Georgia is set to begin its five-week spring practice schedule Tuesday.
The Bulldogs will have 15 total practices, including the annual G-Day spring game on April 22. This gives head coach Kirby Smart and his coaching staff a chance to evaluate the 2017 roster and see what can be improved upon once August rolls around.
Coming off of an 8-5 season, Georgia will look to improve its win total in a major way.
Here are five questions on Georgia’s program entering spring practice:
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Which five will begin and end the spring on the offensive line?
Georgia lost tackle Tyler Catalina, center Brandon Kublanow and guard Greg Pyke to graduation, although three linemen with experience do return in Isaiah Wynn, Lamont Gaillard and Dyshon Sims.
But where exactly will these three line up when practice starts? One educated guess would be that Wynn begins at left tackle and Gaillard at center. As for Sims, he could line up at either guard spot or right tackle.
While junior college transfer D’Marcus Hayes will surely get reps at both left and right tackle this spring, Georgia will probably have him begin on the second team. This means Solomon Kindley, Pat Allen and Ben Cleveland could get a crack at the guard spots. If two of those open on the first team at guard, Sims would line up at right tackle. If Sims is inside, Allen, Kendall Baker or Aulden Bynum would be candidates to begin practice at right tackle.
By the end of spring practice, the goal is likely be for Hayes to line up at left tackle. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Hayes is the prototype for what offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman want at the position. The offensive line will continue to compete through the offseason, especially with five talented freshmen arriving in the summer.
How well will freshman defenders acclimate?
Three of Georgia’s freshman early enrollees are on the defensive side of the ball. How well they are able to grasp defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s scheme will go a long way for early playing time.
As for the secondary, there are two roles in Georgia’s secondary that up for grabs with Maurice Smith and Quincy Mauger graduating.
Rising sophomore Tyrique McGhee would seemingly be the leader for Georgia’s starting nickel back spot. But Deangelo Gibbs is talented enough to compete for early playing time and could get a close look there.
Georgia ran plenty of three-safety sets in its dime package a year ago, which could serve as a way for Richard LeCounte III to get on the field. With Roquan Smith (upper body injury) banged up, Monty Rice may see some early reps with the second group, considering an opportunity for Tae Crowder to get some first-team work could emerge.
How much will Fromm push Eason?
Since freshman Jake Fromm arrived in January, Smart has raved about how much he has already pushed Jacob Eason from a competitive standpoint.
When practice begins, it will be the first time to compare the young quarterbacks. It would take a lot for Fromm to ultimately unseat Eason, a quarterback who started 12 of 13 games and kept mistakes at a minimum.
But based on how Smart has referred to Fromm thus far, this will be something to watch. If anything, Eason’s game could see significant improvement if Fromm is as advertised, simply because of how much added pressure will be on the Lake Stevens, Washington native to further step up his level of play.
What will Georgia do with Hardman over the next five weeks?
Mecole Hardman arrived to Georgia as a highly-touted offensive playmaker.
Moving to defense, Hardman spent his first season as a rarely-used backup at cornerback and on special teams. Since Georgia only has four cornerbacks on scholarship for the spring – Hardman, McGhee, Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker – it’s likely the Elberton native stays on the defensive side of the ball.
But it will be interesting to see whether Hardman starts seeing some offensive reps. Five cornerbacks will enroll over the summer, boosting the depth at the position. If Hardman doesn’t separate himself at cornerback, he could be a key candidate to move to the offensive side of the ball, especially since Isaiah McKenzie left for the NFL draft.
Which defensive linemen make biggest leap?
Even if he was enrolled in classes for the spring, Trenton Thompson wouldn’t participate in spring practice due to his shoulder injury. His absence should open up some valuable first-team reps to other defensive linemen in this rotation.
Julian Rochester and David Marshall had the most productive first-year seasons of the four rising sophomore defensive linemen. So this spring could be a chance for Michail Carter and Tyler Clark to further their development. Jonathan Ledbetter played well following his six-game suspension to start the season and could be in for a big spring as well.
Justin Young will be an interesting player to watch, considering he played well when called upon at times during the 2016 season.