Dogs come out of spring drills with areas of concern lingering

Caleb King and the running game didn't make much of an impression at G-Day. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Caleb King and the running game didn't make much of an impression at G-Day. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

There were some aspects of what we saw in the G-Day game that definitely should be encouraging to Dogs fans, particularly when it comes to the defensive side of the ball.

But a lot of the questions facing Mark Richt and his staff as they entered spring drills remain unanswered and could be potential areas of concern.

Since they were split up between two teams, it was difficult to get a real fix on where the offensive line stands, but as I noted in my G-Day wrap-up the run-blocking still was unimpressive and there were too many sacks given up. And, unfortunately, this is one area where the incoming true freshmen aren’t likely to make much of a difference. The OL worries me. A lot.

As for the running game, the best you can grade it after G-Day is an “incomplete,” since Washaun Ealey sat out most of the spring and Isaiah Crowell is still finishing up high school. Caleb King was solid but not spectacular in his handful of carries and doesn’t appear likely to suddenly develop into a game-changer. Ken Malcome is a work in progress but far from ready to be a featured back. And Carlton Thomas did nothing to change the impression that, at best, he should be a change-of-pace back on outside plays.

But if Georgia’s prospects at tailback rely on Crowell duplicating the true-freshman success of South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore right from the start, well, that might be bucking the odds. Still, at least the Dogs are looking at a major talent infusion in the tailback corps come August.

The G-Day showing of the receiving corps was a mixed bag. Tavarres King looked pretty good, though he’s not going to make anyone forget about A.J. Green. But beyond him, there’s still a big question mark. Marlon Brown remains inconsistent. Michael Bennett and Chris Conley are still developing. Come August, Malcolm Mitchell could indeed have an opportunity to establish himself as a freshman like A.J. did. But my money is on hybrid tight end Orson Charles, Richt’s “overall MVP of the spring,” to become Aaron Murray’s go-to guy, especially early in the season.

On the other side of the ball, prospects are definitely brighter on the defensive line and at linebacker after the spring, but we still don’t know who, if anyone, is going to step up at safety. Generally, though, there are fewer questions lingering about the defense than there are on offense.

Those are my concerns coming out of G-Day. What are yours?

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

213 comments Add your comment

Me

April 19th, 2011
10:55 am

Caleb Queen is a joke.

Vince Drooley

April 19th, 2011
11:03 am

My biggest concern is that, yet again, we don’t have a mascot. I don’t think Russ is up to the challenge.

KingDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:06 am

Jake Scott still has a year of eligibility left.

Minnesota Dawg

April 19th, 2011
11:07 am

Just maybe we could have another Hershel Walker in Crowell. Wouldn’t that be great! Go Dawgs!

Dawgs97

April 19th, 2011
11:09 am

Bill, normally I agree with you, wholeheartedly, but not in this case. Ken ‘Boo’ Malcome was arguably the second most impressive guy at the game after Kwame Geathers. I thought Caleb King looked healthy and strong. I think RB, with those 2 + Crowell will be deep, even Ealey still. But you are way way underrating Ken Malcolme…everyone else I talked to who watched that game were extremely impressed with him.

They simply didn’t throw the ball enough to Tavarres King, but he’s very good and you left out Branden Smith, who I think will also become a factor at WR. Plus, Michael Bennett was impressive and could be another Kris Durham for us. And add those guys to Orson Charles and Aron White at TE and there’s enough weapons for Aaron Murray, a guy who has a chance to be the best Quarterback in the SEC.

Plus, where we do agree, the defense is about to be ten notches better this year. Geathers and Jenkins up front is going to be very nasty.

D A DoubleU G

April 19th, 2011
11:18 am

Bill,

go adjust your filters. I spend way too much time writing an insightful post only to have it blocked for some unknown reason. There was NOTHING wrong with the post i just attempted.

Thank you.

