Spring ball has come to college football programs across the country, and the University of Georgia is no different. The Bulldogs have been in the thick of spring practice the last few weeks. The Bulldogs will play their last scrimmage before thousands of fans as the red team takes on the black team in the annual G-Day Spring Game this weekend. There are several important storylines and things I am looking forward to seeing play out in this game. Here are just a few reasons to tune in on Saturday afternoon.
1. Nick Chubb
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I love watching Nick Chubb play. He is not only a great running back, but he is genuinely fun to watch. He had an amazing true freshman season where he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns despite not starting the first 5 games of the season due to the presence of Todd Gurley. Despite limited starts and sharing the backfield with Gurley, he still finished as one of the top rushers in the SEC and was 69 yards short of the great Herschel Walker’s freshman rushing record at UGA. This guy has bruising power and strength but also is equipped with blazing speed. He has the potential to rush for over 200 yards each game he plays, and you just don’t know what to expect when you see Chubb hit the field. He is arguably the best returning back in the SEC, and many pundits have labeled Chubb as a 2015 Heisman candidate.
So yeah, will Nick Chubb see a lot of playing time at the G-Day game? Probably not. I sure wouldn’t risk injury, but I know he will get his touches. I’ll be interested to see how many carries Chubb will receive because I know for a fact that he is chomping at the bit to get out there this Saturday.
2. The Quarterback Play
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The biggest question for the 2015 Bulldogs is definitely quarterback. Mark Richt has continued to make it clear that the QB competition is still wide open. However, it appears as if Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta might be separating themselves from Jacob Park as the two main contenders in the quarterback race. Brice Ramsey was backup to Hutson Mason in 2014 and with his limited playing time he went 24-39 passing for 333 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Faton Bauta was brought in, and his known strength was his legs. However, he is not just a runner anymore as he has really developed his passing game. He is also known as one of the hardest workers on the team. Jacob Park needs to have a good spring game to make a statement. Although Park hasn’t been at the top of the stat sheet for quarterback play, he might be the most talented of all the signal-callers in Athens. The spring game will be a big stage for these three quarterbacks to showcase their skills and hopefully make a case for them to start in the fall.
3. The Secondary
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In my opinion, the biggest question at UGA (besides who will finish on top in the quarterback race) is how will the secondary fare in Pruitt's second year leading the defense. The secondary has been UGA's weak link the last couple of years although improvement was seen last year. The unit is still young but two guys in safeties Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders have separated themselves as the top playmakers in this group. Damian Swann is gone at the corner position, so someone must step up to fill the void.
I will be interested to see how the rest of the guys play. Several guys showed flashes of brilliance in 2014 like Aaron Davis, Malkom Parrish, Tramal Terry, etc, but they have to be more consistent. UGA does have fresh talent coming in the summer, so the guys already in Athens need to step up and make a statement in the defensive backfield.
4. The Impact of Jake Ganus
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We all know now the sad situation at UAB. The Blazer's football program was shut down and many players were on their own and had to find new destinations to play the great game of college football. Enter Jake Ganus, an inside linebacker and leading tackler at UAB with 71 total tackles and 6 sacks. During the offseason, Ganus decided to transfer to UGA and finish his career in Athens. He is a little undersized for the typical SEC ILB at 6-2, 222 pounds, but make no mistake, he has been making waves in the spring. He has impressed coaches with his ability to make plays and was even awarded the Coffee County Hustle Award at the end of the spring.
Ganushas consistently been one of the most impressive players on defense and has always been at the top of the stat sheet. He led the team with 10 tackles in UGA's last spring scrimmage. I have heard a lot about Ganus, and I am interested to see him on the field. Ganus came in at the perfect time to hopefully help fill the hole in the middle of UGA's defense after the departures of star MLBs Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera. By all indications, Jake Ganus should have a significant impact.
5. The Utilization of Isaiah McKenzie
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McKenzie certainly had a huge impact as a freshman in 2014. The 5-8, 164-pound wide receiver from the Miami area showed why he was given the nickname of "The Human Joystick." McKenzie burst onto the scene in Athens in 2014 and is clearly a special player. He possesses amazing speed and agility but is also extremely elusive. He was used in a variety of ways at UGA last season including as a kick returner, a punt returner, a slot receiver, etc.
McKenzie also possesses good hands, and the coaches have put him at one of the regular receiver positions. I'll be interested to see McKenzie's exact utilization in the spring game and his role in the offense this upcoming season. He could be a very important piece in Georgia's thin receiving corps come the fall.