ATHENS — The usual disclaimers must be issues: It’s just a scrimmage. Key players on the other side of the ball were injured. It’s just spring. And, again, it’s just a scrimmage.
Still, it had to be encouraging to the Georgia football team that the defense seemingly had a better day. It’s the defense, after all, with all the unproven players and stars needing to be replaced.
“There were quite a few interceptions, a few sacks, a few pass disruptions, things like that,” defensive end Ray Drew said. “Just the things you would like to see out of the defense and things coming from them as far as being productive as a defense. You had all the elements there. And especially with it being the first day, I felt it was very promising as far as what’s gonna come.”
Drew was credited with two sacks at the first spring scrimmage, which was closed to the public and media. The other defensive stars included players trying to earn starting spots: freshman safety Tray Matthews (four tackles), inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (seven tackles) and cornerback Sheldon Dawson (two interceptions).
The offense, meanwhile, struggled with star quarterback Aaron Murray getting the day off to attend an awards banquet. Backup Hutson Mason was solid (14-for-23, 186 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) but Christian LeMay had a rough day (1-for-11, 13 yards) and freshman Brice Ramsey was picked off three times. There also wasn’t much of a running game other than Keith Marshall, who had 71 yards on 11 rushes.
“There were some good plays made out there offensively,” head coach Mark Richt said. “But as far as putting together drives and scoring points, it didn’t happen. The defense did a really nice job.”
Young QBs struggle
LeMay’s stat line was very ugly, but Richt was more upbeat.
“There’s a bunch of dropped balls. I don’t know if they were all LeMay’s that were thrown, but a lot of them were,” Richt said. “The thing I like about Christian is he’s getting a better feel of how to run the show and how to get everyone lined up. He spent a little of his time with the young receivers and just trying to get everyone lined up where they’re supposed to be. And changing protections at the line and make good decisions in the run game. So he’s improving.”
As for Ramsey, his interceptions were the result of some deep balls and participating on the third-team, which still has a lot of rust. At least that was Richt’s explanation. And to be fair, it’s not like Ramsey needs to be ready to play any time soon.
“I think every ball he threw hit somebody’s hands. Three was the defense,” Richt said, laughing. “The rest hit the offense, so that was good.”
Matthews stands out
Matthews continues to impress, as he was the first one Richt mentioned — with no hesitation — when asked if any early enrollees had impressed.
“He made two early tackles that I thought were very outstanding, runs that I thought looked like they might have broke a little longer, but he aggressively came and made a couple nice open-field tackles,” Richt said. “It was Marshall, and he did a good job of wrapping him up in the open field a couple times.”
The amount of sacks shouldn’t be a reflection of a poor performance by the offensive line. Richt said a lot of them were in a third-and-long drill. Richt estimated about half of them happened there.
“I didn’t think we had a big issue there,” Richt said.