It Ain't Rocket Science

April 19th, 2011
11:23 am

I don’t think you can make an honest evaluation of where any unit is at, based on a media day game practice that wraps up spring practice. The units were not even playing together as a whole on this day. After last year, the O line has nowhere to go but up and I believe they will be a good unit, but probably a year away from being a dominating one. If they can control the line of scrimmage, I think the Offense will be greatly improved. They do not need to dominate the line of scrimmage, just hold up and give the QB some time and the Rb’s a hole or two to get through. Ball control will be the answer to the success for the offense this year. The defense is going to be special I believe and creat a fair amount of turnovers and 3 and outs. The offense has got to do it’s part and not expect the defense to be on the field 45 minutes of each game. Above all, we will need to cut down on offensive errors that give the other team an advantage.

icallbs

April 19th, 2011
11:24 am

D A DoubleU G:

I think there is a glitch in their program. It probably has to do with posts from different parties being entered almost simultaneously. I’ve had the same thing happen more than once.

observer

April 19th, 2011
11:35 am

Michael bennet was impressive? he didnt even catch anything. Blake Sailors shut him down.

Bo

April 19th, 2011
11:36 am

I’m worried about the O-line…it’s always my worry with UGA. If we can get moderate production from the running game, I’ll have no worries about the receiving corps. I think Charles, King and the #2 WR by committee will be plenty potent enough to put points on the board.

As for the defense it’s like I said last year: If the line can stop the run and get pressure on the QB with 4 men, we’ll have a top 5 defense at the end of the year. The secondary was hung out to dry last season without a decent line.

billyboy

April 19th, 2011
11:37 am

Great news about no arrests thus far. Coach Richt has been texting them to take care of business. He may want to define business a little better. That may be the wrong encouragement for some of them.

chilidawg

April 19th, 2011
11:41 am

I hope Crowell is ready to work. He could be special if his head is screwed on straight.

Frank Lane

April 19th, 2011
11:41 am

Connor Norman is another Jake Scott or Scott Woerner if he just gets the chance.

Mtn Dawg

April 19th, 2011
11:42 am

I’m not looking for Crowell to be another Lattimore. No one commented on Lynch at FB. How did he do?

Frank Lane

April 19th, 2011
11:43 am

Or Kirby Smart

AltamahaDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:44 am

The program is designed to allow 1 sensible post for every 5 insulting worthless troll posts. You just need to wait about 2 minutes. Once it reads koolaid, irrelevant, and mediocrity, a couple of times, it will let you back in. Or Try inserting the term “clown” in your post somewhere, that should trigger an opening.

Vance Duly

April 19th, 2011
11:44 am

Well, we still ran the play-action fake on a 3rd and long, as though that would somehow fool the defense into thinking we were going to run the ball. All it does is take the QB’s eyes off of the downfield passing options. I hope Coach Bobo used spring practice to hone his play-calling skills! The offensive line wasn’t very impressive……but Geathers surely was.

dawgfacedboy

April 19th, 2011
11:44 am

TE, TE, TE. They need to 15 catches between the 2 of them every game. I would think it should be pretty hard to cover 2 excellent TEs. King looks to be good enough at WR to be another option. If we can’t run the ball better (or at least hang onto it better) it won’t matter. The D should be much improved but it won’t matter if they are exhausted by halftime.

Just one armchair coach’s opinion.

McDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:45 am

our running backs will be fine if they have holes to run through and hold on to the ball

i’m beginning to think that our scheme is needlessly complicated if you can’t just line up and smash the ball down your opponents throat for 3-4 yds a pop

Tgeezy

April 19th, 2011
11:46 am

Murray has yet to beat a good team…..Bobo is still our OC……Richt is stil our HC….King and Ealey are useless thugs…..just follow these guys on twitter….and you iwll see where their priorities lie….it is truly embarrassing…..expect more of what you saw last year…and it kills me to say that….we cant compete with Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, or Florida right now….we need MAJOR changes as quickly as possible!

McDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:46 am

Blake Sailors is a playmaker

Real Dawg Fan

April 19th, 2011
11:47 am

Dawgs97

I agree with some of what you said. RBs still need someone to “step up” to be a true gamechanger, nobody has yet even tho I agree that Malcombe didnt look as bad as Bill says. B Smith however is not a WR but a DB who we use look to use on offense some b/c of his speed.

