The top five story lines of Georgia’s spring practice (and please add your own)

So did yesterday’s weather get you in the mood for some spring football or what?

And here we are, on the eve of the first day of spring practice at Georgia.

Practice opens Thursday afternoon, with the first session being squeezed in just before UGA’s spring break. The second practice won’t come until March 16. Spring drills end April 10 with the G-Day intra-squad game.

Here are what I expect to be the top five storylines of the Bulldogs’ spring practice (and please add your own below):

1. The quarterback derby. (Duh.)

Georgia has no quarterback in the program who has ever started a college game, making for what offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo calls a “wide open” competition among redshirt freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger and junior Logan Gray. It’s going to be fun to watch how this unfolds.

“The main goal for those guys is to give them equal reps with the No. 1 unit and for each guy to go out there and try to improve every day,” Bobo said. “The big thing for them is to worry about improving themselves, not worry about where they are on the depth chart.”

The rest of us can worry about that.  (And here’s a separate story previewing the QB competition.)

2. Installing the new defense.

After two years of consternation in Bulldog Nation about the defense’s play, the spring brings a fresh start. Three of the four defensive coaches are new, including coordinator Todd Grantham, who is installing a 3-4 alignment in place of the former 4-3.  The change means many players will be learning new roles and new positions.

“I’m excited to get spring practice started, looking forward to getting on the grass and coaching these guys up and seeing what they can do with some pads on,” Grantham said. “I’m looking forward to . . . letting them fly around a little bit.”

3. Remaking the secondary.

While not directly affected by the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4, the secondary is starting anew, too. There’s a new defensive backs coach, Scott Lakatos, who players say brings a new approach. Even the footwork is different, they say. Three of last season’s four starters are gone, all except cornerback Brandon Boykin.

“In the secondary, it’s going to be a little different philosophy,”  head coach Mark Richt said.  “The boundary corners in our old scheme were counted on to do a lot of run support. I don’t know if we’ll be doing quite as much of that. So that might change who plays to the boundary, who plays to the field. . . .  We’re just going to be mixing and matching with these guys a little bit just to see who can do what.”

4. Respecting the football.

Of all the things that went wrong last season, the turnovers were the most recurring and most insurmountable. Georgia committed 28 turnovers -– 17 interceptions thrown and 11 fumbles lost -– and only 12 of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams committed more. Ball security will be an urgent priority on the practice field.

“Anytime you struggle as a football team and lose five games — which is not acceptable, we know it’s not acceptable –- you’re going to soul-search for what we can do better,” Bobo said. “The first thing we can do better is block better, take care of the ball better and not turn it over.”

5. Spotting fall’s stars in the springtime.

As with baseball spring training, part of the fun of spring football is identifying  future stars. (Or, as Bill King’s Junkyard Blawg puts it, breakout Dawgs.)   Spring can mislead, of course, but it also can portend larger roles and greater successes for certain players.

Here are a few emerging players I’ll be watching in that context. Cornelius Washington at outside linebacker. Rantavious Wooten at wide receiver. Branden Smith at cornerback. Orson Charles at tight end.  DeAngelo Tyson at the nose. Maybe Richard Samuel at linebacker, depending on the speed of his learning curve. And, of course, the quarterbacks.

OK, your turn.  Please add or amend a storyline.

And please follow me on Twitter for updates throughout spring practice.

255 comments Add your comment

DROCK

March 3rd, 2010
12:53 am

hairydogs

March 3rd, 2010
12:54 am

hairydogs

March 3rd, 2010
12:56 am

awww man, you win this time drock…anyways im also excited to see how the offensive line plays out. The depth there is awesome. In addition, i want to see who ends up playing nose tackle. Is it gonna be tyson all of the time, or will geathers get in there, or will thornton get some time?

Dawghi

March 3rd, 2010
1:06 am

Dawghi

March 3rd, 2010
1:07 am

Logan Gray is terrible, start Murry or Zach. If Gray starts I am going to be extremely pissed he is freaking terrible. No Talent Ass Clown.

Newnan-Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
2:06 am

Good post Dawghi! How are you going to feel if Logan comes out and proves he is the best of the three? None of them have been given an adequate chance in the past. Before we start throwing out names lets give them all a chance to prove what they can do. I don’t know who the QB will be this fall but I can tell you that whoever it is will have to prove himself this spring. I feel that CMR is a better judge of QB talent than you are. Lets try to keep it positive and see what happens!

Top Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
2:17 am

Word Newnan-Dawg! (That means I concur)

Bobo, Bobo, a pirates life for me

March 3rd, 2010
2:17 am

I want to see Marlon Brown step it up Big time this year….He and AJ could ANNIHILATE Defenses!

WarTown Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
2:24 am

Remedying the penalty problem should be a focus. Too many big plays negated by penalties the past two years. I’m really looking forward to watching the QB battle throughout the spring. Also. Orson Charles as a breakout player? Wasn’t he a freshman All-American last season? Sounds like he’s already broken out to me.

amedawg

March 3rd, 2010
2:36 am

Enter your comments here

amedawg

March 3rd, 2010
2:42 am

1. the entire secondary(now that a few underachievers are gone). i think they will be way better now that they have competent coaching back there. 2.marlon brown. A big receiver who if he’s learned the playbook and dedicated himself to stay focused on the task at hand, we will be lethal @ wide-out this fall.

MauiDawg

March 3rd, 2010
3:03 am

Tim, here’s a spring cleaning thought for AJC editors. They canned Terrence Moore last year which was refreshing….Now how bout making the AJC-UGA sports page something more than glass half full type reporting?

I sure as hell would visit ajc more often if they didn’t focus so much on inflamming UGA fans just to get people clicking. There is such a thing as positive or negative “objective” reporting. They should hire David Hale from Bulldogs Blog. He’s been the best source, hands down for UGA reporting.

Whopper Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
3:07 am

Goodbye 1/4 Willie. It has been a long time since I was so glad to see a coach go. Marion Campbell and Mora JR spring to mind. Looking forward to the new D.

76-Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
5:37 am

I would like to see CMR have more input on the offensive play calling. The bulldog nation was right about the defense, unfortunately it took CMR 2 to 3 extra years to realize it. Now don’t get me wrong, I think CMR is a great coach and I hope he stay’s until he retires but if the play calling doesn’t improve Bobo should go. One thing that I will be watching for is the offense to disguise the screen play a lot better than last year. If anyone is keeping a record I bet that 80% of the time there was a turnover, no yardage gain or a loss . Everybody in the stadium knew when Bobo called for a screen.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
5:53 am

Check out my abs. Go Dawgs!!!

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
6:03 am

1. Diving with Richt.
2. Horseback riding with Richt.
3. Bowling with Richt.
4. Endzone dancing with Richt.
5. Getting bailed out of Clarke county jail with Richt.

Sums up uga football pretty accurately if you ask me.

Munson Bisher

March 3rd, 2010
6:05 am

Spring Headline:

Georgia Tech lies, steals, cheats, and loses!

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:12 am

6. Beating Auburn…AGAIN!

Seriously, check out my abs.

Lane Kiffin's Former Neighbor

March 3rd, 2010
6:20 am

Will someone remind me why Samuel played RB last year. I thought he was a LB in high school.

BTW, I never got the chance to return Lane’s lawnmower that I borrowed. I guess he won’t miss it.

87dawg

March 3rd, 2010
6:25 am

I get lost when I read folks trashing someone like Logan Grey. What is that based on? Seriously, just last season he was the one everyone wanted in. During Stafford’s laast year folks were talking about how great he was going to be. He was one of the best HS QBs in the country. Now all of a sudden he is a “No Talent Ass Clown”?

When did he lose his talent and on what is that judgment based? Heck, I know what I saw was a kid, a quarterback, mind you, that wanted to play so badly that he volunteered to be a punt returner. Have any of you returned a punt in your life? I have and it ain’t fun. You stand there with no knowledge of what is going on around you with one goal….catch the ball then get ready for some idiot to take your head off.

Being the “team man” and staying at a school because you love them is one thing but shouldn’t earn you starting time. Tenure should not win a job. Being fearless and doing whatever you need to do to help the team…that is a kid I want playing. Throw in being one of the best in the country at your postion, which he was the last time he was a starter, that’s who I want directing my team. If you base your opinions on the fact that anytime Grey went in at QB during the season we ran some stupid fake, draw or other run that everyone in the stadium knew was coming, well, then you’re an idiot. Who didn’t sit in the stands or watch at home and KNOW that was what was coming? You don’t think the defensive coordinators did?

If Grey wins the job I hope it’s because he’s the best but I also hope the coaches actually get the best, and not because they owe it to someone.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:28 am

7. Richt refuses to buy a cheezy white limo for recruiting.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:32 am

I think Dawghi was projecting his self-image when he wrote “no talent ass clown.”

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
6:34 am

Don’t get mad Rico, the real team from alabama is gonna raid this state in talent. Ugag is on it’s downslide now. It will be fun to watch.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:40 am

With abs like these, why would I be angry? They will come into Alabama and steal everyone’s girlfriends.

While UGA beats Auburn…AGAIN!!!

