ATHENS – G-Day, always a rite of spring for Georgia football fans, also will be a celebration of change this time.
Three new coaches.
A new defensive alignment.
A new starting quarterback, even if his identity remains unrevealed.
And no Willie Martinez to kick around.
Georgia’s annual spring intra-squad football game will be played Saturday afternoon in Sanford Stadium, which will be open for business for the first time since the nadir of the 2009 season –- a Nov. 21 game in which the Bulldogs committed four second-half turnovers and lost at home to Kentucky for the first time in 32 years.
The G-Day game, which starts at 2 p.m. and will be televised on CSS, completes Georgia’s spring practice and provides the first open-to-the-public glimpse of the team’s overhaul for 2010:
For Grantham, Lakatos and Belin, G-Day continues their introduction to Georgia football, and vice versa.
“There is so much tradition here,” said Lakatos, who had spent his entire career in the Northeast, the past six seasons at Connecticut. “I’m just trying to learn the traditions so I can fit in.”
While fans won’t get a full picture of the new defense Saturday –- “we don’t want to give away any of our secrets,” defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said — Grantham promises a sampling of what’s to come.
“We’re going to do our core stuff,” he said. “We’ll do some things, but we obviously won’t do everything.”
The defense, he cautioned, is very much a work in progress. “Everything’s new,” he said. “Everybody’s a rookie. Everybody’s a freshman.”
But Richt expects folks will be encouraged by what they see.
“Everything is starting to solidify, I think,” Richt said. “I know we still have a long way to go, but you can just see it little by little. The mistakes that are being made just become less and less. There is less and less space to run the ball and less and less time to throw the ball. I think they’re really progressing well.”
“I don’t even know who’s starting G-Day,” Murray said. “They haven’t told us yet.”
Bobo said he expects to unveil a quarterback depth chart in another week or so, after reviewing video of G-Day and the spring’s 14 other practices.
“I think all three of the QBs have competed well,” Gray said. “And obviously this weekend will be interesting, too, to sort of cap it all off.”
Bobo’s G-Day advice to the quarterbacks: “Let’s go relax and have fun and enjoy the moment of playing quarterback at the University of Georgia. Don’t think, ‘Every throw is going to determine whether I’m starting or not.’ You go out there and have fun and enjoy it.”
G-Day matches the “Red” team, which includes the first-string offense and second-string defense, against the “Black” team, which includes the first-string defense and second-string offense. (And the “Black” team, you should know, actually will be wearing white jerseys.) Dropping no clues about their quarterback preferences, coaches put Murray, Gray and Mettenberger on the “Red” roster and no QB’s on the “Black” roster.
The plan, Richt said, is to rotate the three quarterbacks between the two sides, so that each of them plays with both the first- and second-string offense.
The offense, like the defense, hopes to put on a good show without digging deeply into the playbook.
“I don’t think we’ll show too much out there,” Murray said. Then he recalled that at last year’s G-Day, “we came out with a flea-flicker to start the game off. So I don’t know what crazy tricks Coach Bobo has in mind.”
More G-Day info:
So what are you most interested to see at G-Day?