Friday, August 25, 2017

Eason's offense, questions and maybe some answers

It's pretty easy to feel comfortable with a defense that returns so much talent and experience, especially up front. Trent Thompson will lead a unit backed by promising stars such as Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick. And there's also a couple senior linebackers that put off professional dreams for one more season to try and live up to their potential in Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter.

And I've also pointed out some reasons to feel pretty comfortable with the 2017 slate of games. The home schedule may not offer much at first glance, but I'm encouraged that playing teams like App State and Samford under Sanford Stadium's lights should provide a better atmosphere than last year's game against Nicholls State. And hopefully the scoreboard takes it easy on our nervous system as well.

So most of the questions/concerns I have are on offense and special teams:

  • What will Eason in year two look like?
  • If When a game comes down to a kick, do we have someone the coaches trust and have prepared for just such an occasion?
  • Will Chaney call plays for an offense that is working on the same page consistently?
  • The offensive line can't be worse than last year, but exactly how much better will it be with so much youth?
  • Can Mecole step in for McKenzie in both the return game as well as the dependable slot receiver position that we depend on so much?
Those are the big ones right now. For that last question, I'm encouraged when I read things like this from Terry Godwin:
“Whenever the ball is up, he’s going to go get it,” Godwin said of Hardman. “When you see that burst of speed, I mean, I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time. He has something special.”
A lot of people were wondering last year where Hardman was and why he wasn't getting more looks with the ball in his hands. I certainly hope he makes the coaches sorry they kept him on defense last year. It might leave a sour feeling in our guts for what might have been last year, but it could sweeten our tea a bit if he can produce like we seem to be counting on him to.

As for Eason, I'm not concerned at all really. It's good to have Ramsey back as insurance, and I think Fromm has the talent to step in if needed this season. And he certainly has the game to challenge Eason in the future.

But this is Eason's season to shine. On the latest Waitin' Since Last Saturday podcast, Lietch and UGA beat writer Emerson discuss the pressure on Eason in the offseason. They point out something that we tend to forget - #10 won a game against Missouri with his arm, and should've won one against Tennessee as well. I would also add that it was his throw to McKenzie that turned the tide against the Tar Heels in the opener.

So we know what he can do in pressure situations and we've seen him make all the throws. Can he have the time to make all the reads this season? Will his deep ball provide a more consistent threat to stretch the opposing defense? Will the receivers drop less passes that are on target?

I think our quarterback is poised for a great season. I think our offensive line is built more for what Pittman and Chaney are aiming for up front. Hopefully that means we can use Nauta and Blazevich as receivers more. And it sounds like Chubb 2017 is back to his old 2015 self, and behind him is enough talent to fill the entire SEC East with starting tailbacks.

We saw what quarterbacks like Greene, Stafford, and Murray were able to do in their second season. They all did so with a competent if not good offensive line, well rounded running backs and receivers to keep defenses honest. If Eason is afforded the same luxuries those guys had, it could be a lot more fun to watch the offense this season than it has since Murray graduated.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Overcoming the Malkom Parrish injury

Smart said it's no "doomsday". And I tend to think the senior defensive back will be ready for the opener against App State. But it's worth looking at what our secondary would be like without him through the rest of August's practices as well as the season opener. After all...
“We could sit around and cry and whine about it. But it’s not a position we’re real deep at right now. It’s not a great situation but that’s what football is, guys. In football, you’re going to have injuries and you have to overcome them.”
In the short term, the lack of depth and experience in the secondary will get a boost as those young guys get more reps. There should be a lot of raw talent there and I imagine Smart will have a keen eye on their progress while Parrish is on crutches healing that tender foot.

But in the long term, with uncertainty and now an injury to a key starter, we should definitely be worried about our secondary unit opening up against a team that likes to chunk the rock around. Taylor Lamb is a senior quarterback for the Mountaineers and he'll bring a squad of shifty, athletic, and TALL receivers.

Parrish has experience, but the younger guys behind him have more the height you'd like to see at this level. Kirby and staff have been recruiting it, hard. Tyrique McGhee is largely believed to be the first guy behind Parrish. McGhee brings some game experience and will certainly be counted on regardless of whether Parrish makes it back for the opener or not. But I'd bet these freshmen step up to show what they can do.

At least I hope so. Because an injury can be a setback. But it can also be an opportunity. Is Parrish's injury just a chance at some more reps in shells? Personally, with their talent and size, I'd love to see someone like Speed, Brini or Poole step up and earn some actual playing time.