AltamahaDawg

April 19th, 2011
11:50 am

Well they were out of position in the backfield, and undersized on the line AND exhasted by halftime last season and still only lost by a few points, so that is the good news.

Dawgboy

April 19th, 2011
11:50 am

I am worried about Spurrier.

Real Dawg Fan

April 19th, 2011
11:52 am

Altamaha

Very true, every game we lost last year was only by a few points (except Aub)..we could have beat SC but Ealey fumbled, Colorado King fumbled, FLA we just didnt go to AJ early enough so I blame that one on Murray/Bobo..other than that, wasnt too bad of losses

SSIgator

April 19th, 2011
11:55 am

“Dogs come out of spring drills with areas of concern lingering”

Bill – The areas of concern began in 2008 and are ongoing. 10-3 then 8-5 then 6-7. If I was a UGA fan I would be concerned also.

DawginLex

April 19th, 2011
11:56 am

I’m gonna go ahead and predict that Caleb King is gonna have a big year.

I disagree with you about Malcome Bill. He is going to help.

I’m hoping Ealey sticks around but I’m hearing nothing which probably means he is gone. No one really knows but speculation is he wants a change of scenery.

schmeckdawg

April 19th, 2011
11:56 am

@Dawgs97

I also agree with your assessment of Malcome! For a guy who has never been on the field, I thought he looked damn good; plus, he was playing with a slight groin pull. It wouldn’t shock me to see him be the #1 guy coming out of Fall practice as I have absolutely no confidence in King or Ealey and we can pretty much count on Crowell only playing on running downs as he does not know the blocking schemes and we know how important that is in Richt’s system.

Remember just a few years ago when we were down on florida’s 5 yard line or so and King whiffed a block and got Stafford killed. I don’t thinnk he played another down that year OR if he did play, it was minimal!

Go DAWGS!!!!!!!

DawginLex

April 19th, 2011
11:58 am

If i were a gator, (Thank God I’m not), I’d be concerned about the all you can eat buffet and college program destoyer serving as OC in Gainesville and the fact that you have no QB and your coach has never won a game and your HOF coach is sitting in the studio at Bristol.

schmeckdawg

April 19th, 2011
12:01 pm

@Real Dawg Fan

Don’t forget about Ealey’s fumble on the goal line against mississippi state.

sogadog

April 19th, 2011
12:01 pm

To win the SEC East and SEC championship a team must run the ball and play great defense. I am optimisitic about the defense.

A passing game is fun to watch but the running game is the foundation of championship offenses. I am afraid Bobo’s low speed finesse system is just not working and I wish someone would step in and develop the running game (blocking and running). It seems our O linemen are geared toward pass protection and not knocking defenses off the ball on running plays. Last year our running backs were inconsistent, unfocused, constantly in trouble and constantly fumbling the ball at key moments in the game. We need a new running backs coach who can develop these backs. We have had Richard Samuel five star, Caleb King five star and Waushaun Ealey four star play running back but never develop. I blame that on the coaching staff and I hope the coaching philosophy surrounding the running game improves this year.

SSIgator

April 19th, 2011
12:04 pm

DawginLex -

Good grief son – get some new material. Like some people responded to your posts on Bradley’s site, if all you want to do is talk smack about the Gators at least wait until UGA has something to talk about (and I don’t mean a moral victory like tying UF to force overtime) win something.

schmeckdawg

April 19th, 2011
12:06 pm

@sogadog

I wonder if they have never developed because we have a former wide receiver coaching our RB’s!

Colonel Reb

April 19th, 2011
12:11 pm

I read you had five unforced fumbles in a game where there were no hits on the quarterback.

Not good.

Ron O

April 19th, 2011
12:12 pm

Bill, Bill, Bill sacks in spring game are like a game of horse shoes, if your close you get points. The O line will be fine, the drafting as opposed to having complete teams compete against each other is going to effect the O line more than any other segment. Malcome looke good and will getter than you think. I suspect that Ealey and King will relegated to mop up duty this season

sogadog

April 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

Me too Schmeckdawg, and a running backs coach coaching receivers!

Dawg Gone

April 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

SSIgator how many SEC titles that HC of yours won so far? Spew on reptile spew on…

Judd

April 19th, 2011
12:15 pm

My questions are about QB & rush offense.

