With camp over, Bulldogs turn attention to offensive lineup for No. 5 Clemson

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19), here catching a pass in the Bulldogs' first scrimmage of preseason camp, has emerged as one of the most impressive freshmen of the 2021 class. Between his play and injuries to others at his position, he has earned a role in the Sept. 4 season opener against Clemson in Charlotte. (Photo by Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)
Caption
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19), here catching a pass in the Bulldogs' first scrimmage of preseason camp, has emerged as one of the most impressive freshmen of the 2021 class. Between his play and injuries to others at his position, he has earned a role in the Sept. 4 season opener against Clemson in Charlotte. (Photo by Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

Credit: Tony Walsh

Credit: Tony Walsh

ATHENS – With approximately 200 snaps among the first, second and third units, the Georgia Bulldogs wrapped up the camp portion of preseason practice Saturday. They even partook in the ancient UGA tradition of eating watermelon at the end of the scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.

ExploreGeorgia Bulldogs depth chart: The defense

Starting Tuesday, the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs will move into the installation phase of preseason preparations. The focus shifts intensely to daily work on the game plan and lineup for No. 3 Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte on Sept. 4 (7:30 p.m., Channel 2 Action News).

That means personnel experimentation is mostly over at this point. Georgia’s first 22 on offense and defense are largely established, with specialized and backup roles being refined daily in the nine to 10 practices that remain.

“We’re trying to figure out who the best football players are, and that’s been our intent with these scrimmages,” coach Kirby Smart said after the Bulldogs finished their second and final one Saturday. “We’re going out and trying to play fundamental football now. It will become a little more schemed because we’ve got to find out what each guy does well and what we want him to become.”

The general picture of what the offense will look like is coming into sharper focus 11 days out. Let’s take a look:

OFFENSIVE LINE

Starters: Probably the biggest question mark coming into camp, the Bulldogs appear to have settled into a starting five for Clemson. They are LT Jamaree Salyer (6-foot-4, 325 pounds, Sr.); LG Justin Shaffer (6-4, 330, Sr.), C Sedrick Van Pran (6-4, 310, RFr.), RG Tate Ratledge (6-6, 320, RFr.) and RT Warren McClendon (6-4, 300, So.). It won’t necessarily stay that way.

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Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) protects quarterback JT Daniels during a game against South Carolina Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) protects quarterback JT Daniels during a game against South Carolina Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. (Tony Walsh/UGA)
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Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) protects quarterback JT Daniels during a game against South Carolina Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

Role players: Redshirt freshman Broderick Jones has had a strong camp and could back up either tackle. Likewise, junior Warren Ericson, who was slated to start at center before breaking his left (snapping) hand in the second practice of camp, is participating in a club cast now. He could play either guard and has been practicing snapping with his right hand. Junior Owen Condon will be in the mix at guard if healthy. Freshman Jared Wilson has been the surprise of the group and will see action this season.

Quote: “We’ve really settled into the five that are repping with the 1′s. … I feel good about our depth at offensive line, and we still have time to determine who the starters will be. But it’s not like we’re out there doing musical chairs.” – Smart

RECEIVERS

Starters: The position most questioned by fans, Georgia’s wideouts actually have rounded quite nicely into form. Sophomore Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint has reasserted himself as the No. 1 split end, where he backed up George Pickens last season. Returning starters Kearis Jackson (knee) and Jermaine Burton (ankle) are now healthy and set to go at slot and flanker, respectively.

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Georgia wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (81) makes a catch during Bulldogs’ practice session Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Georgia wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (81) makes a catch during  Bulldogs’ practice session Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)
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Georgia wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (81) makes a catch during Bulldogs’ practice session Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

Role players: Sophomore speedster Arian Smith, redshirt freshman Justin Robinson and freshman Adonai “A.D.” Mitchell definitely are in the plans. Redshirt freshman Ladd McConkey could play as well. Dominick Blaylock, survivor of two ACL reconstructions, eventually will. So, we’re told, will heralded transfer Arik Gilbert.

Quote: “Each one of those guys has had a tough, physical, competitive camp. … All three have a different skill set and are all three competitors. They continue to grow and are all in that receiver rotation. – Smart of Rosemy-Jacksaint, Robinson and Smith.

TIGHT END

Starters: Injuries really hurt this position. Junior John FitzPatrick and sophomore Darnell Washington both were going to play a lot. Now both have been sidelined with foot injuries. FitzPatrick has returned but is not 100 percent. It looks like the 6-7, 265-pound Washington won’t play against Clemson.

Role players: Georgia is in good hands with sophomores Ryland Goede and Brett Seither. But the talk of camp has been the spectacularly versatile play of freshman Brock Bowers. Coordinator Todd Monken has drawn some stuff specifically for Bowers (6-4, 230).

Quote: “He’s accelerated his learning. He’s competitive, he works his tail off every day. He’s a joy to be around. He’s what you want in a football player. So we’ve got to find a way to use his skill set.” – Smart on Bowers

RUNNING BACK

Starters: The loyalty, overall durability and solid play in camp of Zamir While and James Cook will be rewarded in the first game, and possibly beyond that. But Monken has made it clear that the coaches are looking for more explosive plays out of the position. So, those two are going to have to produce to hold back a bunch of talented young backs.

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Georgia running back Zamir White (3) leads Bulldog running backs onto field against Tennessee Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Georgia running back Zamir White (3) leads Bulldog running backs onto field against Tennessee Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)
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Georgia running back Zamir White (3) leads Bulldog running backs onto field against Tennessee Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

Role players: It seems almost a disservice to label sophomores Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh as backups. That is, however, going to be their roles out of the gate. That won’t last if they spring some long runs. Meanwhile, sophomore Daijun Edwards was surprisingly productive last year. All deserve snaps. Proficiency catching the ball and in pass protection will earn time on the field.

Quote: “We’ve got an excellent group of running backs, and all five can play here. (Running backs coach) Dell (McGee) does a great job of keeping those guys fresh. They’ve been pretty selfless in terms of understanding that it probably benefits them to not have all the wear and tear on them. But, obviously, we have to become more explosive in the run game.” - Monken

QUARTERBACK

Starter: Junior JT Daniels has had a solid camp and has endeared himself to teammates both by sharing his NIL wealth and with his apparent penchant for trash-talking to Georgia’s No. 1 defense. The battle therein reportedly has given Daniels even more confidence heading into his fifth start for the Bulldogs.

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Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff (12) completes a throw during the Bulldogs’ practice scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Mackenzie Miles/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff (12) completes a throw during the Bulldogs’ practice scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Mackenzie Miles/UGA)
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Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff (12) completes a throw during the Bulldogs’ practice scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Sanford Stadium in Athens. (Mackenzie Miles/UGA)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

Role players: Redshirt freshman Carson Beck has been QB2 throughout camp. But fifth-year senior Stetson Bennett, with 25 games and 17 starts in his career, is the Bulldogs’ most experienced quarterback and very likely would be called on in an emergency situation. Both Beck and freshman Brock Vandagriff have displayed tremendous upside.

Quote: “First, he is more comfortable with our players. Second is he’s very, very comfortable with the offense and changing things at the line of scrimmage and doing things that are player-controlled. He likes to be involved, and he’s got greater command of what we want done.” – Monken on Daniels

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