Georgian football can make up for Washington’s loss
Truth be told, Georgia’s receiving core once seemed like some of the best in college football before camp, and that was without the so-called “X-factor” George Pickens. With just two weeks to go to the season opener against Clemson, the wide receiver once again appears to be a minor concern.
The past week has been difficult in Athens; two other offensive playmakers in Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert were lost for some time in Georgia’s second full week of camp.
It was announced by Kirby Smart in his press release on Saturday a week ago that wide receiver Arik Gilbert was not with the squad due to “personal issues”, despite the news that sidelined the expected replacement. an injured George Pickens, Smart remains hopeful that he and the Bulldogs will soon have Gilbert back.
Gilbert’s news came as the Bulldogs were already starting to lose weight at the receiver level due to several players suffering from injuries. Jermaine Burton and Kearis Jackson both missed the first scrum to accompany Dominick Blaylock. Jackson and Blaylock were recovering from surgery, while Burton injured his ankle during camp.
The bad news wouldn’t end there as the latest blow to the offense is the loss of tight end Darnell Washington. Washington, like defensive back Tykee Smith, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a minor foot fracture, making his availability for Charlotte unlikely. Which begs the question of how Georgia makes up for Washington’s loss?
Rely on a young but deep reception hall
Injury aside, Georgia still builds a deep receiving hall full of talent. Young players like Adonai Mitchell and Justin Robinson have been mentioned throughout the offseason as potential contributors to breakouts this season.
Georgia also sacked two of their top three receivers in Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton. Burton was a more favorable target for Daniels a season ago, but Jackson brings the experience and skills to produce out of the slot.
Add names like Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy Jacksaint, both returning from injuries; Georgia still has some depth. Blaylock and Jacksaint flashed as freshmen before sustaining injuries. Blaylock’s injury came in the first half of the 2019 SEC Championship game against LSU, while Rosemy’s was also in the first half of Florida’s 2020 game.
Since tearing his ACL against LSU, Blaylock injured his knee again last fall and has just had his second knee surgery in the past two years. However, as a true freshman in 2019, Blaylock showed flashes of a contributor out of the slot, the post where Kearis Jackson now resides.
Georgia still have the option of building on their passing game led by quarterback JT Daniels; the real question marks were on the depth map. First, Georgia needs to find a consistent playmaker for the X-receiver, something they had with Pickens and hoped they’d have with Gilbert.
Using Deep Backfield
2021 will see a Georgian backfield filled with talent; in fact, the Dawgs will have three former five-star backers, Zamir White, James Cook and Kendall Milton. Cook and White return for senior seasons after 2020, being their first taste as the first tandem out of the backfield.
As White and Cook bring their own valuable skills, the younger ones behind them excite the fan base. Sophomore Kendall Milton has shown flashes of being the bell cow of the future.
Junior Kenny McIntosh appears to be Milton’s stable mate when White and Cook leave Athens for the NFL. McIntosh’s speed and receiving skills make him a viable option to change Milton’s raw power and strength.
A failing receiving core could force Georgia to rely more on the running game than expected. The only problem with this game plan will be executing it from the start on the offensive line. Clemson’s top seven are one of the few who can match Georgia’s talent this season.
The Tigers have a defensive line filled with elite former high school talent, led by potential first-round talent in Xavier Thomas. Finding other ways to get the ball back will help take the strain off receivers and Daniels.
Georgia is unlikely to depend heavily in one way or another; at the end of the day, they always preached to each other to be balanced offensively. So if the passing game is successful you can expect them to stick with it and vice versa. Sure, key player injuries are always a concern ahead of a top-five game like that on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m., but a win could serve as an early statement for the Dawgs as to whether or not they can be. lived up to high expectations.
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