Georgia’s 2016 spring practice is nearly at the midway juncture but for this reporter, Tuesday’s workout between the hedges in Sanford Stadium was the first opportunity I’ve had to watch the Bulldogs being put through their paces by new head coach Kirby Smart.
Naturally, I wanted this first time to focus my attention on the three UGA quarterbacks battling for the starting slot this coming autumn. That would be of course the incumbent, Greyson Lambert, last year’s backup, Brice Ramsey, and the heralded early-arriving freshman, Jacob Eason.
As we, the media, were ushered into the stadium to view the usual brief, three periods, of the early drills, the Georgia quarterbacks and running backs were working on goal-line offense. Lambert threw a little dump-off pass to starting tailback Sony Michel. Ramsey, running with the second team, then tossed a little screen pass out to Brendan Douglas. At the same time, head man Smart was keeping the practice moving at a fast pace, just like we heard the new staff was doing. Smart would race from one group to another shouting instruction and encouragement.
Then, the QBs and RBs backed down the field a little to execute handoff drills. Lambert, again with the 1’s, put the ball in Michel’s belly for a straight-ahead run. This time working with the 2’s, Ramsey was handing the ball, not to Douglas, but a guy named Nick Chubb who, like the quarterbacks, was wearing the black, non-contact jersey. I had read that Chubb, with his Roman-soldier-like work ethic, was ahead of schedule in rehab from his knee surgery of last season and after today, there’s no question about that. Indeed, one would hardly know this great tailback was ever injured against Tennessee last season … the way he charged straight ahead without any noticeable limp whatsoever. I, for one, would be stunned if Nick Chubb doesn’t answer the opening bell on Sept. 3 against North Carolina in the Georgia Dome.
Eason, working with the third unit, mostly took his turn at bat by handing the ball off to Brendan Douglas as new running backs coach Dell McGee looked on and gave advice to his ball carriers. And it did appear, from our vantage point at the bottom of Sanford’s North stands, that Jacob Eason is a tad taller, maybe just that half inch, than the 6-5 Greyson Lambert.
The next session for Georgia’s quarterbacks included throwing out patterns to the Bulldogs’ wide receiving corps. Placing the ball at the 35-yard line going in, the three took their turns drilling the ball to both sidelines. All were generally on target with their crisp throws. I say generally. Eason, who delivered a couple of balls with a passing motion below his shoulder, did overthrow a couple of route runners and Lambert also had at least one overthrow and one underthrow. Ramsey, with his strong right arm, appeared to have the most velocity on the ball but then, Eason and Lambert were also spinning the ball well in delivering the 10 to 15-yard strikes into the hands of the likes of Isaiah McKenzie, Reggie Davis and the rest of the Bulldogs wide-outs.
After the QBs and WR’s would advance the ball down to the 5-yard line, they would turn around and work the passing drill back to the 35 as new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney stood in the middle of the drill and astutely observed his quarterback-receiver hookups.
On other parts of the field, of course, the offensive line, defensive line, linebacker corps and defensive backs were also rapidly being put through their paces under the barking commands of their position coaches.
Bottom line, in the roughly 15 minutes the athletic department gives us to view these practices, and nothing at all changes when preseason practice begins in August, you can’t make concrete observations as to how these Georgia quarterbacks will perform when they start playing games for real. But G-Day on April 16 – whether it’s played before a record crowd of 70,000 or more or the 92,000 sellout that Kirby Smart is calling for – should give us a little more of a gauge as to what we might expect in the 2016 football season of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Wednesday, the team will return to their newly-created practice fields out South Milledge. The Bulldogs were scheduled to work out again on Thursday but due to impending bad weather, that practice was moved up a day. Georgia will then apparently have a couple of days off before embarking on their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday in the stadium.
BD_illustrated “I would be stunned if Nick Chubb doesn’t answer the opening bell on Sept. 3 against N. Carolina in the Georgia Dome.” #GATA