It’s an interesting experiment Mark Richt is conducting by deciding to give up the time-honored two-a-day practices this preseason.
On the one hand, he’s bucking the traditional school of thought that forcing players to endure at least a few days of double practices in the late summer heat helps build physical endurance and mental toughness. Bear Bryant’s legendary “10 days of hell” camp for the “Junction Boys” during his time at Texas A&M set the template back in the 1950s. You might have seen ESPN’s movie about it.
But even schools keeping two-a-days have cut back on them in recent years because the increased risk of injury caused by fatigue is exacerbated by today’s scholarship limits. Even with one-a-days, many teams emerge from preseason camp literally limping — remember all those hurt hamstrings in Athens last year?
Speaking of last year’s preseason practices, you can apply the results to either school of thought here since the Dogs frankly looked fatigued and a bit dead-legged in the opener against Oklahoma State.
Was that because of too much practice or not enough? Georgia actually only had two days of two-a-days last year (the third scheduled day ended up being Richt’s annual surprise trip to the swimming pool for the team), so the move to all one-a-days isn’t that big a change. Did the Dogs drag against Okie State because they were tired or because they hadn’t practiced hard enough and weren’t in tip-top condition?
The folks who might come down on the latter side of the argument point to the season before last when the injury bug that hit Georgia prompted Richt to cut back on contact in practices. The resulting deterioration of fundamental skills on the team, particularly on defense, was alarming to the head coach, who admitted he’d made a mistake and returned to tackling in practice for the bowl game.
Was it really the lack of contact that plagued the defense, or simply poor coaching and preparation on the part of Willie Martinez? Another good point of debate.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo acknowledged the give and take in this decision when he noted that with one practice a day the coaches can spend more time teaching the game plan, but “you might not be able to get as tough as you would like them.”
Georgia will still have the same number of practices (29), only spread out over a longer period, with practices starting a bit earlier this year. That longer overall practice period might help counteract the loss of the two-a-days ordeal and wind up improving overall conditioning.
One things’s for sure: A noon game in early September in the stifling heat and humidity of Columbia will be the first major test of Richt’s new approach. And if the Dogs don’t look in good shape early this season, a lot of fingers will be pointed at the coach’s new practice schedule.
Bobo confirmed in his media briefing Wednesday that the plan is for Logan Gray to work full-time at receiver this preseason, which shouldn’t really be a surprise. Anything less than that would mean the coaching staff was really only giving lip service to Gray’s desire to play receiver. If he’s going to have a chance at all to contribute at that position, he needs to focus on it fully. And if, God forbid, he’s needed at QB, his three years of work at that position should help ease the transition back behind center. As Bobo noted, Georgia’s lack of experience and depth at QB this season is going to be “scary” no matter how Gray practices. … Dontavius Jackson’s decision to transfer is probably the best thing that could happen for him and the Georgia team. And it shouldn’t really change Bobo’s running game, since all the carries in games that matter are likely to go to Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. Odds are Carlton Thomas will remain a situational back. Beyond that, Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald asked Bobo about incoming freshman Ken Malcome’s potential contribution, and while the coach was noncommittal, he did say that he liked the fact that from what he’s seen Malcome appears to be a physical runner who breaks tackles. That’s always good to hear.