Tuesday, March 20th marked the first day of spring practice for the Georgia Bulldogs. It was beautiful outside for the first day of practice, which made the media’s 14 minute viewing period pleasant. Practice ran as usual, intense. Georgia worked on fundamentals and getting back into the swing of things after being off for the last few weeks. Michael Pope and I each took a side of the ball. Here are the main takeaways from day one of the 2018 season.
Savannah’s Offense Report:
New Titles for Coaches:
There were a lot of changes with staff on the offensive side of the ball. James Coley has a new title, co-offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach. Jim Chaney is now the co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Cortez Hankton took over the as the wide receivers coach. Besides labels and slight movements on the practice-field to different groups, practice appeared to be the same as before.
Coley was his loud usual self. He made sure Jake Fromm and the other quarterbacks listened and caught onto the drills. Coley was hands-on with them, and all the quarterbacks appeared to be sponges and soaked in all the information. Chaney was loud with the tight ends too. He forced them to take the blocking drill to another level. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman yelled at his group also. He told them, “drive, drive, drive,” in one drill. There’s one thing for sure; the offensive coaches keep it loud and intense.
Running back U surprises the Media:
One of the biggest underlying questions surrounding spring was the status of Zamir White. Well, the media got its answer on day one of spring practice. White worked with the running backs on some drills, but not all of them. He and Ron Courson worked on the sideline with on his movement. White didn’t appear to be in pain and hardly limped. I believe the limp was him adjusting to the brace he had on his right knee. The next time I looked at him, he ran up and down the sideline carrying a football. There wasn’t a limp, and it appeared Courson had to hold him back. White being able to run already is a good sign for Georgia as its still five months before the season starts.
As for the rest of the backs, D’Andre Swift took first-team reps, and Elijah Holyfield took second-team reps. The group ran through fundamental drills with the quarterbacks, then moved to agility drills. Holyfield hasn’t missed an arm day this offseason, and it showed. His arms are enormous. Swift looked in shape and more mature with his movements.
Another Quarterback Battle:
After I watched Fromm and Justin Fields, I knew there would be a competition between the two. Both quarterbacks made nice and accurate throws. Fromm looks confident in his passes, and I noticed that his arm appeared stronger. Fields stood out with his arm strength. He has a cannon for an arm and can zip in those passes to receivers. Fields showed freshman tendencies, overthrowing Riley Ridley a couple of time. Both guys appeared to work well together, and it will only get more interesting as spring continues. I overheard another media member say, “man his throws are impeccable,” and I have to agree. However, I stand by my opinion that Fromm keeps his job come September first.
Pittman Rotates the Offensive Line:
I watched the offensive line some on Tuesday, and notice this rotation as the first string. The first string went like this: Andrew Thomas (LT), Kendall Baker (LG), Lamont Gaillard (C), Ben Cleveland (RG), and Isaiah Wilson (RT). Early Enrolee, Cade Mays wore No. 77 and worked with the second team while the media was out there. Trey Hill wore No. 55 and appeared to have lost a lot of weight since he arrived on campus.
I will note that junior lineman, Sam Madden wasn’t at practice, despite head coach Kirby Smart saying he’s a part of the team during his press conference.
Michael’s Defense Report:
Defense focuses on Fundamentals:
The focus of today’s practice was primarily on fundamentals and technique. It started on the defensive line with coach Tray Scott who stopped multiple linemen to give them pointers on how to not only more effectively perform the drill but also to make sure they protected themselves.
I heard Scott tell Jonathan Ledbetter to watch his hand placement because “that’s how we messed up that thumb last time.” Scott also worked with guys on their stance and the first day of practice had that normal feel of focusing on fundamentals.
The newest face on the defensive coaching staff, outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning, was very active with his coaching and remained heavily involved. This should serve as a motivator for his group because as he continuously told them to be quick and run, he continued to do the same.
Lanning was always in motion, giving pointers and making sure to stay engaged with each and every rep. I know it’s the norm to make wild comparisons of players like saying Brenton Cox reminds me of Davin Bellamy, but I will not do that yet.
However, I want to make a comparison of coaches as Lanning seems to handle drills and reps like head coach Kirby Smart. I can understand why Smart wanted him on his staff and it will be interesting to see how this group progresses.
Early Enrollees Numbers:
Divaad Wilson wore #17, Devonte Wyatt had on #95 and Brenton Cox was in the #1 jersey on defense. It was intriguing that two of the Bulldogs top incoming recruits will wear #1 with Fields wearing it on offense and Cox wearing it on defense.
Eric Stokes seemed to have made a number change. It looked like he was in a #24 jersey rather than his normal #41. This is not confirmed but will be something to check on moving forward.