ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his staff will spend hours breaking down film of the G-Day Game exhibition, and the players will, too.
But there are some things that don’t require any sort of instant replay and should have been obvious to all.
Here are three quick takeaways from the Bulldogs’ annual scrimmage:
Backup QBs better than expected
For all the hand-wringing that took place when Georgia’s primary backup transferred to Ohio State, the Bulldogs look to be in good shape at the position.
Saturday wasn’t Jake Fromm’s best day, but everyone has seen enough from the rising junior and team captain to know he’ll deliver in 2019.
Former UGA walk-on and junior college QB Stetson Bennett and early enrollee D’Wan Mathis were two of the most pleasant surprises for many in the G-Day Game, however.
Teammates saw what Bennett could do in bowl practices in 2017, and Smart said during the SEC Network broadcast that he had already seen what Mathis was capable of during spring drills.
But for Bennett and Mathis to look so good — each in his own way — with the bright lights showing and fans in the stands had to help the coaches sleep easier while validating James Coley’s promotion to offensive coordinator for the few remaining doubters.
Bennett was the most efficient quarterback on the team on Saturday, looking comfortable in the pocket when taking snaps for the Red Team and Black Team. Bennett was a combined 12-of-23 passing for 210 yards with a TD and no sacks.
The 6-foot-6 Mathis showed off his big arm (a well-placed deep pass was dropped) and eye-popping foot speed. The freshman from metro Detroit was 15-of-28 for 113 yards with an interception, but he also had a 20-yard scramble and caught a 39-yard TD pass on a trick play.
Secondary on point
Georgia’s award-winning film crew has put out tremendous highlights on its Twitter account through spring and, let’s face it, the sight of a receiver skying high to catch a pass is more pleasing to the football eye than a DB deflecting a pass.
But Saturday showed us what else has been happening behind the walls Smart has put up around the program, and it didn’t take long.
Eric Stokes burst on the scene at Missouri last season, and since then it seems at each turn he’s making plays and standing out. Stokes’ Pick-6 of Fromm on the opening drive was a “Wow” moment, and the first-team secondary made lift hard on the starting quarterback the rest of the day.
The UGA quarterbacks were a combined 43-of-83 for 489 yards with 3 TDs and 2 interceptions — and were sacked seven times.
Considering the quarterbacks weren’t “live,” and the defense was laying off on big hits, those are not overly impressive passing numbers.
Mark Webb had 3 pass break-ups to lead the secondary, and William Poole and D.J. Daniel each had 2. In addition to Stokes’ interception, Latavious Brini also had a pick.
There were only two runs of 20 yards or more — Swift had a 27-yarder, and Mathis sprinted for 20 — and two conventional passes that went for more than 25 yards.
Early enrollee Lewis Cine, the No. 3-ranked safety in the 2019 class, had 8 tackles — sharing team-high honors with returning safety starter Richard LeCounte.
— 960 The Ref (@960theref) April 20, 2019
Program locked in
The Georgia G-Day Game had every reason to be a flop, the cold, damp and windy weather was horrid, and one of the most electrifying players on the team was sidelined by illness.
Instead, more than 50,000 Bulldogs tuned out and the Red Team and Black Team came sprinting out of different tunnels and played with great exuberance.
A mic’d up Smart put the showbiz aside, interrupting questions and breaking sentences mid-stream to coach his team with every bit of the same fervor he shows in practice each day.
Everybody on the team was intent on having their best day, which only seemed to make Fromm feel worse in the post game as he repeatedly beat himself up over his performance.
That’s how intense and locked in the Georgia football program is right now, from the fan base, to the head coach, into the locker room and spilling out on the field Saturday.
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