Georgia Football: Mark Richt's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice
The Georgia Bulldogs held their annual G-Day spring game this past Saturday, but spring practice sessions didn't quite end there for head coach Mark Richt's squad. The team was back at it Tuesday and will wrap up with its final practice Thursday.
In a season of change, most Bulldog fans have been encouraged by a few marked improvements on the defensive side of the ball (though there's still a lot of work to be done) and the poise of the offense under new full-time starter Hutson Mason. That being said, there are still a number of concerns for the team heading into the summer months.
For Richt, these are the four biggest concerns following spring practice.
The most glaring deficiency of this Bulldogs team remains in the defensive secondary. New coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has made strides in simplifying the defense and developing individual players, but the secondary still looked lost all too often during the spring game.
On the day, Georgia's two split squads accounted for 743 yards of offense. Over 77 percent of that yardage (578 yards) came through the air. Most notably, both Mason and backup Faton Bauta accounted for more than 230 yards passing.
Seven players hauled in receptions in excess of 25 yards. Ten players registered multiple receptions. The secondary consistently lost track of receivers, and those missteps overshadowed several noticeable improvements (namely, more aggressive play and better open-field tackling).
A lot of players saw action on G-Day, but what Georgia needs now is a core group of playmakers who can make an impact in the fall. On G-Day, that group wasn't present.
As poor as Georgia's defense looked at times on G-Day, it was still playing against a depleted offense.
The Bulldogs desperately need the following players to recover and return to the offensive side of the ball:
- Keith Marshall, RB: 1,207 career yards of offense, 11 touchdowns
- Malcolm Mitchell, WR: 1,307 career yards of offense, eight touchdowns
- Justin Scott-Wesley, WR: 446 career receiving yards, three touchdowns
- Jay Rome, TE: 251 career receiving yards, two touchdowns
If healthy, Keith Marshall is the ultimate change of pace when star running back Todd Gurley needs a break, and Malcolm Mitchell could be the team's best receiver. Justin Scott-Wesley will add depth, and Jay Rome would be Georgia's lone experienced threat at the tight end position.
Can Georgia survive without these players? Yes, but it won't be pretty.
Based on Georgia's spring awards, Georgia's offensive line seems to be taking shape nicely.
According to Seth Emerson of Macon's Telegraph, the offense's MVP was David Andrews, a three-year starter at the center position. Even more encouraging was guard Greg Pyke's selection as Most Improved Player.
John Theus and Kolton Houston are back (along with Andrews) as returning starters, and Pyke has seemingly cemented himself as a starter at one of the guard positions, although there's still been some shuffling. Meanwhile, Mark Beard also seems to have worked his way into the lineup.
For Richt, the concern this offseason is cohesion between this new group, as every player in that starting group, with the exception of Andrews, played multiple positions this spring. The best possible organization of personnel needs to be identified, and that structure may yet include players like Brandon Kublanow and Watts Dantzler.
Georgia has already dismissed one starter (safety Josh Harvey-Clemons) from the team this offseason, and four other players (James DeLoach, Tray Matthews, Uriah LeMay and John Taylor) were arrested on the eve of spring practice.
With the Bulldogs opening the season against Clemson at home before traveling to play South Carolina on the road, Richt can ill afford to start the season with missing personnel.
Like every other coach in the country, Richt is hoping his players take care of business this offseason in the classroom, in the weight room and away from campus.