Athens — As we’ve done the past two Mondays, let’s rewind another week of preseason practice. Here are 10 things worth noticing and noting from Week 3 of the Bulldogs’ preseason:
1. So there’s finally an official leader in the tailback derby, Mark Richt declaring Friday night that Richard Samuel is now “a solid No. 1.”
2. Pretty good endorsement of Samuel by linebacker Rennie Curran, too: “I remember tackling him one time, and I got a headache. . . . He’s definitely the type of back that we need in terms of running that ball in the SEC and playing that hard-nosed football.”
3. Even if Samuel is -– and remains –- No. 1, there still can be prominent roles in the tailback equation for 5-foot-7 Carlton Thomas and, once healthy, former Gwinnett County prep star Caleb King. No one tailback is going to replace all of Knowshon Moreno’s 2008 production: the 1,400 rushing yards (on 250 carries) and the 392 receiving yards (on 33 catches). As Joe Cox reminded reporters Saturday, Thomas and King can make plays and catch balls and will be needed. (Here’s Ken Sugiura’s item on Cox’s comments.)
4. Richt’s post-practice mood varied during the week. On Tuesday: “As a team, we didn’t practice hard enough, weren’t disciplined enough [and] just didn’t have the day we need to [have] to get where we want to go.” On Friday: “Coaches are coaching their tails off, and the guys are responding. I had a really good feeling after today.”
5. So the consensus of the preseason polls is that Georgia ranks ahead of Georgia Tech –- but behind season-opening opponent Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are tied (with Penn State) for No. 9 in the AP poll, which was released Saturday, making them Georgia’s first top-10 opening opponent since . . . 1968, when the Dogs started the season with a 17-17 tie against No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville. (Georgia went on to win the SEC championship that season, by the way.)
6. It’s starting to look as if most of the UGA players with hamstring injuries are getting close to 100 percent: Safety Reshad Jones expects to fully participate in practice today, as do tight end Aron White and possibly linebacker Darius Dewberry. Safety Bryan Evans might be just a few days away. It’s not as clear when King or linebacker Akeem Dent will be back, although possibly sometime this week.
7. Bulldog Nation was in full fret mode for a couple of hours Wednesday night when word got out of a practice-field injury to starting center Ben Jones. Turned out to be a sprained left ankle, and by Friday night Richt was reassuring all that Jones would play in the Sept. 5 opener: “I’d be shocked if he’s not ready for that game. You know, when [the injury occurred], it looked a little more severe than it ended up being, thankfully. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him work [this] week, really.”
8. Yes, the football coaches, like other UGA employees, will be furloughed without pay for six days this school year. But no, the coaches, unlike most UGA employees, won’t have to take two of their furlough days on Oct. 30 (the day before the Florida game) or Nov. 25 (three days before the Georgia Tech game).
9. Richt on furloughs: “If the university needs to do it, then we need to cooperate.” And Richt on how difficult it would be to get his coaches to take a day off during the season: “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a day off in the middle of the season. So I doubt that we’ll just be able to stay home and relax. I don’t think that’ll happen.”
10. Georgia started to turn the practice-field focus to the Oklahoma State gameplan, spending 20 minutes Friday with its scout team emulating the Cowboys. That continues this week.