On QB:
Murray’s 3rd quarter stats continue to impress, just like last year, but Murray seemed to continue with his 1st quarter troubles. Nice to see Murray maske the 2 point conversion, but would have felt better if Murray had finally led his time to a 4th quarter late game td for the 1st time. Still lots of questions with Murray regarding how poorly he starts & finishes games. Also, hard ot imagine making it into the fall with all 3 QB’s still on the roster. Likely, Mason and/or Lemay will transfer after learning Murray will start, leaving us think at QB again.

Rush offense:
No RB’s seperated, and you’re looking at the 10th worst rushing offense in the SEC last season. Crowell could help, but no one knows. And if Ealey transfers, you really don’t have a proven scorer at RB anymore. Also, if Figgins transfers, you’re thin at fullback.

schmeckdawg

April 19th, 2011
12:15 pm

@sogadog

Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

schmeckdawg

April 19th, 2011
12:19 pm

@Judd

Figgins isn’t going anywhere unless he goes 1-AA. He is a fifth year senior who has already burnt a redshirt year so again, I don’t see him going anywhere. Just MHO!

Judd

April 19th, 2011
12:20 pm

The O-Line just looked terrible Saturday, as usual. Can’t pass protect against sacks, can’t run block. If the O-Line stuggles like it has last 2 seasons, looking at a 5-7 season and everybody will be fired.

Midtown Dawg

April 19th, 2011
12:21 pm

@Dawgs97

I agree about Malcome, I think Bill underrated him to make a point about running backs, but I don’t agree. I feel we have invested a lot in Caleb King and he hasn’t produced. Rather than have him be serviceable, I would rather see Malcome who is at least just as good now, get the carries and use the game experience to develop rapidly given his skills. I for one feel Crowell will be a bust, I have not been impressed with him and he was terrible in the Army game when playing against good talent. If we make Malcome our featured back who gets relieved by whomever is second string, I would be happy.

Judd

April 19th, 2011
12:21 pm

I think Figgins might transfer, Ogletree looks like he’ll start at FB, and Figgins wasn’t thrown to over Spring the way Georgia promised to use him. After getting less than 10 passes over 3 seasons, he’s got to be at a boiling point.

Judd

April 19th, 2011
12:25 pm

Wide receiver is a big problem. Tavarres King is solid, but he’ll get doubled. That leaves Charles, check the stats and you’ll see Bobo refuses to throw to TE’s.

Athens= God's Country

April 19th, 2011
12:28 pm

All I ask is that our D keeps us in the game. I long for the days when we repeatedly had huge 3rd down stops.

Gypsies, Thugs and Thieves

April 19th, 2011
12:30 pm

UGA needs to recruit some corn fed hog mollies. Richt has really never done well is this area since he has been at UGA. In the early days he relied on Donnan recriuts.

Troll Power Ratings

April 19th, 2011
12:30 pm

AltamahaDawg 11:44 am:

Hilarious…and spot on!

Athens= God's Country

April 19th, 2011
12:30 pm

Judd

Which Judd are you, Winona or Ashley?

Your comments about Figgins transferring makes no sense. You lose all credibility after that. Please ignore.

FLA DAWG

April 19th, 2011
12:31 pm

The O Line is a problem for next season?
It’s been a problem for years and Richt is unable to correct it.

Herschel was phenomenal but he’d be the first to admit our O Line in the early 80s was among the best in the country.

What happened to our Big Linemen Recruiting Targets?

I think UF, UT, SC will beat us next season. Garcia will play and end up having the best year of his college career. UF beats us evey year regardless of talent. UT will completely humiliate us with a relatively new coach and player team.

I hope I’m wrong but I’ve been right the last three years. This has gone on so long it’s beyond depressing. I’ll watch the first few games and if I’m right I’ll just check the scores on Sunday after that.

……………….I don’t even want to think about how good Bama and LSU will be…………..I wish them the best. At least they’ll represent the SEC with pride.

frannie mae

April 19th, 2011
12:32 pm

UGA is in BIG BIG trouble.