ATHENS – There are lot of things Georgia players don’t want to be called but one of the main ones this season is “energy vampire.”
“Energy vampire” is a new distinction the Bulldogs have come up with for somebody on the team who doesn’t meet certain standards or who complains. If a teammate nominated by another player for the “energy vampire” board and coach Mark Richt approves, he ends up with his pictured plastered all over video boards in the weight room, usually photo-shopped to include fangs and other unflattering enhancements.
“If you say something negative, if you’re not doing something positive when we’re doing activities as a team, you can be called an ‘energy vampire,” explains sophomore linebacker Chase Vasser. “Anybody who hears you say something like ‘I don’t want to be here,’ you can be turned into the coach and you’ll get your face on the board. They’ll take a picture of you and put a wig on you with some vampire teeth and crazy-looking eyes.”
Actually it’s a motivational technique that Richt borrowed from Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
“There’s a book called ‘The Energy Bus.’ John Gordon wrote it,” Richt said. “It’s something that Coach Smith of the Falcons had read and incorporated it with his team. When he came to speak at our summer clinic he was talking about a positive attitude. He said when guys aren’t positive they call them ‘energy vampires.’ So I was asking him about that and that’s where he came from.”
Richt said anybody can end up on the energy vampire board. “Even me.” But all nominations have to come through him.
“I don’t want [the players] just taking it over and making up stuff,” Richt said “It’s got to be legit.”
The bottom line, Richt said, “We’re looking for guys who want to be positive.”
As for the photo-shopping. “We’ve got people in charge of that,.” he said.
Branden Smith continues to impress
The Bulldogs had their first full-contact practice Monday morning and, as expected, it made for a lively workout.
Once again, Branden Smith came away making the play of the day. The junior cornerback hit an unnamed freshman receiver so hard it knocked his helmet off.
“I was just trying to show them that this is not high school football anymore. This is SEC football,” Smith said.
Over the weekend, Smith had five interceptions in one practice.
“Branden Smith has really continued to impress me,” Richt said. “He’s just practicing with a greater focus than I’ve ever seen him practice with. He’s a lot more physical. He’s not a big man so it’s hard to be totally dominant. But he’s playing physical and with an edge that he hasn’t shown before. I’m really impressed with what he’s showing out there.”
Officially, Richt said the defense won using the scoring system they use each day. He said it was tied 17-17 going into the last four or five plays and the No. 3 defense dominated the No. 3 offense.
Boykin on Hornung watch list
Georgia’s Brandon Boykin has been named to yet another watch list, and this latest one seems very well-suited for him.
The senior cornerback and return specialist was included on the preliminary list of candidates for the Paul Hornung Award, sponsored by the Louisville Sports Commission. The Hornung, named for the former Green Bay Packers great, is given annually to the player considered most versatile player in college football.
Boykin finished 2010 with 44 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. Boykins is UGA’s leader in career kickoff return yards with 1,813 and is the only player in SEC history to have three 100-yard plays of any kind. He’s also Georgia’s active leader with six career picks and has started and played in every game the last two seasons.
Boykin is also on watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award, Jim Thorpe Award and CFPA Defensive Back Award & Kickoff Returner Award.
Gilliard looks good as a Mike
Another player drawing a lot of praise is inside linebacker Mike Gilliard. The junior from Valdosta is currently the second-team “Mike” linebacker behind Christian Robinson.
“Mike is one of the guys that has flipped the switch, so to speak,” Richt said. “He just got very serious about doing it the Georgia way. You can see it in his body language, just his stature. He’s stronger. He’s focused. He wants to be a consistent player and hopefully he’s a guy who’s going to play a lot for us. I’ve seen a lot of good from him
They said it
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on the incoming freshmen: “We’ve got some athletic guys at the skill positions. They’ve got a chance to be some of the most athletic guys we’ve had at Georgia since I’ve been here. All of them are green, all of them are learning, their head’s are spinning. But you see them make plays and I feel good about those guys.
Asked to elaborate, Bobo said, “[Malcolm] Mitchell, Christian Conley, Christian LeMay, and those guys on defense: Damian Swann, Nick Marshall, Chris Sanders. I mean those are some athletic jokers that are making some plays.”
This and that
Georgia will hold two practices on Tuesday, one at 8:45 a.m. and the other at 5 p.m. It will have just one other two-a-day. . . . Tailbacks Richard Samuel and Isaiah Crowell split time with the No. 1 offense on Monday. “Those two guys were impressive today,” Richt said. . . . Tailback Brandon Harton was out with “mild concussion.” He should return later this week . . . Freshman cornerback Chris Sanders was held out of contact due to bruised shoulder suffered Sunday. . . . . Boykin and Jakar Hamilton are still out with hamstring pulls. . . . Smith said he’ll be returning punts again, or at least intends to. “There’s competition there. Me, Boykin, TK [Tavarres King] and some freshmen. But I’m not going to make it easy for them.”