Georgia finished up its first week of practice Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of recruits. A group of probably 30-35 prospects watched the Bulldogs practice for the first time in pads with their families. Kirby Smart had his team keep the intensity up for the prospects giving them a taste of their futures. Here are my three takeaways from both sides of the ball from Saturday’s practice.
Kirby 2.0 or is that Dan Lanning?
Dan Lanning is one of the most intense coaches I’ve had the privilege of watching. And I haven’t seen him coach a game yet. He’s tough, demands perfection and above all else extremely motivational. On Saturday, Lanning had future Georgia player, Noah Smith watching along with a group of 7-10 other prospects. He coached up his players, making sure they went through the drills the right way. Early enrollee, Brenton Cox went through drills with the OLB’s and Lanning called the youngster, “B.Cox!”
While observing him and the linebackers, Lanning threw out a great line that would motivate the laziest person on the field. He told the guys, “What are we wearing? Pads! So use them! We have to make these reps count, we’re playing the game now!” Lannings’ trying to get his players to give 110 percent now and not just in the games. I remember hearing Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy saying last season how practices were so much harder than the games, I guess Lanning’s on board with that style.
Defensive Line Stick to the Basics:
Tray Scott likes fundamentals. Every day it seems he starts with the same three drills of basics. The basic footwork drill, the agility drill in the PVC pipe contraption, and the swiping drill on the machine. While watching these, Tyler Clarke stood out for me. Clarke’s first in line for every drill and even ran with the ones on a few of the drills. Scott gave him a nice pat on the back along with Devonte Wyatt for a job well done in a drill.
Youngsters Make Name for themselves after Day 3:
I’ve already mentioned Cox early, but expect him to be ready. Granted there are guys more experienced than him out there like D’Andre Walker and Walter Grant, but I think he surpasses them. Cox is a three-down player, while I don’t know that Walker is just yet. Walker should be and will be just fine, but Cox is a force already. Coaches want him mentally ready and Lanning’s fast-tracking him. I noticed a grad-assistant spending a lot of time with him almost shadowing him to get him ready.
Mark Webb is another guy that’s making a name for himself this spring. Granted he’s not quite a “youngster” anymore, I’m including him in this because he’s still finding his way. He played with the ones a good bit while the media was out there today. And then, of course, the video of him popping Isaac Nauta gave me some good insights into his progress. I expect him to really make some moves this season, he wants on the field and with the kind of determination, I saw today in just warm up drills I expect him to make it.
These two guys stood out to me the first day I really got to watch the defense and I only expect more news to follow from them.
Zamir White Held Back?
I’ve reported this for the third day in a row now, but it appears true. Zamir White appears to be way ahead of schedule with the rehabilitation of his knee. He wore pads just like the rest of the players and ran through the handoff drills. One of the media members told me he “doesn’t see anything indicating an injury besides the brace. If the brace wasn’t there, you wouldn’t know.” In my running backs preview, I mentioned a potential thunder and lightning 2.0 scenario, and well after Saturday’s practice, I stand by that. White made some cuts during the media availability and it seems he will be ready for fall camp. Tsunami Swift and Thunder White should take over by storm.
Deep at Wide Receivers:
Terry Godwin impresses me more every day. He put on some weight and looks a lot more cut. He’s just one of the wideouts that have added some weight. Matt Landers, Riley Ridley, JJ Holloman, and Jayson Stanley each appeared to have bulked up some this offseason.
Ridley’s running with the ones as he did all week. I’m still not sure about him yet, I want more effort out of him. He didn’t miss a ball during the media periods on Saturday, and I will continue to keep an eye on. Landers shared reps at the three spot with Michael Chigbu. He has it physically and we all know Smart praised him last season. However I think it’s mental for Landers, I don’t know he can put it together and take the hits just yet. Once Tommy Bush gets to campus, I think it just might iron itself out. The two will push each other.
Finally, Holloman may be a breakout receiver this season, if he can stay healthy. I saw Scott Sinclair stretch out his left hamstring a couple times during the media availability. It may have just been protocol though. He’s one to keep an eye on.
Fields is the Real Deal:
Justin Fields has everything you want in a quarterback. He’s got long arms, he can tuck it and run and he’s got a crazy high football IQ. He continues to impress me every day. Fields throws so hard, and darts those balls in there. However, he did show some freshmen tendencies on Saturday, making wideouts come back for balls a few times. In my opinion, he’s a natural athlete and will make teams cringe one day, but he’s got some growing up to do. Fields is quite confident, and I don’t blame him, but this isn’t high school anymore and when he gets hit one good time, he will get knocked down a few notches.