If Georgia's annual G-Day Game is a meaningless scrimmage, this year's edition may end up feeling like the NFL preseason exhibition version of that -- the Red and Black teams' rosters may be more notable for who's not on them than who is. The blue-chippers such as Isaiah Crowell and John Jenkins from this year's heralded recruiting class won't be in Athens until the summer, of course, while a recent pileup of injuries means that, among other key figures, Washaun Ealey, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings and Brandon Boykin won't take the field either.
Which begs two questions: Given how few defensive backs both teams had to pick from, will defensive coordinator Todd Grantham further shake up his system and throw a curveball out there in the form of a 3-5-3 alignment? And will the sidelined players serve water/Gatorade duties for this game, or does Kathryn Richt do that for G-Day, too?
Threadbare attempts at humor aside, here are the questions you may get some actual insight into if you're going to be at Sanford Stadium today:
- How is the Dawgs' receiving corps progressing without A.J. Green? Minus the 2011 recruits, most of this year's receivers are expected to play today. Tavarres King (Red team) is the elder statesman on the WR roster, but Marlon Brown (Black) will be expected to step up in a big way at flanker. Israel Troupe (Red) and Rantavious Wooten (Black) could also stand to make some big plays after virtually disappearing in 2010.
- Is there a new attitude in the backfield? Crowell and Ealey may not be suited up today, but that doesn't make the contributions of Caleb King (Red) and Ken Malcome (Black) any less important. It's no secret that King and Ealey made bigger headlines in 2010 with their infractions off the field than anything they did on the field, so King, for his part, needs to make G-Day the start of his redemption story -- while Malcome, for his part, has the chance to make a strong case for more playing time. Better blocking from the O-line, of course, is a big part of that equation, and we'll get a glimpse of how that's going to work without the services of Trinton Sturdivant.
- How's the 3-4 coming along? Though we won't get to see nose tackle John Jenkins just yet, coaches have been blown away by the way Kwame Geathers (Black) has both bulked up and improved his game on the defensive line. He'll spend most of his time at end this year, but if Grantham's accolades are any indication, he'll make a pretty good fill-in at nose this afternoon. We'll also get to see the first glimpses of what Jarvis Jones (Red), Richard Samuel (Black) and Alec Ogletree (Black) will look like at linebacker, along with the rest of the LB corps, which will be mostly injury-free for today's game.
The 2011 G-Day Game kicks off at 1 p.m. EDT and will be televised on CSS.