Georgia will get its first simulated look of the preseason during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Closed to reporters and most of the public, the Bulldogs will scrimmage each other in a similar format to what head coach Kirby Smart has previously done over the past year. The first-team offense will battle the first-team defense in various situations, with the second and third teams doing the same.
It should provide Smart and his staff with a better feel and understanding of the kind of talent present on this year’s roster.
“It’ll be ones versus ones, game situations, twos versus twos, game situations, threes versus threes, goal line situations, two-minute situations, red area, what we call move the field, which is just the normal part of the game,” Smart said. “So it will be very similar to what we usually do.”
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Here are three things of note for Georgia entering the scrimmage.
How will the offensive line gel with or without Wynn?
The lone silver lining Georgia can claim with left tackle Isaiah Wynn (illness) being sidelined is that the coaching staff has been able to take a closer look at additional offensive linemen. But the downside remains that the offense isn’t establishing the needed continuity with its best offensive lineman absent from practice.
Smart said he isn’t sure whether Wynn will participate in Saturday’s scrimmage or not. If he does, Georgia will get a look at the line it started camp with – Wynn, Pat Allen (left guard), Lamont Gaillard (center), Solomon Kindley (right guard) and Dyshon Sims (right tackle). If Wynn is unavailable, the starting five will likely be Sims (left tackle), Andrew Thomas (left guard), Gaillard (center), Kindley (right guard) and Ben Cleveland (right tackle).
The scrimmage should also serve as a good opportunity for Isaiah Wilson, D’Marcus Hayes, Kendall Baker and Aulden Bynum to get some needed reps.
“There are a lot of moving parts which we knew going into camp would be that way,” Smart said. “I would say we’ve got to play more physical to improve on the offensive line, not only this year but so far this camp.”
Which receivers separate themselves as priority targets?
Georgia has quite the logjam going on at receiver. While Terry Godwin, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Michael Chigbu and Jayson Stanley have been the top five wideouts, a slew of others have been battling for playing time.
Sophomore receivers Mecole Hardman and Tyler Simmons have impressed thus far, although Simmons has recently been limited due to a wrist injury. Freshmen Mark Webb, Trey Blount, J.J. Holloman and Matt Landers have all had their positive moments. Webb may have the biggest opportunity as a receiver who got some run with the first team during last Saturday’s open practice.
Saturday’s scrimmage could be a big moment for the receivers as far as who can step up and separate themselves from the pack.
Will the secondary show the improvement Smart wants?
Earlier in the week, Smart was particularly critical about the secondary, saying it isn’t where he would like it to be.
Consider that a challenge for the Georgia defensive backs, given that four starters from last year’s team return to the unit. Dominick Sanders said Smart’s comment is being used as motivation. The scrimmage will be a good opportunity for the defensive backs to prove they were listening to their head coach.
While Georgia returns four starters in the back end, there could still be some movement within the group. While Aaron Davis has been practicing at every secondary spot, the scrimmage could serve as a great time to hone in on where he might be best suited to start the 2017 season. And once that decision is made with Davis, it could trickle down with the starting spots for the rest of the unit.
Sophomore Tyrique McGhee and freshman Deangelo Gibbs are defensive backs with a lot to gain with good performances Saturday.
“We’ll find out a lot about our team as far as who is ready, who is not, by that competition in that scrimmage,” Smart said.