Earlier this week I said that Mark Richt's decision to allow the players to draft teams for the G-Day game could be awesome or could blow up in his face. It didn't quite blow up in his face but it made for some awkward moments in the first half as you had first teamers, second teamers and walk-ons trying play on the same side of the ball and it produced some inconsistencies.
If you just watched the first half of the G-Day came you probably came away confused and maybe a bit worried about this year (if you weren't worried coming into the game). If you watched the second half then I think you came away with a totally different viewpoint.
Let's put it all into perspective before we anoint guys as heroes or goats. This was just a Spring Game. It's just a practice in front of fans. Also, Richt said that the teams would only be using offensive and defensive plays that they used last year so they wouldn't tip off Boise State and/or South Carolina to any wrinkles that have been added in the off-season.
That being said despite struggling mightily in the first half, the second half showed you why you should have some hope for the Dawgs this year. Aaron Murray came out of half-time on a mission and led the Dawgs right down the field for a TD.
Murray looked really efficient today and went 12 of 17 for 122, 1 TD and 1 2-pt conversion pass. Murray did take a safety early in the game but it was on a play where he would have gotten rid of the ball if they weren't playing with the protect the QB rules of the spring. Because of how the teams lined up it's really hard to say that overall the defense or the offense looked good or bad so let's talk about three guys on offense and three guys on defense that shined during the game today (I've already talked about Aaron Murray so we'll skip him but just know that he's solid):
Branden Smith, DB- While not technically an offensive player, Smith was used on offense today and was the most explosive player on the field. Last year I hyped him as Georgia's "X-Factor" and that run that he had against South Carolina as a freshman still sends chills up my spine. Unfortunately, last year Smith was riddled by injuries and didn't make much of an impact in his sophomore season. If he can stay healthy he can make an impact for Georgia on offense, defense and special teams this year. Today he had 2 catches for 38 yards and a TD and ran the ball twice for 11 yards. Doesn't sound like much but he's the type of guy who can hit a home run every time he touches the ball.
Orson Charles, TE- I featured Orson as #10 on my list of the 10 most important players for Georgia in 2011 post that I did earlier in the spring. I might have put him a tad too low, he's going to be a beast this year. He had 4 catches for 41 yards but there is just something about him that reeks of stardom this year. He's too fast for a LB and too physical for a Safety. He's a mis-match no matter who you throw against him. The other receivers looked decent today (Tav King had 5 catches and Marlon Brown had 4) but I think Orson is going to allow them to play off of him this year.
Christian LeMay, QB- LeMay didn't get to play too much today and he looked shaky at times but he had a great closing drive with the "game" on the line. Let's remember that LeMay has not played a real game since his junior year of High School so he's a bit rusty out there. He took the helm for the final drive with about four minutes left for the Black team with his team trailing. He took a bad sack to start things off but then hit two completions to get the first down.
From there he drove the team down the field for a winning TD run by Boo Malcome. He's got a good arm and he's only going to improve under Richt and Bobo. If there is one thing that Richt and Bobo excel at it's developing QBs.
Kwame Geathers, NG- Everybody has been talking about what a great spring Kwame has been having. Excuse me if I didn't buy into the hype based on the past performance of our DL last year but he really impressed me today. Maybe it was the make shift line he was playing against but Kwame was a disruptive force today. From a statistical standpoint he had 4 tackles, 2 for a loss and a forced fumble. Todd Grantham teased us by saying that he might play on the DL with John Jenkins. If Geathers and Jenkins work out then Georgia goes from having nobody to play NG last year to having two legit options and that's huge in the 3-4 and would mean a big difference in the DL this year.
Alec Ogletree, ILB- I really liked the news when Grantham moved Ogletree from Safety to ILB earlier this spring as I knew that the LB corps needed a guy like him who could make plays. Alec showed today why he's going to make a great LB at Georgia. He has great instincts and gets to the point of attack very quickly. It's going to be hard for opposing RBs to turn the corner on him this year. He also hits with authority. Think Thomas Davis when you think Alec Ogletree. He's in the spirit of the big hard hitting Safeties that Georgia has had in the past but he's going to be near the line of scrimmage where he can be a play maker. From a statistical standpoint he led his team with 7 tackles on the day.
Derrick Lott, DE- When I put together my hypothetical Georgia Defensive Depth Chart earlier this spring I had Derrick Lott pegged as the #2 DE behind Abry Jones. Well, out of the two it was Lott that shined today. He stuffed the preverbial stat sheet with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a safety. Not bad for a days work. With Geathers, Jenkins, DeAngelo Tyson, Abry Jones and Lott on the DL we could be seeing a big reversal of fortunes from last years team that couldn't get off the field on third down. Even a modest reversal from last year could mean more games in the win column for the Dawgs.