Dogs continue spring experiments (UPDATED)

Aside from Kenarious Gates, the offensive line is still a big question mark. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Aside from Kenarious Gates, the offensive line is still a big question mark. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Some of the things you hear out of spring practice are reassuring — the defense is looking sharp, Isaiah Crowell seems more mature.

And then there are the spring experiments, which are more of a mixed bag.

I don’t think there was much doubt going in that Malcolm Mitchell can help the defense at cornerback, and the word this week that Richard Samuel is indeed cross-training at fullback makes sense. It’s a position where Georgia doesn’t have enough depth, while there are more than enough tailbacks.

I’m less sanguine about the fact that Kenarious Gates is the only offensive line player who has stood out to date and coach Will Friend is still shuffling people around, trying to find his best potential starting five.

David Andrews was expected to be first choice at center, but Friend is giving Dallas Lee a try there this week. Watts Dantzler started out as the lead right tackle, but Austin Long is getting a look there as well.

The offensive line was the biggest question mark hanging over the Dogs entering spring practice, and that’s likely to still be the case come August, when highly rated recruit John Theus will start practicing.

It could take until midseason or later for the line to really gel, which is not going to work in the Dogs’ favor.

Talking with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Friend noted, “I know we’ve got 15 spring practices and 29 before the season, but it really leaves you with not as much time as you would like.”

Sounds like a man feeling some pressure.

UPDATE: I’m going to hold off on commenting about the unconfirmed report of impending suspensions of two more members of the defense until we know for sure what’s happening. In the meantime, feel free to comment on the issue, but keep it civil and try not to act like screaming members of a mob with torches and pitchforks. Thanks.

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180 comments Add your comment

Dan in AR

March 28th, 2012
10:49 am

Hiram Dawg

March 28th, 2012
10:54 am

Counting the days til Sept. 1, 2012!!!

Dan in AR

March 28th, 2012
10:54 am

If the line can get set during the spring, then the summer will give them the reps they will need to improve and gel and as a unit. If Theus can break into the group they have with quality play, all the better. I think the schedule will allow them to make the right moves. I just hope they stay healthy!

GUMP_DAWG

March 28th, 2012
10:55 am

HIGH EXPECTATIONS THIS SEASON

Dean Tate

March 28th, 2012
10:56 am

I’m worried about the OL too. The talent is there, the numbers are pretty good, but the experience is almost nonexistent. At least we’ve got a cupcake opener.

Tweedle Dee

March 28th, 2012
11:08 am

arrrgh

March 28th, 2012
11:13 am

Uh oh then how is Bobo going to run the draw and play action on 3rd and long?

Abe Lincoln

March 28th, 2012
11:15 am

Richard Samuel has been jerked around for the 4th time. I hear this is brought up often by opposing schools recruiting in Ga. I thought he looked good in Jacksonville before his injury. We don’t use 2 backs enough to justify moving him. So now we have Crowell,Malcolm,and 2 freshman that really need to be redshirted.

SSIgator

March 28th, 2012
11:22 am

“Dogs continue spring experiments”

This actually has nothing to do with football practice. The headline refers to Richt changing up the Kool-Aid formula. He needs a stronger batch than he has had in the past. But then again, maybe not. Where else except at UGA can a person work under contract for eleven years, beat no teams with winning records (and get blown out at the same time) and get rewarded with a new contract and more money? What a gig. Where do people sign up for that kind of job?

LakeDawg

March 28th, 2012
11:27 am

We all knew the OL would be a work in progress. If Bobo and Richt don’t commit to the run now, they are certifiable. Run blocking is easier to learn than pass blocking and it opens up the pass game, not to mention UGA is loaded with talented backs.

Fridawg

March 28th, 2012
11:36 am

A man under pressure will produce results. Theus, Beard, and possibly Garcia will leave us with plenty of talent. I’m confident the line will be fine come the fall. Could be a special season with a dominant D.

