5 things to watch at UGA’s spring game

ATHENS – Kirby Smart sounds like a referee talking to two boxers before a big fight: He wants a good, tight game for Georgia’s spring game. He split up the teams pretty evenly, first-team offense on one side, first-team defense on the other, hoping it sets up a close, hotly-contested game.

And even if it isn’t, they’ll pretend it’s close anyway in the last four minutes. G-Day is, after all, still officially a practice.

But the fans and media will be interested in more than just the outcome of the game. Do you remember whether the Red or Black won last year? Probably not. Do you remember that Jacob Eason looked great? Yes, you do.

So here, in descending order, are the top five things worth focusing on Saturday at Sanford Stadium:

5. The kickers

There will be one main place-kicker and one main punter. It’s just not certain that either will be the starter once the preseason rolls around.

Place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship would, under normal circumstances, be assured of retaining his job after a strong redshirt freshman season. But with his scholarship situation in flux, and with graduate transfer David Marvin arriving in August, Blankenship needs to keep kicking well. So while Saturday’s game won’t matter too much, given his track record, Blankenship’s kicks will be closely-watched – especially the kickoffs.

It’s the reverse at punter, where the one who will be punting on Sautrday is the graduate transfer trying to grab the job from the incumbent. Cameron Nizialek, who transferred from Columbia, will be playing Saturday in front of the biggest crowd he’s played in. Marshall Long, who was okay as a freshman last year before hurting his kneecap, is due back this summer.

4. The young tailbacks

Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield have been getting a long look this spring, and have both had good moments. Herrien, coming off a surprising freshman season, has continued looking good. Holyfield, who hardly played last year, had a good scrimmage last Saturday.

Those two are trying hard to force their way onto the field. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are obviously entrenched, but with both being used more in the passing game, especially Michel, that could open up carries for the younger guys. And Herrien could get touches at receiver.

3. How fresh-looking is the offense

As part of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s offseason effort to “freshen up” the offense, the team is using more run-pass options, giving the quarterback more ability to audible or change things before a…

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