The Georgia Bulldogs had their spring game last weekend and unfortunately I was out of town and could not attend or even watch. This afternoon I finally had a chance to watch the game and as I'm sure you've heard others say, I was impressed with the defense.
One thing I liked about the Georgia spring game more than the Texas spring game was that Mark Richt put the first team offense against the first team defense. Some of the defenders that really stood out were John Taylor, James DeLoach and Josh Harvey-Clemons. Taylor is a red-shirt freshman defensive lineman that will probably play at DE and at nose tackle a bit. He got good pressure from both of those spots early in the game. DeLoach, who will be one of the guys replacing Cornelius Washington at OLB, showed up on film a lot with six tackles and a sack. Josh Harvey-Clemons showed good quickness in getting to the line of scrimmage and making plays. As we touched on earlier this spring, he and Tray Matthews look like they could be a pretty special duo for the next few years.
I could sit here and list out all of the Georgia defenders if I wanted to because honestly they just looked solid. One thing to remember is that this squad should only get better as a lot of the players who were getting in on the action are sophomores, early enrollees or red-shirt freshmen.
The Georgia offense was up and down but that was to be expected with Todd Gurley barely touching the ball and Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett not available for the game. What was impressive was the first drive that Georgia had. After a trick play went afoul, it was like Georgia was still playing against Nebraska in the bowl game. Aaron Murray hit Rantavious Wooten with a back shoulder throw for 20 yards. Then Gurley chomped off 18 yards on two carries. Finally, Murray then hit Justin Scott-Wesley for a 15 yard TD after a pump fake. Five plays and 75 yards in 1:19. It was one of the two shining moments for the offense and definitely the low point for the defense.
The other outstanding series the offense had was a two minute drill at the end of the first half led by Murray. First Murray hit Rhett McGowan down the sideline and then he ripped one over the middle inside the five yard line to Justin Scott-Wesley. JSW held on despite a big hit on the play. Then Murray went back to McGowan on a quick out for a TD. It was an impressive showing by the offense especially when you consider that the defense was in good position on all three of the passes but Murray put the throws on the money. Murray finished the first half 10 of 15 for 165 yards and 2 TD.
Everybody's favorite player, the back-up quarterback, Hutson Mason had an up and down day and that was probably to be expected since he was with the number two offense. I liked how Georgia came out with Mason and immediately went five wide in the shotgun and ran no huddle. Mason seemed a little too quick throughout the day to pull the ball down and run and in a spring game that's not a good idea because all the defense has to do is touch you and you are down (since the QBs are protected). With that said, Mason does look very mobile and could have had some nice runs if it was in a real game.
Another thing to take note of for Georgia is their embarrassing riches at the WR position. We already noted that Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett weren't playing and they will start the year as the #1 and #2 WRs for Georgia. Newcomer Jonathan Rumph looked really good (2 TD passes), Chris Conley continues to improve, Rhett McGowan had a nice game and Justin Scott-Wesley had some very nice moments as well. Georgia is deep and talented at WR and will only get deeper with the return of Mitchell, Bennett and also early enrollee Tramel Terry (who also sat out with an injury).
The biggest takeaway is that the defense might not be that bad for Georgia this year. They might even be pretty good. Another takeaway is that Georgia has some seriously good young talent on it's roster. Because of their light recruiting class in 2012, Georgia was able to get 13 early enrollees on campus in time for spring practice and many of them made an impact in the spring game. Tray Matthews, Reggie Carter (ILB), Jonathan Rumph, JJ Green (RB/WR), Reggie Wilkerson (CB), Chris Mayes (DT), John Atkins (DL) and Quincy Mauger (S) all look like they will make some type of an impact in the fall whether it's a starting position, a part-time contributor or on special teams. And Georgia still has a whole crop of kids that will be coming in this fall eager to make a name for themselves.
Let's not start sizing these kids up for Championship rings just yet but if you are a Georgia fan you have to feel good coming out of this spring game. The team came within five yards of winning an SEC Championship last season and look like they are continuing their positive momentum. One thing is for sure, in the fall we are going to know very quickly if this Georgia team is any good because three of their first four games are against Clemson, South Carolina and LSU.