ATHENS, Ga.—Following today’s Georgia practice—the fifth of fall camp, the first in pads—head coach Mark Richt addressed the media for the first time since just prior to the first preseason practice earlier in the week.
Worthy of mention, this time a year ago, upon the completion of the Bulldogs’ fifth preseason practice and the first in pads of 2014, Richt had commented that although the team had potential, it didn’t “quite have consistency yet.” And, how fitting was the head coach’s remark considering although Georgia would go on to accomplish a 10-win and top-10 campaign last season, the Bulldogs were arguably one of the most inconsistent teams in college football.
Georgia’s roller-coaster season of 2014 was highlighted with notable victories beginning with the season opener over Clemson, back-to-back road wins in mid-October at Missouri and Arkansas, over Auburn in mid-November, and capped with a Belk Bowl victory over Louisville. However, sandwich between each of the “winning” intervals were the Bulldogs’ three losses to South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia Tech, respectively, whereupon Georgia had entered each setback as a significant favorite.
Therefore, a question begging to be asked—or, at least I thought so—was this year had Georgia (or, had not like a year ago) exhibited consistency through the team’s first five preseason practices?
“It’s hard to judge that right now because we’re working so many guys,” Richt replied. “[Being consistent or not] depends on what group you’re looking at: the [first-team units] are obviously [groups] closer to where they need to be than the guys in the [third] and [fourth] units. [There’s] a lot of moving parts right now.”
From Richt’s answer, I concluded that although it’s difficult to determine whether Georgia has been consistent or not so far in fall camp, the team has not been noticeably inconsistent like last year at this time, which, if anything, is a good thing—I guess.
Another good thing for Georgia has been not only the performance of its receiving corps, but the actual number of players in the unit. During the spring, because of departures and injuries, the Bulldogs practiced at times with as few as six receivers on the entire team. However, things have certainly changed in just a few short months.
“Compared to spring we have a good number of [receivers] out there,” Richt said. “I think we’re going to be a pretty athletic bunch, but there is still a lot of learning going on with the young guys, and we’re still trying to get better at what we do. Right now I’m pleased with the unit.”
Perhaps the most pleasing of the unit has been one of the “young guys,” true freshman Terry Godwin, who certainly hasn’t performed like an inexperienced teenager thus far in fall camp. Godwin, a five-star prospect out of Callaway HS in Hogansville, Ga., has been praised by his teammates, and could very well be one of Georgia’s starting receivers when the Bulldogs open the season four weeks from now against Louisiana-Monroe. If so, Godwin will become only the second true freshman wide receiver at Georgia (behind teammate Malcolm Mitchell in 2011) in 44 years to start an season-opening game since freshmen became eligible to play in 1972.
On another note, just before Richt spoke, the media was handed a notice regarding the transfer of redshirt freshman linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes. Dukes, who was listed as the team’s fourth-string “Mike” linebacker entering fall camp, decided to transfer to another institution seeking an opportunity for more playing time.
“I really respect this kid,” Richt said of Dukes. “He really loves Georgia, and was kind of sad to leave, but he loves football too—he loves to play.”