ATHENS —The pads go on at Georgia on Tuesday, and the intensity ramps up.
The Bulldogs were dealt a No. 3 preseason ranking on Monday from the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, but Coach Kirby Smart will see to it they continue to prepare like a championship team.
NEWS: USA Today Coaches’ Poll deals UGA another Top 5 start
Georgia certainly has looked the part in drills and workouts, loaded with well-conditioned large, fast and athletic players at every position, showing no appearance of drop-off from last season’s CFP Championship squad.
It’s hard to see missing experience, but Smart is aware of it, and that’s why he’s coaching hard on a defense that lost eight players to the NFL draft, including five first rounds.
Here’s a quick take on every position entering the padded portion of fall drills:
Quarterback: Stetson Bennett has said he needs to improve decision-making and footwork — easily trumping new haircut and T-shirt selection as the key storyline.
Running back: Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton are headed for breakout seasons, NFL talents who will benefit greatly from the pending TE mismatches.
Tight ends: Brock. Darnell. Arik. Oscar. The most imposing TE room in CFB history. Really.
Offensive Line: The most athletic unit Smart has had, and with new line coach Stacy Searels, it could prove to be the nastiest.
Receivers: Adonai Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, Dominick Blaylock and Kearis Jackson are capable. Can Arian Smith and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint remain healthy?
Defensive line: Jalen Carter has all the talents, but can he fill the massive leadership void left by Face of 2021 champs, Jordan Davis?
Linebackers: Kirby says all this new group needs is opportunity. They sure looked good in G-Day Game.
Secondary: Imminent drop-off at safety with Lewis Cine’s departure, but Chris Smith ready to elevate, and corners Daylen Everette, Nyland Green and Kamari Lassiter battling opposite Kelee Ringo.