ATHENS — It was just a spring game.
In September, when the 2012 football season begins for the Georgia Bulldogs, none of the yards, points or interceptions will matter.
And yet, I can’t help but imagine that the Georgia coaches can breathe a little easier after seeing the team in their annual G-Day spring showcase.
The game was exciting for the fans as it came down to a 2-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. But it was the performances from some unexpected places earlier in the game that should answer some questions about the team’s direction in the fall.
Recently, we’ve heard nothing but negative coming out of Athens — potential suspensions early in the season called into question whether the team would be able to seize on its golden opportunity in the fall. The secondary, with three potential suspensions at the beginning of the season, appeared to be a major question mark.
But with strong performances from backup defensive backs like Devin Bowman, players and coaches alike should feel more comfortable going into the beginning of the season.
The running back situation, another perceived weakness in the previous season, also appears to be more of a strength than before. Running back Isaiah Crowell, the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year, showed a combination of burst and power at times in the spring game that had coach Mark Richt pleased with his player’s performance.
Redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome perhaps outplayed Crowell, rushing for more yards per carry and two touchdowns in the game.
An improvement from those two, along with the addition of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley in the fall, could turn the position into a strength.
There are still plenty of questions surrounding the team.
Wide receiver Marlon Brown, who fans have hoped to see grow into the star he was advertised as coming onto the team three years ago, never seemed to make a connection with quarterback Aaron Murray in the game.
Questions remain, and I imagine few real issues were answered for the coaches in this game.
“We had a pretty good idea of what we had coming into the game,” Richt said after the game.
But for the fans, it was an opportunity to see the team for the first time since a disappointing loss against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.
The defense, suspensions not withstanding, appears to be in a good place. The offense, helped by the talented junior quarterback Murray, played well against the first-team defense.
We may not be ready to crown them favorites in the SEC East. The season is still too far away for that. But in a period in which fans are dying for some fix of college football, the Bulldogs delivered an exciting game that should have them ready for the 2012 season.
David Mitchell is a sports writer for The Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org