Eason, Chubb keys to Georgia's hopes for offensive revival
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) There was a glaring omission in Georgia's game-week notes package released to media on Monday - no depth chart for the No. 15 Bulldogs.
Second-year coach Kirby Smart wants to go through the final week of practice for Saturday's season-opening visit from Appalachian State before revealing his starters and backups.
Asked Monday about his starting offensive line, Smart said ''We haven't determined it yet.''
''That has not been determined yet,'' he said. ''We think it will be decided here shortly, though.''
There were similar responses for the starting secondary and backup running backs.
No depth chart is necessary to know quarterback Jacob Eason and tailback Nick Chubb will be key starters for a Georgia offense that must improve to meet the team's preseason expectations. Georgia finished only 8-5 in Smart's first season but was picked by media to win the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division this year.
Georgia ranked only 11th in the league in scoring last season.
Eason, who started the last 12 games as a freshman last season, has acknowledged he struggled at times to make the transition from high school in Lake Stevens, Washington. Coaches and players say they have seen a more confident Eason this summer .
''He's definitely a lot more comfortable,'' tight end Jeb Blazevich said Monday. ''He really understands the offense a lot better.''
Blazevich said he was ''definitely impressed'' with Eason's play as a freshman ''but now he has more to build on that and take that knowledge to a new level.''
As Eason's production wavered, defenses focused on containing the running game led by Chubb and Sony Michel last season. Chubb still ran for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns in his comeback from major knee surgery that ended his 2015 season.
Chubb is the second-leading rusher in Georgia history, behind Herschel Walker, and could be in position to show he is back to the form that produced 13 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing before the injury.
''He looks much quicker,'' Smart said recently. ''His cuts seem faster. He is running at a good pad level. He runs really hard. He seems to be healthy.''
There will be some newcomers at wide receiver.
Smart said last week transfer Ahkil Crumpton ''catches everything that's thrown to him.'' Mecole Hardman, a converted cornerback, also could play a big role.
Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley are among the Bulldogs' top returning receivers. Georgia lost Isaiah McKenzie and Reggie Davis to the NFL's Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, respectively.
Smart said there is ''no set plan'' to create playing time for freshman backup quarterback Jake Fromm against Appalachian State.
''Jacob Eason is our quarterback,'' Smart said.
NOTES: Smart said the status of CB Malkom Parrish, recovering from surgery two weeks ago to repair a broken bone in his foot, is ''still not determined yet. ... We are trying to get him back for this game.'' ... Ridley and backup RB Elijah Holyfield are expected to be suspended for the opener as discipline for misdemeanor marijuana charges in separate incidents last spring. Smart would not confirm the suspensions, saying the discipline ''will be handled internally.'' ... Georgia could start two true freshmen: RT Andrew Thomas and S Richard LeCounte. ... Cameron Nizialek, a transfer from Columbia University, is expected to be the starting punter.
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