Still, I’m fairly certain I learned a few things during the multi-week period that was Georgia’s 2015 spring football practices.
1. Brice Ramsey certainly seems like the starter.
No one has been named the starter by Mark Richt; no player has said who the starter is; Brian Schottenheimer hasn’t been made available to the media. Still, 15 years later you need be able to read between the lines a little to figure things out.
It also helps to have sources inside the program and around it to help out.
If Brice Ramsey isn’t the starting quarterback this fall I’d be pretty surprised. He’s the only signal caller who can consistently get the ball down the field. He connected on two very long plays at G Day. He already beat out Faton Bauta last season, and even though Schottenheimer has taken over for Bobo that doesn’t mean the talent gap has shrunk between the two.
Now the pressure is on for Ramsey to perform. Winning the starting quarterback job in the spring, relatively speaking, is the easy part. Beating the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Florida and the rest is where the real challenge lies.
2. Nick Chubb is too valuable to tackle
I asked Mark Richt before the spring if Nick Chubb would be tackled in spring practices.
“If they can,” he replied.
They didn’t do it much - they being Georgia’s defense of course.
Look, you’ve got one of the top overall players in the country on your team; he’s playing a position that became very thin suddenly at the start of spring; I’m assuming Chubb already knows the playbook.
So why risk tackling Chubb? Mark Richt and company know where their bread is buttered… and Chubb is the No. 1 ticket to the SEC Championship Game. There is no reason to jeopardize the season just to make sure that Chubb knows how to get tackled, and the defense understands how to tackle him.
We all get it.
3. Linebackers, Linebackers and more Linebackers
This looked like a problem coming into 2015, and it might still be, but Georgia appears ready to throw as many players as possible at the linebacker spots in the coming season. Keeping in mind that Roqaun Smith is still set to enroll this June, Georgia had a slew of newcomers play heavy minutes this spring in the top two units of depth chart.
Natrez Patrick was likely the breakout star of the spring at middle linebacker. He’s a heck of a player, but he certainly seemed like an outside linebacker or defensive end this time a year ago. I saw him play at middle linebacker in the state championship game a few months back, and he seemed huge for that spot, but he was very productive there.
The point is that Georgia has a wealth of depth at this spot. If everyone is healthy middle linebacker might be the deepest on the team. And that will help on special teams a ton. Linebackers always have to play on special teams, and there are some guys who are going to push their way into starting special teams spots because they won’t be starters at linebacker.
The depth in the middle of the defense is great. There is no star at the position, but there is great depth, and that’s really important at one of the collision-heavy spots on the roster.
4. Receivers are a real concern
Look, I’m not suggesting Georgia doesn’t have the ability to have a potent passing game, but the receivers are going to have to be healthy and steady the entire season. Frankly, that hasn’t happened for two years.
It took Malcolm Mitchell half of 2014 to get going; same for Justin Scott-Wesley. Those two are critical for the 2015 season. In addition, and that’s the bad part… those two are not enough, Terry Godwin is going to have to be as good as I think he is for Georgia to be what they need to be in the passing game.
Godwin is an explosive game-changing player. But he’s not as good as A.J. Green was, and it took Green about a month to get going in 2008. Perhaps Godwin will benefit from the slow start to Georgia’s 2015 slate.
But by the time Georgia plays South Carolina on September 19th the receivers need to be ready to go. Nick Chubb can’t do it all - at least not all season. The receivers might be the Jekyll & Hyde of the entire team. But they need to be good when they need to be good, or this team isn’t going to get to Atlanta. They have the potential to do just that - but avoiding injuries is a must this year.
5. Punting - ouch… it is really, really bad right now
I’m not going into this for too long, but its time to get the punting game going again. Georgia can’t be this bad at punting and have a successful season. Its possible Colin Barber was in a funk this spring - that can happen with kickers/punters.
Its time to get out of that funk and perform.