It’s only spring practice, I know, but there’s so much going on in Georgia’s football camp that we can’t really fit all the information into our daily football reports, such as the one I wrote Friday. So depending on what you guys think (hint: give me some feedback), I’m going to use the UGA blog as a sort of supplementary space for all things football while we follow spring ball. I’m also going to try to provide daily practice updates when possible.
Friday was somewhat of a rarity in that Georgia coach Mark Richt opened the entire practice to the media. AJC photographer Brant Sanderlin has a nice photo gallery up from the proceedings. Now I didn’t sit out there and watch every minute. But I made sure to watch all of the best part, which is always the 11-on-11 toward the end of practice.
INTENSE DAY: Again, it’s only spring practice, but it didn’t seem like the Bulldogs realized it. They really got after it Friday, especially during the makeshift scrimmage. The defense was especially fired up and that had a lot to do with senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens. Even though he’s still out with a knee injury, he was on the sideline with the other defensive reserves jumping up and down and getting them to yell and chant every time the quarterbacks — especially freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger — got under center.
“That’s what he can do, and even when he’s not playing,” Richt said. “That’s his personality. He likes to get things riled up.”
TEMPERS FLARE: Of course, as is common in such competitive practices, tempers flared. At one point flanker A.J. Green and defensive end Justin Houston locked up at the end of a play. Neither would turn loose and that created a giant scrum on the sidelines between offensive and defensive players. Green’s helmet eventually flew off before the melee was finally broken up. Later in the practice defensive end Kiante Tripp and Ben Jones got into it. In each case the incidents ended with the players patting each other on the back.
The coaches didn’t mind the occasional dust-up. “The competition right now is between the offense and the defense,” Richt said. “I really like the way it’s heating up right now. I think that’s what we need.”
It will likely get more intense Saturday, the first day in full pads. “Tension is already building,” Richt said, grinning. “It’s going to be hot.”
DEFENSE WINS, OFFENSE HANGS: The defense dominated the scrimmage, with safety Bryan Evans and cornerback Prince Miller snagging interceptions and linebacker Rennie Curran returning a fumble for a touchdown. But the offense had it’s moments, too.
Wide recievers Vernon Spellman and Tavarres King hauled in long TD passes, both from Mettenberger (I think). And redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas had a long TD run against the No. 1 defense that featured four or five sharp cut backs. That kid’s going to be exciting to watch.
RECRUITING TALK: CMR answered a couple of questions about recruiting Friday. He was asked if he was concerned about players holding out past signing day — like Bryce Brown and Orson Charles — becoming a growing trend. “I’d rather it not go past,” Richt said. “I’d rather a guy commit in the summer, cancel all his other visits and signing day is boring.” For the record, Richt prefers an early signing period.
On that note, Richt was asked if he was concerned that Georgia has no commitments at this point. The Dogs had about five this time last year. Texas reportedly already has 20. “I’m not concerned one way or another. I just hope in the end we get who we need. We want to be real meticulous about who we offer.”
Georgia will likely come away with at least one or two after Junior Day on Saturday.
FUNNY MOMENT: The funniest moment of the day came when the back of Coach Richt’s chair broke right in the middle of him answering a question during the post-practice interviews. He managed to catch his balance without falling backward onto the floor. “A lesser athlete would have been down,” Richt deadpanned. “A lighter athlete might not have had that happen.”
IN OTHER NEWS:
The second-largest, regular-season crowd in Georgia baseball history watched the No. 4 Diamond Dogs defeat No. 25 Mississippi State 5-3 Friday night. They meet again Saturday and Sunday in Athens. . . .
Andy Landers’ 11th-seeded Lady Bulldogs take on No. 6 seed Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon at Gwinnett Arena. . . .
And the top-ranked and undefeated Gym Dogs begin defense of their SEC title in Nashville today. They’ll start on the beam.