ATHENS — It’s happening too fast for Kirby Smart this fall.
Smart, entering his fifth season as Georgia’s head coach, wants to practice until his team can’t get plays wrong.
It’s clear there’s a certain restlessness, perhaps because Smart and his staff didn’t get to turn his team loose in spring drills to see what they’re all about from a physicality standpoint.
The new football season is closing in, so it’s no time to risk injuries when COVID-19 is also lurking as an invisible threat to sideline players at any time.
For a program that’s aiming to win it all, that doesn’t leave much margin for error.
Here are three takeaways from Scrimmage Two on Saturday
1. Quarterback growth
Smart said the Bulldogs have yet to chisel down the playbook to players’ strengths, first wanting to give all of them an opportunity to show their capabilities.
“It’s a catch-22 here if you’re calling plays designed for a certain quarterback, and you’ve got certain styles,” Smart explained. “JT Daniels, Carson Beck and D’Wan Mathis are all different quarterbacks. Right now, we’re trying to figure out what they can do.
“To only call certain things that maybe fit D’Wan or just fit JT or just fit Carson isn’t fair.
But after two scrimmages, one senses it’s almost time for new OC Todd Monken to carve out the best offensive personality that fits all.
An encouraging sign: Smart said the No. 1 offense beat the No. 1 defense in the Red Zone. Has defensive coordinator Dan Lanning met his play-calling match in Monken?
2. Defensive playmakers
For Smart to say a defender made a good play, it has to be very special.
That’s what happened on Saturday, when the head coach said there were “a couple really nice plays to get interceptions, guys broke along the way and high-pointed the ball, and made good plays on the ball down the field.”
One of the points of emphasis for the Georgia defense is producing more turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced multiple turnovers in each of the past two scrimmages. Georgia ranked tied for 84th in the nation in turnovers gained last season.
3. COVID concern
Smart made it clear COVID remains a very big concern, even as football programs have proven resilient enough to press forward through the national pandemic with stringent protocols.
“The biggest concern I have is COVID and protecting our players, and when you talk to the other guys in the league as we share information, it’s just scary that at any given time, it can hit your team and you not have enough guys to practice and get better,” Smart said. “It just seems like it’s a matter of if it’s going to hit you before this game or that game, but it seems to be going around the league.”
Smart talked about the importance of adaptability at the onset of the offseason, and it seems his players have bought in with the Georgia football program having a handle it.
“I don’t know exactly why we’ve had a little less than others,” Smart said, “but that can prove unfortunate later in the season if we have more of an outbreak.”
The Georgia quarterback scramble