As Fall Camp transitions into preparation for the first game of the season for the Georgia football team, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff will have some tough decisions to make in regards to who makes the 70-man travel roster. This season, the coaches don’t have the benefit of a home game and an extra week to help with those evaluations and decisions because that first game will be on the road in Nashville, TN versus the Vanderbilt Commodores.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Head Coach Kirby Smart commented on deciding which players get to go and which stay home.
“It’s always tough. It’s tough at 80, 85, it’s tough when you travel 100. We know that what we decide there is not final. It changes week to week. There’s not a week that I think was exactly the same last year,” said Kirby Smart. “Number one, because of injury, but number two, because of effort in practice.”
“Michael Barnett didn’t travel, didn’t play, and then went on the scout team of defensive line, to starting on the defensive line against Georgia Tech,” added Smart. “It can come full circle. We are going to have some tough decisions to make. We’re not going to make them right now. We have two weeks to finalize those choices.”
One of the positions that would seem to be especially tough is how many running backs UGA will travel with. The running back group is a deep and talented one with senior Brian Herrien (35), junior D’Andre Swift (7), sophomore James Cook (4), redshirt freshman Zamir White (3), and true freshman Kenny McIntosh (6).
“We don’t know how many backs travel. If we have seven backs that are really good, we’ll travel seven. If we have ten, we’ll travel ten. If they can help on special teams, they’ll be out there,” said Kirby Smart. “We have traveled as few as four and as many as seven.”
But its possible Georgia travels to Nashville with all 5 scholarship running backs as well as walk-on like junior Prather Hudson (24).
“Prather [Hudson] makes that number vary because he’s a really good special teams player. Those decisions that we have to make are going to be tough, but someone like McIntosh is a key to that decision because his value right now is going to be special teams.”
The biggest question mark is probably how many of the true freshmen from Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class make this first travel roster. Of the freshman on offense, the three most likely to make the trip are wide receivers Dominick Blaylock (8), George Pickens (1), and Makiya Tongue (19). There has been a lot of hype from what Pickens has done in Fall Camp so far and although not talked about as much, both Blaylock and Tongue have had solid camps. The least likely to go and left behind to hold down the fort would be the freshmen offensive linemen.
On defense, defensive lineman Travon Walker (44) and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) are the most likely freshmen to get an opportunity to travel to Nashville along with outside linebacker Nolan Smith (4)and defensive backs Lewis Cine (16) and Tyrique Stevenson (7).
It is not a decision I relish the coaching staff having to make, but it is part of playing on the road in the Southeastern Conference, and we will know what decisions the coaches make in roughly 11 days.