Whenever you’ve had the sort of turnover on the defense the way Georgia has there is always going to be news. Maybe news isn’t the best way to put it. Perhaps rumblings is the better way to describe what’s going on.
Let’s start with the defensive line and Jon Taylor. There’s never been much doubt that Taylor had the frame to get the job done on the defensive line. Coaches have been on him for years now wanting more from him.
They might – might – get that this fall. Obviously it still depends on what Taylor does from here on out, but when you hear some people describe him as “deadly” you take note. That phrase comes with a caveat, however, and that is that Taylor has to continue to keep his weight down.
He was listed at 336 last year. He is allegedly around the 315 mark, which is the key to his play. Taylor always stood up too much, which is common for big guys who get tired during play. But if he’s in great shape Taylor stands to take one of the defensive line spots that’s hanging out there this fall.
“If John Taylor keeps slimming up he could be lethal,” said one insider.
Food discipline is up to the player.
Todd Gurley is still working his way back into shape after having to be careful regarding his ankle injury from last fall. I expect him and the rest of the players who were hurt to be ready to play for the season opener vs. Clemson. Obviously, Gurley was going to be ready to go, but my statement encompasses Keith Marshall, Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell.
I asked someone how Mitchell was progressing and the response was: “He’s killing it.”
I said: “Is that really the best way to put it?”
The response: “It's Malcolm Mitchell.”
I also expect the offensive line starters to be (left tackle to right tackle along the line): John Theus, Brandon Kublanow, David Andrews, Greg Pyke and Kolton Houston. Now, you’ve got some flexibility in there, too because Mark Beard can fill in at either tackle spot, and that could force Houston to the inside at guard and Pyke or Kublanow would be out as a starter.
I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I also don’t think that Beard is just not going to play. Pyke is probably the most athletic big man on the roster. There are some very high expectations for him. Keep in mind that he’s redshirted a season, and this is his third year in the program. Ray Drew didn’t get to grow up outside the spotlight; Sterling Bailey did, and lots of folks were surprised how well Bailey did this past fall… particularly at the start of the season.
I’d expect Pyke to have a good year. He’s solid and has been around the block for a while.
I’d also keep an eye on Isaiah Wynn. He’s going to play in the fall, but I’m not sure totally where, but probably guard right now. Picking up Wynn is starting to look like a real good out-of-state get for the Dawgs and a real tough non-get for everyone in Florida.
I can’t see Quayvon Hicks staying at tight end the entire season. He may play some hybrid form of that spot, but it looks like Jeb Blazevich is having a good enough summer that people are going to have some expectation that he will play this fall. That would give Georgia three legit tight ends.
I look for Shattle Fenteng, Malkom Parrish and Shaq Jones to all play this fall in the secondary. Jones has been the most talked about this summer. He’s not big (apparently he can’t lift weights to save his life), but he can make plays. Considering the turnover in the secondary, and the coaching staff, the cornerback position opposite Damien Swann is going to be wide open. Fenteng is going to have a good shot of playing or starting in the secondary. Also, someone is going to have to play nickelback, and that's where Parrish could get his best shot of starting.
The secondary is the spot where the most transition is going to occur this fall. Even if the likes of Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Shaq Wiggins were still in silver britches, only JHC would be a certain starter this fall. Quincy Mauger had already seemingly passed Matthews as a starter – quite a regression from the spring of 2013 Matthews had.
Again, it is ramping up to a busy time.
The final UGA Day is on July 15th. Georgia’s media day appearance is July 17th. Dawg Night is July 18th. Players report to camp on July 31st. The first day of practice is in the afternoon on August 1st.