ATHENS Georgia freshman receiver George Pickens has nine catches this season, shut out in two of the four games the Bulldogs have played.
But make no mistake about it, Pickens remains a key priority in the pass game for the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (4-0) heading into their game at Tennessee (1-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN).
Kirby Smart said he wants the gifted wideout to get the football in his hands in all sorts of ways, not just on passes deep down the field.
" He does a good job with his whole route tree," Smart said of the former 5-star prospect from Hoover, Ala . "He's got really good quickness and explosiveness. He's shown up really good on our GPS system.
"We're trying to find ways to get him the ball and get him touches and he continues to develop and grow."
Freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock, who's tied with Lawrence Cager for the team lead with 10 catches out of the slot, has received a great deal of praise for his polish.
Pickens has been viewed as more of a work in progress. But already, he has earned the trust of quarterback Jake Fromm.
"He's a kid who is really special, a really gifted football player, and he's a guy who can go up and make plays throughout the field wherever it is," Fromm said. "He's a guy we've got to get the ball to, and hopefully we can do that in the next game."
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt will look to have Fromm schemed up, like he did last season in Athens. It was the only game in Jake Fromm's 33-game career that he didn't throw a touchdown pass.
Then there's Pickens, who Notre Dame kept from reeling in a catch the two occasions he was targeted in Georgia's 23-17 win on Sept. 21.
Smart explained that while it may have appeared the Irish were covering Pickens with one defender, there was actually more going on in coverage.
"It might look like it, but it wasn't always single coverage, there were some things they were doing, creating some problems for us they were mixing things up front," Smart said.
"We tried to go to (Pickens) in the end, but in the beginning they didn't present us an opportunity to do that a lot. It's not one on one like you think when it's quarters (four deep defense)."
Smart said Pickens isn't the only skill position player the Bulldogs will be working to get the ball to more.
"We're trying to find ways to get a lot of guys the ball more," Smart said, likely referring to Blaylock, Eli Wolf, James Cook, Zamir White, "and (Pickens) is one of those."
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