Most of the coverage of Mark Richt’s appearance at SEC Media Days predictably focused on Georgia’s disciplinary problems and possible suspensions, even though the coach and the players he brought with him didn’t really have much new to say on that front.
Much more interesting to me were the comments from the press conference and Richt’s chat with UGA beat writers that give some indication of what we’re likely to see on the field this fall.
On the subject of projected two-way star Malcolm Mitchell, for instance, Richt indicated that early in the season, when heat and humidity are major factors, Mitchell is likely to play mostly as a defensive back.
“Early in the year you’ll see a whole lot more of Malcolm on defense percentage-wise,” Richt said. “As the season rolls along, you’ll see … closer to 50/50 offense and defense. I also think early in the year he’ll be able to play only so many plays because of the heat. But as the weather cools, if 60 is the amount of plays he can play effectively early in the year, maybe he can go to 80 or 90,” taking him into Champ Bailey territory.
Of course, the coach is well aware that opponents will be reading his quotes, too. So while we might not see Mitchell starting on offense against Missouri, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him suddenly inserted out of the blue for a long ball from Aaron Murray or the end-around.
Then there’s the backfield, where the loss of Isaiah Crowell means “it is wide open” for the remaining players, Richt said. He did indicate that Ken Malcome will at least start preseason camp atop the depth chart and that veteran Richard Samuel probably will be playing mostly tailback.
“It certainly will change Richard Samuel’s role, I would think,” Richt said. “He was transitioning to at least the hybrid tailback/fullback for us, but I don’t think he’ll be getting an awful lot of time at fullback now.”
But he also indicated that freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley will certainly get playing time, too. Probably more and more as the season progresses. I don’t believe anyone’s thinking redshirt for even one of them any more, if they ever were.
I also liked that both Gurley and fullback Quayvon Hicks were singled out by players as having been extremely impressive in summer workouts. Everyone seems very high on Hicks, which may be one reason Richt figures there’s not going to be a need for Samuel at fullback. That’s likely to be a position that should get stronger as the season progresses, which will be a big help for Mike Bobo.
Lastly, there’s the question of how Georgia will deal with being the division favorite as the media’s pick to win the SEC East. I liked the mind-set indicated by Tavarres King. “Expectations are expectations,” the senior receiver said. “I’m just worried about outcomes.”
Frankly, I wish the Media Days discussion had centered more on football and less on drug policies and players no longer in Athens, but I’m not surprised it worked out that way.
But at least we can keep the focus where it should be here in the Blawg.
So how are you feeling about the Dawgs being picked by the media to take the SEC East? Do you think these off-field distractions could be a factor early in the season? Got something else you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to email@example.com.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg