Spring practice didn’t answer Dogs’ biggest questions

Replacing the likes of Cordy Glenn on the offensive line remains a work in progress for the 2012 Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Replacing the likes of Cordy Glenn on the offensive line remains a work in progress for the 2012 Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

While Bulldogs fans did come out of G-Day reassured that the defensive front will continue to be a major Georgia strength and that prospects are encouraging at running back, backup quarterback and tight end, most of the major questions hanging over Mark Richt’s 2012 team won’t be answered until the fall.

The biggest of those uncertainties remains the rebuilding of the offensive line, because of the impact that has on other aspects of the game: running, passing, quarterback protection. While I was pleasantly surprised with how well the tentative first-team OL held up against one of the best defensive lines in the nation on G-Day, there still was inconsistency and not much depth — the second-team OL looked pretty woeful. Most observers see true freshman John Theus having a real chance to start come September if he lives up to advance billing.

On the other side of the ball, the linebacking corps looked solid and should be able to sustain a possible suspension of Alec Ogletree, but we didn’t really see anything in the spring game to alleviate the worries about how the secondary will handle Missouri with starters possibly suspended, since designated two-way player Malcolm Mitchell wasn’t able to play because of another hamstring problem.

And while speedster Justin Scott-Wesley showed some potential, we’ll still have to wait and see how the receiving corps handles having Mitchell, its biggest playmaker, spending time on defense.

And, of course, one of the biggest problem areas that needs shoring up — special teams — won’t really be addressed fully until August, when the likely new punter and placekicker join the team. While coaches still have to address who’ll be returning punts and kickoffs, the larger issue that must be resolved is coverage, where Georgia stunk last year, ranking 116th nationally in punt coverage and 88th in kickoff coverage, with a tendency to give up big returns at the worst possible times.

Spring work on special teams was mainly concerned with drills designed to see who’ll be populating the coverage teams come fall, Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald. “The goal in the spring for the special teams was to get a lot of guys involved and do a lot of drill work that will help us. First of all, evaluate, ‘Can a guy do what we’re going to ask him to do. Can he get off a block. Can he tackle in space? Can he protect a kick?’ We were just wanting everybody to understand that everybody and anybody could end up on a special team — a starter, a second-teamer, whatever it is.”

Kirk Olivadotti, who oversees the kickoff-coverage unit, indicated that in terms of approach, it won’t be so much wholesale change as tweaking coverage and changing up personnel.

Hopefully, that’ll be enough, but I’m more encouraged by Richt’s contining emphasis this offseason on the need to up the Dogs’ game in special teams play, which hasn’t always been a high priority during his tenure.

“My guess is, we will have more live kicking reps in the fall than we’ve had in a while,” Richt said, though he allowed that “some of that is because we’re going to be breaking in a new punter and a new kicker. They need to be under pressure as much as possible, and it’s hard to create that pressure unless you’re doing some live situations.”

Offensive line. Secondary depth. Special teams. All three could be make-or-break areas for the Dogs this season and the picture unfortunately remains pretty hazy with all of them. Any other lingering concerns you have coming out of spring practice?

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

212 comments Add your comment

Mike Bobo 17 INT

April 20th, 2012
10:33 am

Turn the program over to Todd Grantham, demote CMR to team chaplain and move CMR’s salary to Grantham.

Another Dog

April 20th, 2012
10:44 am

When was the last time the spring game answered any questions? It’s like Bill is a gasbag that doesn’t know anything about spring camp or football in general… Oh wait.

Can’t wait for your next article namedropping one of your dad’s friends who recently passed away in Athens, Bill.

ElvinBishopBand

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

good plan …don’t work on the special teams now for we have the fall to resolve this weakness. The truth is you don’t have enough quality folks that can man the special teams at this time due to roster management failure. Signing friends of good players will get you sooner or later but it’s what the preacher man does best. Please continue your hype for we’re getting close to August and you UGA fans know what that means….Failure to play at the level you talk…..again.

@Mike Bobo 17 INT

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

You sir are an idiot.

Dean Tate

April 20th, 2012
10:49 am

I’m not as concerned about WR. TK’s performance was very encouraging, as were both tight ends, Lynch and Rome. Conley could also have a big year.

jablonski

April 20th, 2012
10:51 am

O Line, O Line, O Line

Newman

April 20th, 2012
10:53 am

Roster management is a HUGE problem.

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:03 am

I’m puzzled at the blanket statement that special teams have not been a priority to Richt, when in fact he uses more scholarships than most in that area, and as a whole has had some of the better special teams in the league throughout his career. Having issues here and there is hardly an indication of a low priority is it? If so, then we can assume it’s not a big priority for a lot of SEC coaches because they have all had issues with various aspect of special team at one time or another.

Dawg Haus

April 20th, 2012
11:06 am

Has anyone heard more on how Missouri’s QB is recovering from shoulder surgery? He missed most of their spring, but is expected to be back in time for the first game of the season. That being said, that’s a pretty tough operation to overcome. Not so sure he’ll be at 100% by Sept. 8, if he plays at all.

Dawgsgone

April 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Transfers, suspensions and dismissal of players always hurts but when young players do not improve over a two or three year period due to continued poor coaching, preparation, conditioning and training, our program will always be thin in most if not all areas. Far too much dependency on young players to come in and “shore up” weaknesses in all phases of the game for the Dawgs to be competitive at the highest levels of the SEC.. I love ‘em as much as anyone but unfortunately those are the facts.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:14 am

Another dog

you classless baboon

bill grew up in Athens and his family knows a ton of people

If you don’t like what he writes, don’t read it and don’t respond to it.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Twill be interesting.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Mike Bobo 17 INT

April 20th, 2012
10:33 am
Turn the program over to Todd Grantham, demote CMR to team chaplain and move CMR’s salary to Grantham.

*****************************************

Another idiotic, childish comment from the interception idiot.

At least you are consistent.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:16 am

Uh, why don’t we have a special teams coach since our special teams stink?

DIT

April 20th, 2012
11:16 am

I’m just asking because right now I am a little stumped. Most of the blog writers keep writing about how good the O-Line was last year and they will be hard to replace.
I just was not impressed at all over the O-Line last year. I thought they got shoved around a good bit.
Someone has to explain to me why our O-Line was so good last year? I’m not saying that the O-Line this year will be world beaters, but my guess that there will be an improvement from last year. Am I off base with that remark?

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:17 am

Will this be the year Aaron Murray beats his first top 20 team?

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:18 am

Our defense gave up 63 points in the Spring game, I am worried.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:21 am

the defense had 2 major issues in 2011:
#1 last in sec in points scored against ranked teams @39 a game
#2 last in sec in red zone td’s given up (gave up 21 td’s in red zone)

G-Day looked as if nothing has changed as defense gave up 63 points, and offense scored 5 td’s in red zone.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:24 am

Any other concern? I thought Murray had another bad Spring. Hopefully, he’ll learn how to throw more td’s than he did in the 3 Spring games (3), and more accurate than he was in the 3 Spring games (50% accurate).

But, Mason & Lemay looked great, just hope Richt doesn’t wait too late to make the change at QB if Aaron continues to struggle in the Fall like he did in the Spring.

Nooga Dawg

April 20th, 2012
11:29 am

Can’t wait for Gurley to join the team. TG is fast and can tackle, use him as a two way player also.

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:30 am

You mean something like lead the conference in throwing TDs?

O CORD!

April 20th, 2012
11:30 am

The biggest question is why do we still have Bobo calling plays? This change should have been made 2-3 years ago. AJ never had more than 9 catches in a game and I believe 9 was in his last or next to last game. Bring in a Friedgen or a Cutcliff and let them have the O. We finally have a D cord no go get a O cord.

davey

April 20th, 2012
11:31 am

Lots of worries. Too many to share.

Destin Dawg

April 20th, 2012
11:32 am

Grantham’s Junk Yard Dawg defense does in deed pressure Richt and Bo Bo to elevate the offense.. to match intensity.. killer attitude.. finish the Drill… remember ??? Go dawgs !!! great season coming up… can’t wait !!

evil empire

April 20th, 2012
11:34 am

please keep murray as your starting qb…he’s blog gold!

altamaha, who is his competition in the throwing td’s contest…no one else in the conference plays catch me-kiss me 1990’s fsu offense, so he’s the tallest midget…

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:34 am

Or perhaps set a school record?

Destin Dawg

April 20th, 2012
11:35 am

open up QB competetion… Murray does not have birthright starting status with his in consistent record for sure !!!!

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:37 am

DIT

I have asked the same thing. Anderson was a 330 LB guy who could not move laterally. Glenn is a big loss but if you remember, he did not start showing progress until late in his sophomore season. Jones can be replaced by andrews eventually.

The problem is they are freshmen. We need them to play NOW. In a perfect world, there would be upperclassmen playing and allowing these guys to learn, get stronger and wait. These guys did not even get to redshirt.

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:37 am

Which conference? The one we play in or the imaginary conference?

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:40 am

was also 7th nationally. Does that count or is that also some bla bla bla reason not to matter?

Sam

April 20th, 2012
11:42 am

Everyone is in love with the backup QB. A person has not played in anything meaningful in a few years. Please, Murray is one of the 2 best QBs in the conference (Tyler Wilson being the other). I seem to recall Murray not being that great in past spring games only to have good performances when it counts. As for not beating a top 20 team yet, football is a team game.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:43 am

DIT,
Lee, Burnette, Gates, Houston and Theus is my guess for the starters with Andrews, Dantzler, Beard being the 2nd group that will play a lot.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:43 am

Does make you wonder if Richt’s stubborn loyalty to Murray will cost him a National Championship this year? Murray has demonstrated a tendency to fold in big games, 2 and 10 lifetime against ranked teams, 0 & 9 against top 20 teams. This will be Richt’s best chance to win a National Championship with this schedule (no Bama, LSU or Ark, 9 starters back on defense).

Or if the lack of depth at d back and o-line will cost him an SEC Championship?

Or if Richt’s subborn loyalty to the passing game will cost him a National Championship?

Can laid back Richt get a sense of urgency that this is his best chance to win a National Championship?

ARdawg

April 20th, 2012
11:44 am

Special teams to most coaches is akin to juggling bowling balls. It can be done but as soon as you look away one has landed on your foot. Special teams while “worked” on will never be top priority in Spring or fall practice. Too many other aspects of the game take precedence. Just the way it is.

Dirty Dawg

April 20th, 2012
11:44 am

Hey ‘another dog’…back the hell off. I too may not agree with Bill’s criticisms of Bobo and/or CMR, but he’s simply reflecting the attitudes expressed by, way too, many of the fans here. But your crack about his posting on, I assume, the passing of Freddie Birchmore is way, way, over the damn line. First of all it’s personal, and second, no true Dog fan doesn’t know the name Birchmore and revere it. So just STHU about this, OK?

Attended spring practice

April 20th, 2012
11:46 am

I asked Coach Richt about Murray and Mason.Richt said there is a clear difference between Aaron and Hutson even though Hutson has made great progress.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:47 am

True, we don’t know if Mason or Lemay will be BETTER, BUT, we do know they can’t be WORSE than Murray’s 0 & 9 record against top 20 teams, so anything would be an improvement, can’t get worse than 0 & 9.

evil empire

April 20th, 2012
11:48 am

who was his competition last year???bama doesn’t have to throw it…jordan jefferson???…garcia????…whoever at auburn, florida, vandy, ole mis/missy st…the kid at arky? bray at ut was hurt alot…guess sombody had to lead the conference in td passes…congrats…

DIT

April 20th, 2012
11:48 am

Thank Lex

I’m glad that I was not the only one that thought so. I like these younger kids coming in. They might not be a large, but they are just as strong and quicker.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:48 am

Amen Dirty Dawg.

Two thumbs up from me

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:50 am

Yeah, there’s a clear difference between Murray and Mason, Mason completed 60% and threw 4 td’s this Spring in 3 games, Murray completed 50%, and threw 2 td’s and 1 interception returned for a td.

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:52 am

evil empire forgets the 2 easy TD’s dropped in the SECCG that would have made the score 21-0 and would have changed the game

I think murray threw those????????????

The reason Murray threw so many TD’s and the same reason he made so many mistakes is because the offense was built around him. Our OL deficiencies provided little running game except against Auburn.

If you can’t see that, I can’t help you

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:52 am

What kind of a damn fool would not be starting his “favorite” QB?

Of all the worn out, lazy, copy cat cliches we have to put up with in here, that one is probably the most stupid.

Desert Fox

April 20th, 2012
11:53 am

Another Dog

April 20th, 2012
10:44 am

That comment was uncalled for. Just plain mean. Smear some more accutane on those pimples sonny.

I said this before and now again, how this years team may perform you just have to look at how they performed last season minus who they lost to graduation, etc. Based on that I think it’ll be a struggle
for the Offense especially running the ball. Murray will be pressured and the results the same as last season w/int’s and fumbles. Whether that will cost games depends on the defense and who they’re playing at the time. Sorry, don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

ARdawg

April 20th, 2012
11:53 am

ADogfan

You are full of kaka. While it would be great if Murray could carry the team with superior talent and performance, it isn’t going to happen. Large in part to the coaching. Murry is a very good QB. This might be his year to be a great one but, it’ll only happen if he’s allowed to

DawginLex

April 20th, 2012
11:53 am

adogfan

Why do you post the same thing every day under a different blog handle?

Are u mad?

AltamahaDawg

April 20th, 2012
11:56 am

And there is a difference between Dawg fans trying to have a discussions and trolls who say stupid things like…..I hope he learns to throw some TDs.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:56 am

Is there some way to use all 3 QB’s in certain situations, playing to their strengths? For example, Lemay has shown over 2 G-Days, he’s clutch at end of games. Murray has the strongest arm for hail mary situations, or 3rd and long. Mason is the most accurate if you needed to go to a short, ball control passing game or Mason has the quickest release if the defenses are sacking Murray too much.

Is there someway to use Crowell, Gurley, Marshall, Malcome and Samuel, playing to their strengths? Malcome for inside 5 yard line. Crowell on own side of field in running situations. Samuel as a passblocker or 3rd and short. Gurley and Crowell and Marshall as speed guys on screen passes or in the slot in spread formations.

ADogFan

April 20th, 2012
11:56 am

Is there some way to use all 3 QB’s in certain situations, playing to their strengths? For example, Lemay has shown over 2 G-Days, he’s clutch at end of games. Murray has the strongest arm for hail mary situations, or 3rd and long. Mason is the most accurate if you needed to go to a short, ball control passing game or Mason has the quickest release if the defenses are sacking Murray too much.

Is there someway to use Crowell, Gurley, Marshall, Malcome and Samuel, playing to their strengths? Malcome for inside 5 yard line. Crowell on own side of field in running situations. Samuel as a passblocker or 3rd and short. Gurley and Crowell and Marshall as speed guys on screen passes or in the slot in spread formations.

sex glasses

April 20th, 2012
11:58 am

safety first!