Real Problem

March 28th, 2012
11:38 am

OL might be the worst in the SEC and maybe by far….gosh, I hope I am wrong. DREAM TEAM was missing OL and it is going to show in the fall. This past fall we get ONE highly recruited OL……can anyone see the iceberg? I just do not see the talent….kid from Florida might help, but as a true freshman….I think not:(.

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Frank Lane

March 28th, 2012
11:42 am

Theus will be a force and a started from Day One.

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Columbus Dawg

March 28th, 2012
11:49 am

If I were a Gator I would be worrying about my own problems. 2012 is the year that the series goes back to the Dawgs. You will remember this post along about Halloween after the Dawgs have had their way with your little lizards. Mediocre Muschamp will never get your program back to where you want it. Will be the Ray Goof of Florida football. Jax will be Dawg territory for years to come. Mediocre Muschamp was a joke while at UGA, he was a joke as D coordinator at Auburn. Problem for UF is, who will come in and save the program after Muschamp destroys it? Maybe you gators can hire Charlie Weiss back as head coach! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!

Real Problem

March 28th, 2012
11:50 am

Oh yea, and what if we have injuries to our below average players…guess we can move our run your mouth RB Crowell to OG to block some 320LB nose tackle. Might be just what he needs. Do hope the OL proves me wrong…..as for me… give me the two freshman RB’s we will be better long term.

Dap01

March 28th, 2012
11:59 am

Hey Bobo, a running game is not a draw. There are other ways to run a ball. Please look at game film of Saban and others who have a clue. Also, some offenses have incorporated a new advancement in offense. The new advancement is called a screen pass.

DIT

March 28th, 2012
12:29 pm

Don’t be so sure about UF being down. As much as I hate it, there is a world of talent in Gainesville. I really don’t care what other teams are ding this spring. I’m concerned about our O-Line and special teams. Our pre-season ranking should be no higher than 20th.
Way too much to prove to be ranked any lower. We might and should pull the game out against Mizzou. My fear is that SC will see ALL the opportunities on different defensive schemes that will be successful against our line. If for some reason we can come out of those 2 games with a “W” that will give that line so much confidence that they could gel really well. Confidence builders are huge!

old dog

March 28th, 2012
12:36 pm

No offense to our guys, but we have done a TERRIBLE job at recruiting on the o-line. It is obvious to even the football novice that our o-line will not be a strength. Since this is a necessity to win in the SEC, we will (broken record) win against the bad teams and lose to the good ones. We got smashed at the line by: Bose State, LSU, and Michigan State, especially in the second half. I definitely hope I am proved wrong, but now I just don’t see it. Our backs better be able to manufacture a few yards, and our D better play up to expectations………or our glaring weakness will glare even more!

bill arp

March 28th, 2012
12:47 pm

I don’t think we’ve done a terrible job of recruiting at the OL position, we’ve just had several(5 or 6)key guys move on for whatever reason and it’s starting to show. We’ll be okay. Let’s just hope AM has learned to protect the football.

On another note, I hear Coach Fox is being wooed by K-State(which is were he was originally from). My understanding is he is at the top of their list to take over for Martin. Sorry to bring up basketball on here, just thought that was interesting.

DIT

March 28th, 2012
1:01 pm

Coach Fox leaving would not be a good thing. We were down this year, but I have a lot of confidence in Coach Fox. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

old dog

March 28th, 2012
1:05 pm

Mr. Bill Arp,
With all due respect you just helped me make my point. For that many to leave, the recruiting had to be flawed. One or two, yes sir, but that many shows that some of the issues involved in recruiting (character, work ethic, etc.) may have been overlooked. Other SEC schools have whipped our tails at recruiting o-limemen, and it shows. Recruiting ain’t just gettin’ ‘em here: its keepin’ ‘em here!
Also, hope Fox does not leave. Contrary to what many think, He may be on the right track for us.

UGA Insider

March 28th, 2012
1:10 pm

Friend is looking for the best 5 run blockers. A power run game is being develped as we speak. No more sprint-draw crap. If you cannot power block you are on the bench. Simple as that.

WDE

March 28th, 2012
1:18 pm

@UGA Insider that is exactly what I have been hoping to hear….I would love nothing better than to again beat UT,UA,UF, Bug U and add the gamechickens and beat them all by running the ball down their evil slimy throats……Glory, Glory to Ol Georgia !!

old dog

March 28th, 2012
1:21 pm

@ UGA Insider,
I hope you are right! I really really do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7576DAWG

March 28th, 2012
1:43 pm

Will Friend has only been at Georgia for one year and the 2012 recruit’s are his first true recruiting class . I think he did a good job last year after 2010’s embarrassment. As bad as our linemen were in 2010 there was no way it was going to take less than 2 year and maybe 3 to get them conditioned to play the top teams in the SEC. He deserves a few more years before any conclusion is made. I think we will find out the Will Friend is someone we will want around for a long time.

Mark the bull DAWG

March 28th, 2012
1:48 pm

The o-line Will be the problem for the Dawgs this year…just like last year. And ,well BOBO too!

7576DAWG

March 28th, 2012
1:53 pm

UGA Insider
You can’t have a power run team when two of your Tailbacks are 5′6″ and a third is about 5′9″. Crowell was all we had last year that was a true Tailback. I hope we run them all, Crowell, Marshall and Gurley. Maybe if we have success from the tailback’s , Murray won’t think we need him to run the ball and he can just concentrate on execution .

chazzo

March 28th, 2012
2:03 pm

The key to the 2012 season is what happens between G-Day and the beginning of Fall practice. If they have another summer like last summer, the Dawgs will play in Atlanta. If they have a summer like two and three summers ago, it will be a disappointing season. Anything less than a trip to Atlanta will be disappointing. Of course, loftier goals should be expected.

old dog

March 28th, 2012
2:08 pm

@7576DAWG,
I do hope you are correct. Lately, we tried to play ACC football in the SEC, and came up short. True tailbacks and in-the-trench blocking will be a big help. We got overpowered, so hopefully Friend can remedy a pretty bad situation. It always seems so elementary; the game of football starts with the line.

ugakev

March 28th, 2012
2:15 pm

This actually has nothing to do with football practice. The headline refers to Richt changing up the Kool-Aid formula. He needs a stronger batch than he has had in the past. But then again, maybe not. Where else except at UGA can a person work under contract for eleven years, beat no teams with winning records (and get blown out at the same time) and get rewarded with a new contract and more money? What a gig. Where do people sign up for that kind of job? – Then again where can you find a coach these days who is willing to stay 25 years? Who brings stability to the program. A guy who you never have to worry about getting your program the death penalty or anything close to it. Who can win even with the recent down seasons. Willie Martinez set us back years.The big mistake was not hiring a great defensive coordinator sooner. Georgia will win big again with Richt. If bobo can mustard the tiniest bit of offense I like our chances. Good luck putting 10 points on us this year.

evil empire

March 28th, 2012
2:16 pm

can’t wait until mizzou b-slap’s uga in columbia…that truly will be sweet…the tears will be flowing at the Clarke County College for Girls and Effeminate Boys…

Pago Pago DAWG

March 28th, 2012
2:19 pm

It seems the OL has been a problem for a year or two but nobody on the coachinf knows it…or…..knows how to fix it! Strange…..

Bama=home of the T-bag special

March 28th, 2012
2:23 pm

@evil empire talk talk talk….bring it to Athens and then see if you can talk afterwards …we have the B-slap if you have the time…

evil empire

March 28th, 2012
2:32 pm

not a bama fan…an Lsu fan who b-slapped your dawgs in december…even though CCCGEB did win the first half!!!…and if you show up in atlanta in december, somebody(Lsu, bama, or arky) out of the west will b-slap you losers again…

G-Dawg

March 28th, 2012
2:42 pm

Still believe much of this started with Searles.