SickandTired

March 3rd, 2010
6:41 am

The biggest question and headline should be “Can Mark Richt find the practice field?” It should be this because he can’t seem to find any real football players in the state of Georgia. Kinda like not being able hit the ocean while standing on the beach with a baseball. Come on Coach I know you spend a lot of time brushing those porcelin caps but you need to get out more in the state. Heck you might even run into Nick Saban and he could teach you a little football in the process. It would be a win, win.
Georgia: The Wisconsin of the SEC
Georgia deserves better.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:42 am

P.S. It will be fun to watch!!!

Big L

March 3rd, 2010
6:43 am

War eagle. U can talk crap when u break the streak. Til then STFU. How can u boast against a team u have’nt beat in four years?

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
6:49 am

Big L, it’s all about where we are headed and where you are headed. We will own the west soon and you guys are falling so fast in the east I’m scared 4th is the best you will do for awhile. WDE

ATL Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
6:51 am

My son said that AUB came recruiting at his high school and their fancy white limo broke down and the coaches had to take a crappy station wagon cab back to the airport.

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
6:57 am

Must have been in Athens then, the only place that has crappy station wagons for coaches is Athens.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
6:58 am

Even my abs know this:

1. White limos are cheesy.
2. The REAL university in ALA is Spring Hill College.
3. Women don’t dig it when guys use the term “big cat style.”
4. This paper doesn’t waste it’s time with an article on AUB football.

OrlG8r

March 3rd, 2010
7:00 am

#1 question going in…..
How long does it take for the Dawgs to shoot to the top of the polls ???? We know they’re going to win another national championship, again, cause they’re just that good….but what week in the season do they make it to #1?

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:01 am

Spring Hill college, probably on your schedule. Got to get those easy games doggies so you can get some w’s.

Big L

March 3rd, 2010
7:04 am

Ysah, yeah , yeah. I hear u talkin. I don’t see Allbarn Doin. People who talk about how they are gonna whip somebody are always the ones who don’t swing. Richt owns state of Alabama. Winning record against BOTH teams. Our bad season has 8 wins. How many did ya’ll winn in Toobervilles last year. Jealousy is an ugly color, mi amigo.

ATL Dawg

March 3rd, 2010
7:04 am

It was in Cobb Co. ATL is an abbreviation for Atlanta, not Athens. The station wagon was a cab…you know, like a taxi cab. It’s pretty clearly stated in my comment. Don’t they teach you to read over there?

Louie Jr.

March 3rd, 2010
7:05 am

Waiting for Louie’s public bathroom’s graffiti of wisdom. What did you read on the bathroom stall door this time Louie?

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:05 am

No kidding, rocket up thepolls dawgs.

GoDOGS1

March 3rd, 2010
7:08 am

WAR EAGLE….big cat style- You are a non event. AU doesn’t even register on the radar, nor will they as long as Saban and Miles are in the West. Go home little boy.

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:08 am

Where is over there? I live in Cobb County also, so I was taught to read in Georgia. I just decided on a superior education and to go to a school where they play football, never considered athens.

Big L

March 3rd, 2010
7:10 am

Trust me, Athens never considered you.

Rico Suave

March 3rd, 2010
7:11 am

Here’s an “easy game” my abs like to play:

They go to Auburn and steal everyone’s girlfriends!

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:14 am

Nice return Big L, you have your “son” write it for you?

archangeladidas

March 3rd, 2010
7:16 am

Coming up with more patheic excuses as to why they lost to UF again. GO GATORS! 17 out of 20!

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:16 am

GoDogs1, you need to worry about the new Dooley in the league, afterall his dad is an Auburn man.

Atticus

March 3rd, 2010
7:25 am

I would add putting the pressure on Bobo. I want to see what he does with ten starters returing. He HAS to get better, both with the design, with the intensity and with the pla calling. If it takes the defense a while to cacth on the offense with all that talent has to pick up the slack.

Rico Suave....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:27 am

If I’m riding in a white stretch Hummer to score babes in ALA, am I technically doing it “big cat style”?

(We should really be getting back to UGA football…)

Rico Suave....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:40 am

Back to UGA football…

You know what’s getting to be an easy win on our schedule? Auburn.

And I don’t think it matters who starts at QB!

WonderDawg

March 3rd, 2010
7:46 am

6. Kickoff coverage.
7. Finding a pass rusher.

Tom

March 3rd, 2010
7:49 am

Storyline…..Logan Gray SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He should not be playing QB or football for that matter. He’s the equivalent of a kicker in my book.

30-24 NERDS

WAR EAGLE....big cat style

March 3rd, 2010
7:53 am

Back to Ugag football…………………………..hmmmmm……………………….hmmmmm……………………………………………………………hmmm………………………..crickets chirping…………………………….yawn………………………………..more crickets…………………………………………………..hit the snooze button.