The Georgia football team began their 2019 Fall Camp on Friday and followed it up with a second practice on UGA Fan Day on Saturday. With only those two practices into this year’s Fall Camp, here are some early observations so far.
Coach Dan Lanning
Speaking of defense, I had the opportunity to watch defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning on Friday as he ran his OLBs through drills. I was impressed with Coach Lanning in how he taught and worked with the players and his energy and enthusiasm.
One particular moment stuck out to me as he had the linebackers working a drill with the sled when he took a moment to explain why the players were doing what they were doing.
“What does this mean guys,” said Coach Lanning. “Why do we break it down? So we can beat the block first. You’ve got to win the block before you can make the tackle.”
It is never easy to replace a coordinator the quality of Mel Tucker, but I have every confidence in Dan Lanning to have this Bulldawg defense ready for the season and firing on all cylinders.
One area of concern for fans when measuring this Georgia team against the Alabamas and Clemsons of the college football world has been the d-line, but I think this 2019 Bulldawg defensive line has a chance to be special. Part of that optimism stems from the number of juniors and seniors UGA will be able to rely on. Seniors like defensive tackles Michail Carter (76), Tyler Clark (52), Julian Rochester (5), and juniors like DL Malik Herring (10), DL DeVonte Wyatt (95) DE Justin Young (92), not to mention graduate DT Michael Barnett (94). And this bunch has some size to them.
I already talked about how much bigger the Georgia defensive line group looked from Friday’s opening day of practice, if you missed that report, you can catch up on it here “Talking season is over” for the UGA Football Team. But I cannot reiterate that observation enough. I posted on yesterday’s Daily Dawg Thread that I cannot remember a bigger looking d-line group for the Bulldawgs. Of that group, sophomore DT Jordan Davis (99) may be the most imposing at 6-foot-6 and 330 lbs.
And they are reporting to camp healthy.
Here is what Kirby Smart stated in Friday’s presser when asked about injury updates on the defensive line.
“Everybody is cleared on the D-Line, ” said Coach Smart. “Julian [Rochester] is going to be cleared today but we are not in pads. Were we at pads and tackling, he stills had some room to improve there to be in full contact, but all those guys are back, [Michail] Carter, Julian, all the young guys will be out there.”
Coach Todd Hartley
Another coach that caught my attention from practice is assistant and tight ends coach Todd Hartley. He was working with his TEs as well as several of the offensive linemen on Friday. Like Coach Lanning, Hartley’s energy and enthusiasm were contagious. One moment that was particularly memorable was during a drill with some of the o-linemen and TEs, which you can watch and share with me in the below video.
Todd Hartley comes to UGA from having coached the TEs and special teams for the Miami Hurricanes the last three seasons replacing Jim Chaney who coached the tight ends in addition to his offensive coordinator duties. Although Coach Hartley is new to the Bulldawgs staff, he is not new to Georgia having been the Director of Player Personnel in 2015 as well as two stints as a graduate assistant (2005-2007) and (2009-2010).
QB D’Wan Mathis and RB Zamir White
I could talk about receivers, the tight ends and wideouts, but it really is too early in camp to draw any conclusions as of yet as to who looks to be running with the one’s and who is with the two’s and three’s. The players are just running drills and warm-ups during this acclimation period. But what was good to see were a couple of Bulldawgs coming off injuries and competing with the team, freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis and redshirt freshman running back Zamir White.
Mathis had emergency surgery just a couple of months back in May to remove a cyst from his brain. White is coming off back-to-back knee injuries from his senior year in high school in 2017 when he tore his ACL in his right knee and then last year in fall camp, he tore his ACL in his other knee.
I don’t know if Mathis is cleared or when he will be cleared for full-contact or if he will even play this season, but regardless, it is heartwarming to see him out there with the team. White has been cleared and is good to go per Kirby Smart.
“Zamir is clear, so again, we’ll do everything like normal,” said Coach Smart. “He’ll be thudded, just like every other back will be thudded and we’ll progress from there. We won’t practice live until the first scrimmage.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK
Sunday’s practice is closed to the media today; so, our next opportunity to see Georgia will be Monday, which should be the first practice the players put on the pads. Practice number five will be Tuesday with Wednesday being a day off. Then the Dawgs will get back to work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We will start to find out more about this 2019 UGA football team next week as the intensity of practice ramps up; as Head Coach Kirby Smart says when “the grind” starts to kick in.
“Training camp is a grind and I think it’s important that it is that way,” said Coach Smart. “You create adversity in camp. We practice almost every day with the exception of we have to give them a day off per week. But it’s a grind, and you go to the point of getting exhausted. You go from running 2,000, 3,000 yards a workout in the summer to possibly running 5,000, 6,000 in a practice.”