Just finished up interviews with Georgia players to wrap up today’s “Media Day” session at UGA. Media met with head coach Mark Richt for about a half-hour before that.
Time is limited before the Bulldogs take the field for their first practice of preseason camp, so I’m going to just run out some of what I deem “highlights” or most pertinent news to come out of the sessions. I have not had time yet to transcribe the audio of the interviews so some of the quotes may not be exact.
For what it’s worth, here are the players that were made available to us: DB Brandon Boykin, TE Orson Charles, DB Sanders Commings, DE Abry Jones, WR Tavarres King, OT Cordy Glenn, C Ben Jones, QB Aaron Murray and DE DeAngelo Tyson.
OK, let’s get to it. . . .
*** Richt confirmed to the AJC that offensive lineman Austin Long will be out for the first part of camp with an illness. However, he held out hope that it might not be for as long as originally reported.
“What [director of sports medicine] Ron [Courson] is wanting us to call it now is a ‘mono-like’ illness,” Richt said. “We’re not entirely sure that’s what it is.”
Richt said Long will be monitored day-to-day with the hope he’ll be able to join practice in time to prepare for the season opener.
*** Richt addressed the disciplinary situation with senior wide receiver Israel Troupe. Well, kind of, anyway. For now, he said it’s “being handled internally” but he was not prepared to say whether or not Troupe might be suspended for the first game or miss any playing time as a result. “We’re going to do what we feel is most appropriate.”
Troupe, who will graduate on Saturday, was cited for urinating in public and then missed his court date this week. He’s expected to be part of the Bulldogs’ six-man rotation at wide receiver.
*** Richt on the eligibility issues surrounding linebacker Jarvis Jones: “The only thing I know is we have submitted whatever we found to the SEC office.”
*** Richt on Georgia being ranked No. 22 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday. He had not heard the results.
“It’s nice to be mentioned,” he said. “It’s more important where you are at the end, no doubt about it. We’ll see what the media thinks. But that’s a good sign.”
*** Richt on the extreme heat they’ll face with 4:30 practices the next two days: “I’m thankful we have real grass to practice on this year. We’re adding an extra break or two. We’ll get them in the shade for five minutes or so and let them hydrate. We’ll have morning practices the starting Saturday and through next week because of the heat and the rain and weather cycles. Once school begins (Aug. 15), we’ll be outdoors the last two weeks.”
*** Depth problems? What depth problems? Richt shared anecdotes about how supposed depth problems often lead to the discoveries of great players. He talked about how injury issues at safety forced them to move a guy named Thomas Davis from linebacker. He said David Pollack was recruited as a fullback but they moved him to defensive tackle as a freshman because of depth problems. The next year, they moved him out to defensive end because of issues at the position.
*** UGA is still waiting to hear from the NCAA Eligibility Center on freshman linebacker signee Kent Turene of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.
*** On the “Dream Team” recruits: “All I’m asking them to do is to learn what to do and put themselves in position to compete.”
*** Sanders Commings on whether he considers himself a cornerback or a safety: “I’m a defensive back. I honestly don’t know which one I’m going to play. Coach Lakatos told me I’d be cross-training.”
*** Senior CB Brandon Boykin on the freshmen defensive backs:
“I think they all have the potential. It’s tough to say not putting in plays and not being out there with pads on, but if they continue to progress like they did this summer I honestly believe they could all contribute.
“We did a ton of teaching with those guys. We did pass skel three times a week and we would meet beforehand for an hour and a half to discuss their coverage responsibilities and things like that. They did a good job on all that. There’s a lot of responsibility on us as players to make sure they’re learning because the coaches can be around.
“I would say Chris Sanders and Damian Swann both did a good job in the summer guarding receivers and learning the plays. Corey Moore as well. He did a good job at safety, but there’s a lot more to that position than just covering.”
*** LB Christian Robinson on practicing in the heat: “The staff we have here, if you have a problem they know who you are. If you have a problem they’re not going to try to push you. . . . The coaches push us but they know when you’re having some issues physcially he’s going to tell Ron Courson and get him out there so we can get him back. They’re not going to take any chances.
“If you need to come out, do it, because we’d rather have somebody in there that’s able to go full speed and think real fast. We’d rather have somebody fresh in there than somebody who’s tired and doesn’t really feel ike they can play at best of their ability.
“My freshman year I had some heat issues. I had to go off to the side and take one knee. I was worn out to the point I was dazed and confused. They help me out the rest of practice. They do a good job of preparing us and giving us advice on how to prepare our bodies so nothing happens.
“I turned on the TV and looked at the weather and I was like, ‘oh no, here it comes.’ But I think you have to go through the fire to get where you want. . . . You’ve got to be in shape and whoever is in the best shape and plays the best when they get their opportunity is going to win on Saturday.
“As a freshman, they don’t know how you respond adversity and going through physical pain. Some of the older guys are telling you to get up and you’re having trouble. But they know when you’ve gone as hard as you can.
“Freshmen probably don’t know how much we need to push fluids. We go 20 periods at practice plus some special teams. Some of them probably haven’t gone that long or as intensely. We run from drill-to-drill. They may have had 15-minute water breaks in high school. The most we’ll have is five minutes. You’re moving. You don’t have time to stop. It will be culture shock for some of them. At this level you have to practice at a certain intensity and it will challenge them. Those are the guys you have to watch for.”
*** Quarterback Aaron Murray on different feeling going into this season. “I’m just a lot more comfortable. My knowledge of the playbook, my footwork, understanding my progressions, understanding defenses, the game really does slow down for you a lot. You start picking up things a lot faster. You understand the concepts of defenses and pick up little cues here and there. So I think the game is definitely slowing down. I just have to leep working and keep getting better before the season starts.”
Murray on wideouts: “We look great. I don’t think we have any question marks. The way those guys have worked this offseason is unbelievable and it starts with Tavarres King. He’s really taken those guys under his wing. They watch film two or three times a week, work on their footwork, they call me every day of the week to throw routes. Those guys have worked extrmely hard. I’d say right now we have seven or eight guys that could start Game 1 or get in there and play right now and help contribute to this team.”
That’s all for now. Much, much more coming all day, all week, all weekend and all month.