Spring Football Questions: It’s déjà vu all over again

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Spring Football Questions: It’s déjà vu all over again

Practice footballs
[su_spacer size=”20″] Last March Logan Booker posed the following questions for spring football. Three of them are still valid, quarterback is again a question mark and the Pruitt question…well, there are other things to worry about.
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[su_spacer size=”20″] Congratulations, University of Georgia football fans! You’ve successfully made it two and a half painstaking months without those game day butterflies you essentially revolve your life around. And while you’re still five and half even more painstaking months away from Clemson bringing their sea of orange into Athens, this week marks the beginning of spring practice, which will give you the opportunity to delve through practice reports and potential depth charts! Starting Tuesday afternoon, the sounds of coach’s whistles and player’s grunts will once again be heard around the Butts-Mehre practice fields, and questions you have about the 2014 season will be offered plenty of hints towards the answers.
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J.J. Green
J.J. Green.   Photo: Rob Saye/BI
[su_spacer size=”40″] How ready will J.J. Green be at cornerback?

A couple of weeks back, during spring practice media day, head coach Mark Richt announced that soon-to-be sophomore J.J. Green will no longer be a running back – a position he seemed to fit in at just fine in 2013 – but will instead move over to cornerback to assist in a secondary in dire need of help. But will he be ready to go on Aug. 30th, or will this switch prove to be a work in progress? Green was recruited out of Camden County High School (Georgia) as an athlete, where he played plenty of cornerback, successfully. He will be joining fellow sophomores Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley at the position, both of whom saw playing time as true freshman in 2013, with Wiggins getting the bulk of the action. Senior Damian Swann, who did not have the successful junior season he was hoping for, and junior Sheldon Dawson will also be working with Green. While each of these players are known to possess phenomenal athletic ability, it is hoped that new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will have them in better possession to make plays than they were in in 2013. Which takes us to our next inquiry…..

 

Jeremy Pruitt

Will Jeremy Pruitt reveal anything about his new defense?

[su_spacer size=”40″] UGA made what many refer to as a “home run hire” when they were somehow able to pry defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State just weeks after he won a National Championship, filling the void left at UGA when Todd Grantham departed for Louisville. The impact of the hire could instantly be felt, as the fanbase quickly turned warranted pessimisms towards a struggling defense into elation and hope for what the future now holds. Recruits also noticed, as Pruitt was able to quickly snag commits from top-notch talent for the upcoming 2015 class, in addition to holding the 2014 class together. But what, if anything will Pruitt show us this spring? As he will be using these sessions to better know the talent he has inherited, it will be interesting to see if he will implement his schemes, which many describe as a 3-4 / 4-3 hybrid, or just get a feel for what will be possible in the fall, and with whom.

Tailgate Station

 

Who will emerge as a solid backup quarterback to Hutson Mason?

There is very little speculation that fifth-year senior quarterback Hutson Mason will be taking the opening snap against Clemson as UGA’s quarterback – if healthy – but very little is certain about who will take the snaps in the event Mason is not able. Last season, soon-to-be redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta seemed to emerge as the backup. He appeared in three games, where he mainly ran the ball, accounting for 30-yards on the season. While he appears to have a strong arm when monitored at practice and warmups, we know very, very little about Bauta’s ability as a play caller. Soon-to-be redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey could be another candidate to take the backup title, as he now enters his 2nd spring practice with the team. Ramsey did not see the field in his redshirt 2013 season, but has drawn praise from offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and teammates regarding his ability to learn. Early enrollee Jacob Park will be going through his first drills with the team this spring, but is not expected to jump into any significant role this season. But stranger things have happened in spring practices, and the emergence of a surprise player would be a good problem to have.

 

A.J. Turman during practice in 2013. Photo: Logan Booker/BI
A.J. Turman during practice in 2013. Photo: Logan Booker/BI
[su_spacer size=”40″] Will A.J. Turman emerge as a player, or get lost in the running back depth chart?

2013 taught us very little about soon-to-be redshirt freshman running back A.J. Turman, as untimely injuries kept him from contributing in a season where he was needed. While stars Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall sat much of the season with injuries, UGA was forced to use freshman running backs J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas, while Richt admitted Turman would have seen playing time if he too were not hampering nagging injuries. With Gurley apparently still nursing some injuries from last season, and Marshall not expected to return from ACL surgery until closer to the season, Turman has an opportunity to emerge as a contender for playing time at the running back spot. With Green heading over to defense, and the two blue-chip recruits Sony Michel and Nick Chubb not arriving in Athens until the summer, the time is now for Turman to either turn some heads, or find himself lost in plethora of talent. He will likely get the majority of reps throughout spring, and will be one to watch and analyze very closely.

 

Todd Gurley Hurdles Brandon Kublanow During the Gator Bowl on Jan 1st, 2014. Photo: Logan Booker/BI
Todd Gurley Hurdles Brandon Kublanow during the Gator Bowl on Jan 1st, 2014. Photo: Logan Booker/BI
[su_spacer size=”40″] Will the offensive line be ok?

With the graduations of Dallas Lee, Chris Burnette, and Kenarious Gates, a combined 106 games started, many questions will revolve around who will both protect Hutson Mason and provide adequate holes for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to run through. Will John Theus be able to fill the left tackle position vacated by Gates’ graduation? Will Watts Dantzler – who is as big as a sasquatch – finally break out as a serious contender on the line? How much progress will soon-to-be sophomore Brandon Kublanow make, as one of the few young lineman who saw any action last year? It is a vital unit to properly execute the potential high-powered offense that everybody knows UGA is capable of being, but how they will line up against Clemson is anybody’s guess at this point.

 

I am sure you have MANY more questions than just the ones I have proposed. Spring practice is a happy and often telling time of year, which may even end up creating more questions than hinting at the answers to the ones that already exist. So let’s make this a discussion int he comments below, and see if we can conjure up some predictions, and explore even more scenarios you are excited to see.

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.