NOTE: If you are reading me for the first time be warned that I am pretty to the point. Although I do my best to keep things in context, I call it like I see. I’ve found that’s the only way that works for me and those who have subscribed for 16-plus years to my publications, and I appreciate giving my subscribers what they've come to expect over the years.
With that first day expectations come - usually in the form of the rainbows and unicorns we’ve heard about during the summer. This was a first day that seemed like a nervous one in the world of the quarterbacks at UGA.
First, the lineup was what much of the spring had been - Greyson Lambert at No. 1, Brice Ramsey at No. 2 and Jacob Eason at No. 3. Frankly, and I can only go on what I get to see during the media period that’s about 15-20 mins long, this wasn’t a great day for the quarterbacks.
Jacob Eason seemed nervous, he didn’t look like the same guy who had a good day at G Day in the spring. Brice Ramsey, the most athletic of the three, managed to lose grip of a ball during a pass and have it drop backwards much the way Greyson Lambert did against Alabama last season. Lambert, for his part, was neither spectacular good or bad - he just was.
You can seen the arm talent of Ramsey and Eason for sure. But Eason left at least one out ball too short, which gave OC Jim Chaney the ability to reminded him that a ball like that is going to be picked off (and likely taken back for a touchdown). Ramsey had a ball or two under thrown. Eason overthrew not fewer than two balls to the right sideline that I remember. Again, Eason’s head is probably spinning.
With that said, both of those two guys have the physical ability to play winning football at UGA. Their goal has to be commanding the huddle, not making mental mistakes and executing physically as much as possible. Lambert isn’t going to be able to was the other two “out mistake” him and earn the job. He’s going to have to make plays as well. One has to wonder if today was about first-day jitters for everyone involved as none of the three looked great; didn’t look horrible necessarily, but didn’t look great.
I saw Terry Godwin with a wonderful catch of a ball that was thrown behind him on a slat. He made a great adjustment and caught a ball that would almost certainly have moved the sticks. With that said, there were, once more, too many drops from the receivers. There were times the QBs were not accurate enough with the ball to really expect the receivers to catch the ball - particularly on some of the out balls - but there were too many easy catches that become drops.
Nick Chubb certainly looks the part these days. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Nick. I fully expect him to play against UNC (and, quite frankly ravage them) if he stays healthy in August.
Chubb went with the No. 1 unit and rotated taking handoffs from Lambert (who was going with the No. 1s) and Eason (who was going with the No. 3s) and alternated with No. 3 running back Brendan Douglas. It appeared that Tae Crowder is the current No. 2 running back based on today’s rotations. One can expect the quarterbacks to rotate their positioning with the different units (perhaps not in handoff drills), but the running backs seem steady in their current rotation - even without Sony Michel out there. He was working with Ron Courson during the time we were on the practice field.
He’s a little short, but Elijah Holyfield totally looks the part of an SEC running back. What we don’t know is how will his vision on the field translate to making plays in the fall. He’s got a lot of guys in front of him. His ticket to the field might be the special teams route.
Tyler Catalina is a big guy. I’m not sure how his mass will translate to playing in the SEC because so many guys are benders who use their leverage to get around the corner. Being big is great, and really is a necessity, but being about to kick step and punch with your arms is critical. If you can’t touch it - you are not punching it with your arms. That’s my concern with Catalina right now. Again, he’s playing with the No. 2 unit. Kirby said earlier in the day that he’s going to start off camp with Greg Pyke and Isaiah Wynn lining up at the tackles. Those guys are going to rotate out of the tackle spots at times, and that will allow Catalina and youngster Kendall Baker in a tackle to see if they can develop him.
Developing younger players seemed to be a foreign concept last year at UGA.
It has to be a very real concept this fall. Eason and Ramsey specifically, who are both inexperienced, have to be developed over time. One practice isn’t going to make or break anyone. Keep in mind the the group on this team who is either a sophomore or freshman who could play quite a bit this fall (or in some cases start): Mecole Hardman, Michel Chigbu, Terry Crowder, Jayson Stanley, Charlie Woerner, Issac Nauta, Jackson Harris, Pat Allen, Ben Cleveland, Michael Barnett, Daquan Hawkins, Jonathon Ledbetter, Trenton Thompson, Natrez Patrick, Roquan Smith, D’Andre Walker, Rico McGraw and Kendall Baker.
That’s a lot of younger guys. They are talented to be sure, but they (for the most part) are untested and almost to a man are not what they will be when they leave UGA. Development of younger players is not only critical for this season, but for the health of the program on the long term.
If Kirby is serious about developing mental toughness in his program, and I’m certain he is serious, that group is going to have to be developed. We didn’t see that last fall at all, and it killed off a season’s-worth of development for some guys.
That can’t happen again.