December 15, 2016 is a day that will live in infamy for the Bulldog Nation. It is the day that Davin Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel announced each would be returning for their senior seasons. It is also the day that expectations for the 2017 season soared through the roof. The honeymoon is over for Coach Smart & Company in their second year in Athens, and the road to greatness begins in spring practice. Here are the objectives UGA must reach to jump start a run to the SEC Championship Game!
#7. Make a Decision on Mecole
There is a reason Mecole Hardman, Jr. was a consensus Top 20 recruit in the nation for the Class of 2016. He is a quick twitch, dynamic athlete with the potential to be a lockdown cornerback on defense or an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands. This spring, the Bulldogs staff must make a decision on where his future lies. He is too talented not to put him in a position to make a game-changing impact.
#6. Who’s the Backup QB?
Entering his second season the expectation in Athens is for Jacob Eason to take the next step in his development. According to most, he is doing exactly that. However, in the SEC you are only one play away from having to rely on your backup. This spring the Bulldogs need to identify who is going to get the bulk of the reps behind Eason this fall. Is Fromm ready to take the field as a true freshman or will it be *Brice Ramsey, Park McLeod, or Sam Vaughn?
*Note: At the time Huckleberry wrote his article, Brice Ramsey had not yet announced his decision to transfer in May after he graduates from UGA.
#5. What Can the Redshirt Freshmen Do?
The Bulldogs relied heavily upon the Class of 2016 to make an impact as true freshmen but there are several redshirt freshmen ready to explode onto the scene. On an offensive line with every position up for grabs, redshirt freshmen Ben Cleveland and Solomon Kindley appear poised to make a run for the starting guard positions. At outside linebacker, Chauncey Manac was a terror coming off the edge for the scout team and expects to terrorize opposing quarterbacks this season.
#4. Find Playmakers on Perimeter
With Isaiah McKenzie moving on to the NFL the Bulldogs need to find playmakers on the perimeter who can stretch the field and keep opposing defenses from stacking the box against Chubb, Michel & Co. Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley have shown flashes of that kind of ability but Jayson Stanley, Jeremiah Holloman and Tyler Simmons each have a different level of top end speed. The Bulldogs need to find out who they have that can “go get it” when Eason unleashes a rocket down the field
#3 Identify Your Tackles
For the first time in years, the Bulldogs have the opportunity to field an offensive line with prototypical offensive tackles. With both tackle positions available the Bulldogs need to identify who they have on the current roster that can play tackle at a SEC level. Can D’Marcus Hayes be an instant impact player or will have the Bulldogs have to wait for Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson’s arrival in the fall?
#2. An Offensive Identity
Football teams begin to develop their identity during spring practice. This spring will be no different and it will be fascinating to watch what direction the Bulldogs go on offense. The offense was criticized for being bland and predictable in 2016 and Coach Chaney has promised innovation in 2017. Is the pistol formation going to be a staple of the offense after the tremendous success with it in against TCU?
#1. Seniors Take Ownership
Dominick Sanders, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel came back to Athens for their senior seasons for one thing and one thing only – WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! This is their team, this is their last chance. They must take ownership and demand effort and excellence every moment of every practice
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