fluker and others are going to play back there as well. Clemson has some talented receivers to be sure, but will they be able to run the ball when they need to? That's what will likely give Georgia a win in the upstate of South Carolina sometime around 11:30 that Saturday night.
Keep in mind, too, that Moore could get a look as the season goes on as a hybrid safety/linebacker with JHC and Matthews in the game at the same time. At that time Georgia's going to have to pretty big-hitting safeties in the secondary… they just better remember how to cover, too.
Brice Ramsey is going to be a very, very good quarterback for Georgia. He's going to jump people on the depth chart sooner rather than later. He's either more interested in being in there or seems to get more reps than I figured he would at this time in his career. Keep in mind that this, really, should be the first time he's on the practice field. His ball zips like no one else's on the field. He's not going to be the #2 quarterback this fall – that's going to be Hutson Mason – but he's going to be a very serious candidate to start in 2014.
Mike Bobo screamed: "There is no #3 quarterback guys… work yourselves in there."
Brice Ramsey took advantage of that.
Michael Bennett was with the #1 offense as was Malcolm Mitchell during practice. But we know that receivers roll in and out… and Jonathon Rumph did nothing to hurt his chances of being a major contributor this season today.
Rumph looks like a bigger, slower A.J. Green. He's very long and can go get the ball. Defenders should be very, very concerned about stopping Georgia. In all seriousness, if the opposition's defensive line can't beat the Dawgs' offensive line Georgia is going to win a lot of games in 2013 – and the margin is not going to be very close in most of them. Teams like Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and the like are going to be able to fight for a while. Obviously Bama and the Cocks have premiere defenses or defensive linemen. But it's going to be an all-day struggle to stop this offense.
I'VE NOT EVEN MENTIONED TODD GURLEY UNTIL 1,568 WORDS INTO THIS DIATRIBE.
Still, Will Friend could be heard loudly saying: "We are not a very good football team right now; We are not in shape right now."
And he's right – Georgia's not in football shape right now, but that's what camp, for the most part is for. You can do all of the conditioning you want, and that's more important than so many realize, but when the cleats come on and Bobo is screaming at you while Chris Wilson is making fun of you – the level goes up a notch… or two.
Other random notes: Brice Ramsey easily has the deepest voice on the team… I think Tramel Terry looks fine, but he's not at full speed; he will almost certainly redshirt… Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera are the overlooked starting middle linebackers… You can write off former walk-on Connor Norman playing a ton in the secondary if you want to; I'm not… It seems like Shaun McGee will get a quick look at linebacker, but if he's going to play this fall it will be on special teams… Reggie Carter is going to play a lot; probably the same amount Herrera did in 2011… John Atkins was no match for the #3 offensive line; that was not pretty; Atkins crushed them.