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Legge's Thoughts: Can This Georgia Team Fight Its Way in 2022?

April 17, 2022

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ATHENS - Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs will have to be a little different in 2022, but they’ve got what they need to win big, and G Day showed that. 

Its always important to remember as much as possible that spring games are only 7% of the “spring” season. It is a bigger indication of things than, say, most of the other spring practices for obvious reasons. A. It is a scrimmage; B. Fans are there. 

But is is a very narrow look at the players on the team… the ones that have the ability to play. Kirby indicated after the game that the players injured will be ready to go before the summer. So that’s one thing to cross off the list of worries heading into the season. If the team that took the field Saturday was playing this fall it would be good. 

The one that will suit up against the Ducks will be even better. The question is how much better. Dan Planning getting his program ready fast enough to win at the Dome would be something else. I will believe it when I see it. 

Check out Dawgstruction - our coffee table book about the 2021 national title... CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Still, I saw a lot to like on Saturday. I’m not certain I saw a ton not to like, but that’s what coaches are for. I think Matt DeBary got it right saying that Stetson Bennett IV didn’t play so hot. But we know what he can do. Carson Beck certainly appeared to play well to me on Saturday, but I was on field level, and QB play is not always the easiest thing to judge form the field. Brock Vandagriff has the ability to really move with his feet. I mean, he is deadly with them. 

Could that be what matters the most in the future? I’m not sure. Beck appeared to have a hold on the No. 2 spot. And Kirby firmly talked about Bennett being the guy heading into the fall. 

I’m old enough to know not to make plans for Georgia’s quarterback situation entering the first week of the year. But Beck, to me at least, certainly seemed improved. 

Kendall Milton looks like the real deal to me. He’s just got to stay healthy for an entire season. Can he do that? He looked legit. That’s the guy I saw in California.  We know what Kenny McIntosh can do. Shit, we know what Kendall can do… 

Can the Dawgs run when they have to in 2022? 

This season will come down to maybe a game or two, which means it is going to come down to something like 20 plays. Will this team and this program be prepared for that/those moments? The truth is we can’t and don’t know the answer to that. But what I saw Saturday is a leading indicator that they can do it. 

But unlike a season ago where the Dawgs took a hammer and nail to everyone on their schedule, this season might involve screws and a screwdriver. There are different ways to win, and this year Georgia will have to out-talent less, and out fight more. 

How do you do that? 

You block kicks. You steal first downs with snap counts. You become the old knuckleball pitcher with a jar of Vaseline in his pocket. You keep folks off balance - you throw to the backs, and handoff to the receivers like Ladd McConkey and Kearis Jackson. You make the other guys cover every single player. 

This isn’t necessarily the ground and pound Kirby teams you saw in 2016 and 2017. Now you have the annoying task of dealing with everyone. I used to hate that. If you only had to worry about one thing, no matter how good, you could sort of brace for it and deal with. If you have to deal with everyone and everything… man, that can be draining. 

“Oh, this guy can hit backhands… great; I’m going to be here all day.”

Georgia had the ability to defend pretty much everything a season ago. Will they be able to do that in 2022? Will they be able to make other defenses pay with their offense’s diverse attack. Arik Gilbert, Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington are going to be a challenge to deal with. And that’s just the tight end. 

Will AD Mitchell make a jump to superstar level? Will McConkey emerge even further in Georgia’s passing game? What about Dominck Blaylock or Kearis Jackson? 

Georgia’s Kendall Milton looked like a complete running back Saturday. Could he take off in a way that’s undeniable to see? How with the offensive line come together over the off season. There are fights to have with that group. 

What about the Dawgs’ linebackers? Trezman Marshall had a solid day. So did Ingram-Hawkins and Mykel Williams. Georgia is loaded up with skill and talent. No, they are not as gifted as they were a season ago, but they are still loaded up with first round talent. 

I have to say that I like the secondary. I know it isn’t as “talented” as you would like, but it is old in a lot of spots, and old knows how to play. That’s a hard thing to describe, but something you want. 

I like this team, but no one is going to hand them the national title or SEC championship. Georgia, Kirby Smart and company are going to have to earn it. 

We will see if that happens. 

Check out Dawgstruction - our coffee table book about the 2021 national title... CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Tags: Kirby Smart
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