G-Day Preview: What Needs to be Seen at Each Offensive Position

Georgia Football battles itself Saturday at Sanford Stadium in the annual G-Day game. All eyes are on an offense that has the potential to become an explosive group in 2021.
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Georgia Football hosts the G-Day game this Saturday at Sanford Stadium. 

For the first time in the Kirby Smart era, the offense is apparently ahead of the defense, even without wide receivers George Pickens and Jermaine Burton. That's likely because of the experience at most positions, but it also speaks to the coaching staff's ability to evaluate talent as several young players have already earned playing time.

That's just what coaches and sources are saying. The general public has yet to see and judge the 2021 Georgia offense for itself. It will get that chance this Saturday.

Quarterback

Going into the 2021 season, the Georgia quarterbacks room has fewer questions to answer than it had in previous years. Smart has already named JT Daniels as the starter, but that doesn’t mean there isn't competition in the room. 

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Redshirt freshman Carson Beck and true freshman Brock Vandagriff are battling for the backup job. Both have flashed during spring practice, but a dominant performance in the G-Day game could give one of them the edge heading into summer workouts. 

Regardless of who is behind center, what Georgia fans are hoping to see from the quarterbacks is the ability to push the ball downfield. Smart made some fans very happy this past Saturday when he told reporters that the offense wanted to attack opposing defenses with a vertical passing game. 

Wide receiver

With Pickens out for the season and Burton out for the spring, Georgia is looking for the next man to step up during the G-Day game. The wide receiver group's combination of veterans and young talent provides the perfect condition for that to happen. 

Junior Kearis Jackson will undoubtedly display the same steadying presence he showed last year, and reports from practice indicate that senior Demetris Robertson has made a big jump this offseason. Coming off an injury last season, redshirt freshman Arian Smith will finally show off the blazing speed that makes him a devastating vertical threat. 

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Freshman Adonai Mitchell has received a lot of buzz during spring practice and a great showing at G-Day would be the first glimpse Georgia fans get of a star in the making.

Having talent and experience in the room should provide wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton some confidence in his group, but they will still have to show it on the field. Their performance is crucial for Georgia's national title hopes.

While it won’t be the end of the world if the receiving corps isn’t electric during G-Day, it would undoubtedly temper the team’s expectations heading into the summer.

Offensive Line

Perhaps the unit with the most questions to answer coming into G-Day is the offensive line. The Bulldogs lost two starters to the draft, the most of any position group on the offensive side of the ball. Center Trey Hill and guard Ben Cleveland were stalwarts. Georgia's potential hinges on how it replaces their production.

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The returning starters are right tackle Warren McClendon, guard Justin Schaffer, and last year’s left tackle, Jamaree Salyer. Junior Warren Ericson and redshirt freshman Sedrick Van Pran are battling to replace Hill at center. Ericson saw playing time at the position last year, but the talented Van Pran is certainly in the mix. 

Salyer played well at left tackle last year, but he'll move to guard this year as that's a better position for him in assistant coach Matt Luke's offensive line system, as well as his long-term NFL future. His move leaves a spot open at left tackle and the competition for that job is fierce. Redshirt sophomore Xavier Truss and incoming freshman Broderick Jones are splitting reps with the ones this spring.

Regardless of which players get the start Saturday, the offensive line’s main objective will be the same. Their task is to battle in the trenches against Georgia's veteran front seven.

Whether it is protecting the quarterback or opening holes in the run game, the reshuffled Georgia offensive line will have its work cut out for them. If they have success on Saturday, it will go a long way to answering many questions about the unit.

Running Back

Crowded was the only way to describe Georgia's running back room coming into spring practice, and while it is less so now, there are still plenty of mouths to feed during G-Day. 

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Junior Kenny McIntosh's injury and freshman Lovasea Carroll’s move to cornerback has allowed senior James Cook, junior Zamir White and sophomore Kendall Milton to get more touches throughout spring practice. All three have talent and experience. Sophomore Daijun Edwards continues to have "don't forget about me" performances.

Smart has made it clear that pass protection was a big focus for this group in the spring. The running backs will have to provide Daniels time to throw deep passes. If they can do that, the backs will help their own cause in the running game.

Tight End

The tight-end position has experienced a renaissance on every level in the last half-decade. An influx of talented and athletic big men in the sport has restored value to the position. Georgia is stocked at tight end this year. 

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Returning junior John FitzPatrick and sophomore Darnell Washington are joined by incoming freshman Brock Bowers. Bowers was a top-three tight-end recruit in the 2021 class, and according to reports, he is already getting reps with the first team.

Going into G-Day, fans hope to see continued growth from FitzPatrick and Washington and get their first look and Bowers. If the tight-end room as a whole can take the next step, it will alleviate the pressure on Georgia’s banged-up receiving corps.

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