Athens — One down, 28 practices to go before the Dogs play at Oklahoma State.
It was a long, hot, interesting first day of preseason camp. Among the things I found most interesting:
– In interviews a few hours before the first practice, numerous players passionately expressed their feelings that this team will be sounder fundamentally and more disciplined than last year’s. I know you’ve heard it before during the off-season, but I’ve got to say, it seems clear there is conviction and sincerity behind the words. Geno Atkins, for example, said: “This season we’ve got a focus, because we know the mistakes we made last year were fundamentals, not doing the little things, not being disciplined, not wrapping up. So we are focused on those things this year.” And Rennie Curran said: “Everybody is hungry. Everybody wants to get into practice and show people what we are about. Everybody is ready to go. I know I am. . . . We’re a real focused team right now. We feel like we are on a mission.” The same mindset was evident in players’ reactions to questions about the challenge of replacing all the playmaking firepower lost from last season’s team. Here’s the story I wrote on that topic.
– Some interesting talk, too, about Georgia making it to preseason camp with zero players arrested in the off-season, down from eight last year. “Amen,” Mark Richt said to that. Said Joe Cox: “We knew we didn’t want to come into camp and be embarrassed like we were last year, [when] we had to hear it from everybody how undisciplined we were and how we had a bad group of guys. I mean, these are the same guys. They have grown up.” Richt: “Have we been a more disciplined team from January to August than we were a year ago? To this point, we have. We hope that will translate to being a more disciplined team on the field.” You think there’s a correlation?
– And not to make too much of one day of practice in shorts and helmets, but apparently Orson Charles, the freshman tight end, made quite the first impression. Mike Bobo said Charles wanted to take every rep, “and when the ball was thrown to him he made some catches. He didn’t know everything that was going on, but neither did A.J. Green last year.” Charles is among a number of fascinating freshmen to watch this month on offense in positions of immediate opportunity, along with Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten, Washaun Ealey, Arthur Lynch. . . . Charles, by the way, is wearing No. 7, Matthew Stafford’s old number. And Ealey is wearing No. 24, Knowshon Moreno’s old number.
Practice No. 2 is Wednesday, 3:25 p.m. More then. . . .