ATHENS – For all the concerns about Georgia’s defense, after two scrimmages it appears the offense still has plenty of work to do.
Head coach Mark Richt made it sound like the offense had a listless scrimmage on Friday night, despite some pretty big passing numbers. It began well, with the first-team offense moving the ball downfield against the first-team defense and scoring on a Hutson Mason pass to Chris Conley.
But from then on, Richt said the "execution deteriorated," with some muffed shotgun snaps, players jumping offsides, and players not lining up right.
“It was just frustrating,” Richt said. “I told them too. We’re at practice 17. I mean we had more in this scrimmage than the first one. The only thing I could say is the focus might not have been as strong. I don’t know.”
Most of the problems on the offensive line were from the second team, Richt added.
Richt said he made clear prior to the scrimmage that it would be vital in deciding playing time going forward.
“Maybe some guys got a little uptight with that, I don’t know,” Richt said. “But there’s gonna be a lot more pressure when there’s 95,000 (in the stands) and a few million people watching. But there was just too much of that for this time of year.”
Defensively, a pair of freshmen defensive backs had some good moments. Dominick Sanders had a 54-yard pick-six off Hutson Mason, on what Richt said was a busted play. Rico Johnson picked off Brice Ramsey on a leaping catch by the sideline.
Junior linebacker Jordan Jenkins was the overall defensive star, with nine tackles and two sacks. The defense also won most of the third-and-longs, according to Richt.
How the running game went
One reason the offense hasn’t racked up many touchdowns in either scrimmage is star tailback Todd Gurley hasn’t seen much action. He only got four carries for 11 yards on Friday, the same stats as Keith Marshall.
“We didn’t need to see much from them,” Richt said. “We wanted to see the younger backs perform, and they did a nice job. From what I could see they ran the ball well, they secured the ball well, they pass protected.”
Freshman Sony Michel was the leading rusher with 39 yards on four carries, and also had three catches. Freshman Nick Chubb had 30 yards on nine carries and a touchdown, and also had a catch.
At fullback, Quayvon Hicks got the carries at the goal-line, which isn’t an indication that he’s moving back to fullback with the end of Merritt Hall’s career. Richt said it was simply because Hicks has experience in those goal-line sets.
Mason put up good numbers (22-for-31, 204 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT). But the more intriguing stats were behind him, as Faton Bauta and Brice Ramsey continue to compete for the backup job.
They each attempted 17 passes, with Ramsey completing more (13 to 10) and racking up more yards (187 to 152) and a touchdown.
But Ramsey also had an interception, while Bauta didn’t, and Bauta was able to be hit by defenders, unlike Ramsey. That was Bauta’s choice, as he likes to be able to run out of the pocket.
Afterwards, Richt declined to say whether he saw any separation in the battle for the No. 2 job.
“They’re both capable, I’ll say that,” Richt said.
Special teams notes
Marshall Morgan made all nine of his field goal attempts, and William Ham was 2-for-2. Ham's longest attempt was 44 yards, Morgan's was 52. The amount of field goals was planned, not part of the ebb and flow of the regular scrimmage
Isaiah McKenzie did not participate in tonight's scrimmage, but he will be ready to go for Saturday's special teams scrimmage. Richt said McKenzie is in "heavy consideration" for both return jobs, especially punt return.
“It was one of the more exciting things about his high school career, that made me wanna go after him, because I thought his ability to return punts and kicks could help us a lot,” Richt said.
Receiver Justin Scott-Wesley continues to sit out the scrimmages despite participating in practices. The junior tore his ACL last October and Richt had previously said he wasn’t optimistic about Scott-Wesley being ready in the early part of this season.
“He gets work. We just don’t have him in a contact situation right now,” Richt said. “He’s getting better. We’re just not ready to get him in a full-speed situation right now.”