Cleaning out the notebook to start the week:
Justin Anderson is playing defense this month for the first time since his junior year of high school. But if Georgia’s season had opened last week, the 6-5, 330-pounder would have been a starter on the defensive line at the nose position.
He’s taking nothing for granted, noting that two weeks of practice remain before the first game and “anything can happen.”
But Anderson admits he’s farther along -– closer to a starting spot -– than he expected to be three weeks into preseason practice.
“To be honest, I didn’t” expect to be working with the No. 1 unit so soon, he said. “No, I didn’t. But hey, I’m just trying to get better.
“Coming on defense, I was kind of nervous at first. I knew I was physically going to do well. But in the past on the offensive line, I’ve had trouble with playbooks. So that was probably my biggest –- I wouldn’t say fright, but I was kind of skeptical about it. But I’ve picked up on it pretty good.
“Playing nose tackle,” he noted, “you just have to learn the base package.”
Anderson, a junior, likes the position. “Taking on those double teams every now and then, that’s probably the biggest challenge of it,” he said.
If Anderson starts at nose, DeAngelo Tyson shifts to an end.
Here’s Mark Richt’s latest update on the recovery of offensive guard Cordy Glenn, sidelined the past couple of weeks with mononucleosis:
“We think Cordy will practice the week of the [first] game, if not sooner. In the beginning of the mono issue, the most important or most crucial part of it is the spleen can get enlarged, and that’s dangerous if you get hit with your spleen in that state. And once the spleen reduces the swelling, you’re still kind of fatigued, you’re still kind of tired. The spleen aspect of it, we feel real good about [now]. But he’s still got to get his strength back. . . . We’re trying to condition him now indoors, and when he handles that well enough, we’ll go outdoors and little by little we’ll phase him in.”
Glenn is one of two starters on the offensive line -– the most experienced facet of the team –- to miss much much of preseason practice. Center Ben Jones missed all of last week after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 15 to clean up cartilage. Jones is expected to return to practice the week of the opening game. Also, a third offensive-line starter, right tackle Josh Davis, missed a couple of days with a minor ankle injury.
“You’d love to have them working together all this time, partially because you want the line to get used to each other but [also] for the offense in general to gain the confidence you need as a unit,” Richt said. “If your offensive line is run-blocking [and] pass-blocking, things are going to go well for you in practice, and as that happens, that gives everybody on the the entire offensive unit, including that young quarterback, confidence.
“I think there will be a little bit more of a mystery going into Game 1 as to how we’re really going to perform [offensively], whereas if [the starting offensive linemen] were practicing every one of those 29 opportunities, everybody would have a better sense of what’s going to happen.”
Hope you read Steve Hummer’s excellent piece on Aaron Murray (and family) in Sunday’s AJC.
Chatting after practice Friday, Murray noted an advantage Georgia’s offense should be able to exploit in the red zone: three tall receivers in 6-4 A.J. Green, 6-5 Kris Durham and 6-5 Marlon Brown.
“We have three big, big targets,” Murray said. “Pretty much get to the line of scrimmage and whoever’s got the shortest cornerback, we’re going to pick on him for that play.
“All three of them definitely are going to be huge weapons in the red zone, where all you got to do is throw it in the back of the end zone and just let them jump up for it. It’s either going to be a catch or it’s going to be knocked down. The chances of it getting picked are going to be pretty bad unless I make just a horrible throw. If I just throw it high enough where they can out-jump someone, it’s a great shot for us.”
And please check out our bulked-up UGA page, ajc.com/uga, for more coverage of the Bulldogs.