Fall camp preview: Georgia Bulldogs
Our daily fall camp preview series continues with the Georgia Bulldogs, a team projected to win the Eastern Division, according to league media.
From top to bottom, Georgia’s roster (at least on paper) appears to be one of the most talented Mark Richt has had in the SEC. Not only do the Bulldogs return the SEC’s leading rusher in Nick Chubb, but there’s four running backs behind him any program in the country would love to have. Georgia welcomes back a veteran-laden offensive line, skilled wideouts Malcolm Mitchell and Isaiah McKenzie, and possess the nation’s best core of outside linebackers led by Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd.
Establishing continuity at the receiver position, picking a starting quarterback and managing a viable rotation in the trenches defensively are primary elements to watch during fall camp. This team doesn’t have any glaring holes like other perceived elites and welcomes a number of high-profile newcomers who aren’t expected to redshirt in addition to the eight early enrollees who took part spring drills.
Getting five-star tackle Trent Thompson, the nation’s top-ranked recruit in the 2015 class, acclimated to the team’s base defense along the defensive line will be a top priority in the early going as he tries to earn immediate playing time on Jeremy Pruitt’s unit.
Primary position battles
Quarterback — Brice Ramsey vs. Faton Bauta vs. Greyson Lambert: Former Georgia pass rusher turned SEC analyst David Pollack made headlines at media days when he predicted Lambert to come out of fall camp as Georgia’s starting quarterback. I don’t see that happening, not when Ramsey and Bauta both excelled in their respective roles this spring and directed the offense with poise. There isn’t a clear-cut quarterback favorite going into August for only the third time during Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens, but Ramsey and Bauta — with spring practice under their belts in Brian Schottenheimer’s system — have an edge.
Left guard — Isaiah Wynn vs. Hunter Long: Now that Brandon Kublanow has moved to center and is listed as the first-teamer at the position starting fall camp, Wynn and Long will fight for the starting nod at left guard. Expect both players to get a crack at center as well if Kublanow doesn’t produce. Wynn appeared to have the edge in the middle during spring practice, but was marred by inconsistency down the stretch.
Nose tackle — John Atkins vs. Trent Thompson: Atkins, a third-year sophomore, is a career backup who finally looks the part as a run-stopper within Georgia’s front seven. He exited spring practice as the Bulldogs’ starter at nose but should be pushed by Thompson, the aforementioned five-star freshman. Expect Atkins to get most of the first-team reps in August, but look for Thompson to make noise when given opportunity.
Across the board, it doesn’t appear the Bulldogs have a noticeable weakness heading into a pivotal season for Richt, but figuring out the quarterback situation needs to be done before the opener. Whoever Schottenheimer chooses, he needs to do so with confidence that his run-geared, short and quick-pass game plan can be executed. Last season, Hutson Mason was more or less a placeholder under center but managed to direct the SEC’s top scoring offense at 41.3 points per game.
If Georgia can establish a threat from the pocket this fall to go along with the nation’s deepest backfield, defenses with have their hands full trying to stop a litany of playmakers coming at them from every direction.