Yesterday we opened up our post-spring Georgia Bulldogs roundtable by asking the million dollar question, who starts at quarterback for Georgia this fall. Today, we continue our roundtable as I pose the next question to our committee.
Here’s the roundtable committee:
BernieDawg- Bernie’s Dawg Blawg
Greg Poole- Bulldawg Illustrated
Senator Blutarsky- Get The Picture
Tyler Dawgden- Georgia Sports Blog
Question #2: Georgia must replace both of their leading receivers, Chris Conley (36 rec in 2014) and Michael Bennett (37 rec), this season. Barring injury, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley should be able to contribute greatly in 2015 but depth is a big concern. Who needs to step up in this area and who do you see as the other top contributors?
I would expect Isaiah McKenzie to make plenty of highlights at the WR position. We got a glimpse, albeit briefly before his injury, of just what he can do running routes. But overall, I’d like to see someone like Reggie Davis or Charlie Hegedus step up as well. I’ve heard Hegedus has great, dependable hands, much like what we’ve come to expect from Michael Bennett the last few years.
But I think the most potential for catches and yards is at the tight end position. After the two guys you mentioned that we’re trying to replace, Jeb Blazevich was third in receiving years last season…as a freshman. Jay Rome is probably as healthy as he’s been since the 2012 SEC Championship game. And Jordan Davis had a great spring game. Looking through the receiving stats, Georgia’s had a tight end in the top four in terms of yardage every season since since 2009. If the production is spread out among those three guys, we may not have a tight end towards the top in 2015, but collectively I can see where they might give Coach Schotty plenty of versatility in play calling. And they can certainly help fill the void of losing Conley and Bennett, two guys that could always be depended on to get those tough yards.
“Barring injury” is the key to any discussion of wide receivers for 2015. Charlie Hegedus, Shakenneth Williams and Isaiah McKenzie were all injured to one extent or another during spring. However, Coach Richt in his final spring presser said that all would be ready to participate in summer workouts. Additionally, Michael Chigbu, Jayson Stanley and Terry Godwin will arrive in Athens after their high school graduations. Of course, it remains to be seen if any of the 3 summer arrivals can pick up enough of the playbook to be consistent contributors in 2015.
I am not as concerned about the wide receiver position as most people. The staff was extremely careful with injured players this spring. The veterans should be ready by fall and, at least, one one of the incoming freshmen should add depth – my guess is Godwin.
Injuries in the spring appear to have screwed with depth development at the position, so it’s hard to tell until August. McKenzie seems to have impressed the coaches this spring and he looked good at G-Day, though. In the end, I think Schottenheimer will look to fill in whatever holes there are in receiving depth with the tight ends, where he’s got a lot of experienced talent to work with.
It’ll probably be some WR by committee early on with McKenzie, Towns, Reggie Davis, Shakenth Williams (if his hamstring injury heals in time), Tibbs, and NC State/KState transfer Charlie Hegedus sharing playing time, if for no other reason that they all have had the Spring to practice the playbook. Out of that group, I think we’ll see McKenzie, Hegedus, and Towns the most.
For the deep threat, I’m going with McKenzie. He has that slippery speed that will allow him to slip off physical play at the line and to flat our beat anyone but the very best CBs in the conference on foot speed. He’s not going to be a ten target a game guy, but anytime we throw to him as the first option, it’ll be homerun opportunities. Oh, I’d also love to see us run some wheel routes with him out of the backfield.
My bigger concern is I don’t see a possession receiver that both Conley and Bennett were in their career. Hopefully Rome and Blazevich will be that guy. I also like Reggie Davis to get some looks to fill that role.
One other thing, I’d expect to see Terry Godwin and Michael Chigbu to get plenty of playing time as the season plays out. While he’s a four star, Chigbu is pretty under the radar. He’s a big kid, 6-2 and played HS ball in New Orleans at 220 pounds. The knock on him is he isn’t consistent in running routes, but he could easily become that outlet over the middle guy once he gets on the same page with his QB.
I really think Isaiah McKenzie is poised for a big-time breakout season. He’s the type of guy that can make one or two plays per game that have the potential to break the game open.
In terms of the production that Bennett and Conley gave us, I think the offense will lean more on the tight end position and we will see all of those talented guys get a chance early in the season to show what they can do. If they deliver, they will be a positive part of the offense in 2015.
One guy that didn’t show up in any of the other responses is Sony Michel. Yeah, he’s a running back but in his freshman season we saw that Georgia had the ability to line him up anywhere in the offense including quarterback and wide receiver. In the first four games last year before he started to get banged up, he had six receptions with one for a touchdown. With Michel and McKenzie, Georgia has two wildcards that can be play-makers from anywhere on the field and from any situation. When it comes to making a difference in 2015, keep an eye on both of those guys.