Georgia notes: Smart looking for more from key players

“Some leaders are starting to show up; we’ve got some good leaders, I think,” he said. “The biggest concern I’ve got is that the best players play the best, and that probably hasn’t happened so far. We’ve got some guys that I consider to be really good players that aren’t playing up to their potential.” 

On a happier note, Smart said there were a number of “twos and threes last year that are playing pretty well.”  

“There are a couple of guys that you would say, ‘OK, this is a guy who played really well last year’ and he’s not playing to the level he should play to,” he said. “That’s one of the scariest things that can happen to our team. 

“But the good news is, at those positions, there’s a guy that’s just as talented behind him that’s scratching and clawing or maybe just got here and is fighting for playing time. That excites me.” 

Georgia will hold its first scrimmage Saturday at Sanford Stadium. 

Good Godwin

Georgia’s practice also was its first in full pads and first held inside, because of a nearby lightning strike. 

“We were looking forward to going outside today, but we got some lightning that forced us inside,” Smart said. “We got to go outside for about half of it, which was good.” 

The big news of the day for the Bulldogs was the appearance of receiver Terry Godwin, who Smart said Friday had a minor issue with his left knee.  

A 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior, Godwin was Georgia’s second-leading receiver in 2017 (behind Javon Wims) with 38 catches for 639 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 16.8 yards per catch, with his longest reception coming on a 59-yard scoring scamper on Georgia’s first offensive play against Mississippi State.

“He’s not all the way back,” Smart said. “He did some indie drills, but that was about all he was able to do today. … We’re trying to get a little more out of him each day.” 

Line depth

When asked about depth on the defensive line, Smart pointed out that it takes a lot of bodies to man the front in the SEC. 

“I think any defensive line in the SEC has to play a lot of guys – you have to play a lot of players,” he said. “They get worn down, they’re second-effort players, they cover down, they run so much more than offensive linemen, so to be able to switch those linemen out – a lot of them are playing double teams – it helps. 

Smart added he doesn’t yet know the eight or nine players who will be in the rotation, but said “there’s some really good competition” for playing time.

 “Obviously, Tyler (Clark) is a going to be a guy who’s played a lot of football for us. Julian (Rochester) has played a lot of football for us, and Jay Hayes is a guy who has picked everything up mentally, (and Jonathan) Ledbetter,” Smart said. “But after those core guys, what you’ve got is a group of guys who are fighting for those rotations.” 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.