@Honest Abe

March 28th, 2012
2:44 pm

Richard Samuel has been jerked around for the 4th time

Really, kinda like we jerked Hines Ward around, huh? Worked out pretty well for Hines though. No, Richard is the type that wants to help the team any way he can, and is smart enought to realize that his willingness to do so, greatly enhances his chances at getting on the field.

I also like that Friend is cross training the OL. It not only allows you to see what combo works the best, but also prepares you for a back-up plan in case of injury.

@Honest Abe

March 28th, 2012
2:45 pm

Here’s some interesting info on Hines Ward at UGA:

As a wide receiver for the University of Georgia Bulldogs (1994–1997), Ward’s 149 career receptions for 1,965 yards placed him second in team history. He also played tailback and totaled 3,870 all-purpose yards, second only to Herschel Walker in Bulldogs history. In 1996, Hines had 52 receptions for 900 yards, and also ran 26 times for 170 yards. In 1997, Hines hauled in 55 passes and scored six TDs, getting All-SEC honors in the process. Ward played some quarterback his sophomore year, and holds Georgia bowl records for pass attempts, pass completions, and passing yards in the 1995 Peach Bowl in which he completed 31 of 59 passes for 413 yards.

When he came out of college it was discovered that Ward was missing an ACL in his left knee, which he lost during a bicycle accident during childhood.[4][5] According to a Yahoo! Sports article, Ward broke his kneecap in the fourth grade and the doctors never accounted for the ligament.[6] He received his bachelor’s degree in consumer economics from UGA.

Bama=home of the T-bag special

March 28th, 2012
2:55 pm

@evil empire best hope its not LSU we made the Hat look like a deer in the headlights the first half and that was UGA without a running game….you know down in the depths of your wretched little soul you were damn lucky to win that game but not whining you held on and came back….however it put your minds in such turmoil that Bama ran rough shod over you in your next game….now that was a shame.I still think you guys were jobbed on that having to play Bama again deal.

G-Dawg

March 28th, 2012
3:06 pm

The Nation was “Jobbed” on the whole replay game!!!

Bama=home of the T-bag special

March 28th, 2012
3:11 pm

@G-Dawg that Sir is a fact.

evil empire

March 28th, 2012
3:18 pm

we all agree on that…thank god j jefferson and lee are gone…zach mett may be the answer…

Dawg Whisperer

March 28th, 2012
3:18 pm

SSI… you already know the answer why. Coach Richt is da preacher man and all things work together for good for those who love God. Read your Bible (if you have one… it is worth the investment) and you will be able to understand so much more. Really.

roughrider

March 28th, 2012
3:23 pm

For those who taped the bowl game against Michign State, go back and watch Michigan State defense stuff 20 running plays in our backfield. Our O line could not stop MSU’s D line.Since we did a lousy job recruiting O linemen this year, we will have the same problem next season.

icedawg

March 28th, 2012
3:27 pm

The OL has been a problem for several years, especially in run blocking. Hence the running part of the game has suffered. Poor running backs have been dead meat. I have been surprised that we’ve been able to recruit any running backs the last couple of years. I hope for their sake that this OL can run block.

7576DAWG

March 28th, 2012
3:46 pm

Truthfully , I have to give some credit to Miles and Saban . When nobody was looking they set the bar one notch higher when you didn’t think it could go any higher and everybody else is trying to catch up , including the rest of the SEC. Georgia is definitely going in the right direction now.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

March 28th, 2012
3:58 pm

Will Friend will take the 6 best guys and train them at all positions and if that is all the talent he trust then hope for injury luck. Saban did the same process in 2008 due to weak talent on the OL. Don’t confuse depth with just numbers for you will not have 9 very good offensive lineman in todays game.

@Columbus….hard to believe a UGA fan would be trash talking The Gators with your record of success then again go ahead it only shows what a complete fool your are. Really , anybody from Columbus trashing anybody is pure humor.

Oh Oh

March 28th, 2012
4:00 pm

Does Crowell still have those nasty, nappy dreads??????

?

March 28th, 2012
4:07 pm