Does Georgia's plan on offense change without Jamie Newman? Kirby Smart shares his thoughts
The Jamie Newman hype grew and grew this offseason and few could have imagined the quarterback would leave Athens before ever taking a snap as a Bulldog but that’s the reality facing Georgia after months and months of preparation for the upcoming season.
Now the question is, how much does Newman’s departure change the gameplan on offense for the Bulldogs?
The way Kirby Smart tells it, not having Newman won’t change much for his team.
“Yeah, not a lot changed in regards to the quarterback,” Smart said during his most recent media availability. “Like I said, Jamie obviously wasn’t there this week and he was the last, so the reps went to really three guys, and then Stetson – in the practices that he wasn’t there. It’s not hard for us in practice to give four guys reps because we do what we do called ‘two-spot.’
“We are able to get maybe the ones and threes, or ones and freshmen, and then twos and fours, work. The quality of that work may not be equal because the quality of the age and experience of the players isn’t balanced. The quarterbacks get a lot of work in practice. In a scrimmage, there’s not but one quarterback on the field at a time, so that makes for less reps in a scrimmage for sure.”
The Georgia coach has noted on several occasions during camp that JT Daniels is not medically cleared to play in a game — following his knee injury suffered at USC last season — although the quarterback has been practicing during the entirety of training camp.
Given that Daniels now has a clear path to the starting duties in Athens following Newman’s departure, Smart was asked if the QB’s physical limitations are making it tougher to evaluate his play on the practice field.
“I don’t know that we’re getting a full read ever. We’re not getting a full read on any of them,” Smart answered. “D’Wan [Mathis] steps up to scramble today, and you’re having to make a determination of ‘Did he get sacked, or did he not?’ That’s really never fair, and the only way to make it fair is to make it live. That’s the tougher decision, and it’s a decision that we’ve actually thought more about this year than we ever had before.
“Both JT [Daniels], himself and Carson [Beck]— they have mobility. Even JT has some mobility with a knee brace on, but D’Wan certainly is ahead of them in regards to that, so it’s a hard measuring stick. You’re trying to judge whether the guy was down or not down, did he break the tackle, or did he not break the tackle? So no, you’re not getting a full exposure to what you would like. The only way you’re going to get that is, A) Scrimmage live, or B) Play a game, and the game is next in line for us outside of some other practices to get better.”
When it comes to making a decision on which quarterbacks to play this season, Smart suggested that the varying abilities of his quarterbacks may make his decision even tougher when it comes to making a final decision on which QB to play.
“You want them to move the offense and score points. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s a catch-22 here,” Smart continued. “If you’re calling plays designed for a certain quarterback, and you’ve got certain styles that maybe JT, Carson and D’Wan are all different quarterbacks. Right now, we’re trying to figure out what they can do.
“To only call certain things that maybe fit D’Wan or just fit JT or just fit Carson isn’t fair. That’s not right. You’re trying to find out what he can and can’t do. Sometimes I don’t know what you can’t do until I call something to see if you can do it. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what that is.”
Sounds like the Georgia coaching staff has a lot of questions to answer before naming a starter. With time running low between now and the opener at Arkansas on Sept. 26, these questions will have to be resolved sooner rather than later.