University of Georgia

Georgia settled and unsettled down the spring practice stretch

ATHENS -- There are two weeks left in Georgia’s spring practice, including Saturday’s G-Day game, and anyone looking for an overhanging theme can’t find one yet.

How much change has come about with the offensive coaching changes? Not too much yet, as Brian Schottenheimer and company seem to still be settling in, rather than taking a machete to the playbook.

Is the offense ahead of the defense, or vice versa? That’s hard to say with key players on each side hurt, and the offense’s best player basically not participating in scrimmages.

“Right now, if I had to say, we’re evenly-matched,” said defensive lineman Sterling Bailey, a fifth-year senior. “We’re just out there working, we’re just out there grinding.”

But there has been movement on several high-profile positional front, including:

Quarterback: Veterans Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta have separated themselves a bit from redshirt freshman Jacob Park, and G-Day could have a big effect on the race.

Center: On the other hand, the less-experienced player appears to have the edge so far, with rising sophomore Isaiah Wynn getting the first-team snaps in both scrimmages, rather than fifth-year senior Hunter Long.

Inside linebacker: Juniors-to-be Reggie Carter and Tim Kimbrough have been getting the first-team snaps, but UAB transfer Jake Ganus has been impressive, as have early enrollee Natrez Patrick and junior college transfer Chuks Amaechi, each of whom has rotated between inside and outside linebacker. It’s starting to look like plenty of inside linebackers will see action this fall, no matter who starts.

Meanwhile, here are a few other spots to watch in the final two weeks:

Receiver: This has emerged as a trouble spot for the offense, thanks in large part to injuries. But head coach Mark Richt was also worried about an inordinate amount of dropped passes the first couple weeks of spring practice. Will anybody emerge as a reliable complement to No. 1 receiver Malcolm Mitchell? Some have had their moments, including speedy sophomore Isaiah McKenzie, but the best candidate may not be on campus yet.

That would be Terry Godwin, the five-star recruit who arrives this summer. In the meantime, the team seems to already miss departed seniors Chris Conley and Michael Bennett.

Star position (nickel back): The fact that Reggie Wilkerson, who because of knee surgery has yet to play much his first two years on campus, was the first-team star in the second scrimmage shows this spot is still wide open. Safety Dominick Sanders and Quincy Mauger, who figure to be starting somewhere this fall, will also get a crack at the star. Malkom Parrish, the sophomore, is another candidate.

There’s still a lot of tinkering in general by Jeremy Pruitt, the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He probably has more guys he feels he can rely on than this time last year, but who will play where is up in the air.

Defensive line: Last season, this unit didn’t have a headliner, but one may be arriving this summer in mega-prospect Trent Thompson. In the meantime, nose tackle Chris Mayes has put up good numbers in the scrimmages, but overall, this unit has had a relatively quiet spring. Jonathan Ledbetter, the early enrollee, has drawn some good reviews, but good enough to contribute this fall?

Perhaps G-Day will reveal that, along with the remaining questions on this Bulldog team.

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