Archive for August, 2012

Malcolm Mitchell the latest defensive starter to be scratched for season opener

Malcolm Mitchell (R) sprained his left ankle in Georgia's walk-through practice on Thursday, meaning Damian Swann (5) will get the start Saturday at boundary corner (AJC photo by Curtis Comption)

Malcolm Mitchell (R) sprained his left ankle in Georgia's walk-through practice on Thursday, meaning Damian Swann (5) will get the start Saturday at boundary corner (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

ATHENS — Yet another defensive starter is going to miss Georgia’s opener against Buffalo.

Malcolm Mitchell, who was moved from wide receiver to cornerback due to attrition in the Bulldogs’ secondary, has been scratched from the game as well. The sophomore from Valdosta reportedly sprained an ankle in Georgia’s “walk-through” practice on Thursday. That’s according to UGA, which closes its practices to the media on the Thursdays before games.

“I can confirm that he sustained a left ankle sprain in yesterday’s practice and will not play in tomorrow’s game vs. Buffalo,” Georgia spokesman Claude Felton said on Friday afternoon. “No projections at this point on his availability for next week’s game.”

No details were provided on how Mitchell actually injured his ankle in a …

Continue reading Malcolm Mitchell the latest defensive starter to be scratched for season opener »

UPDATED: UGA pitcher and former Little League World Series star, arrested on weapons charge

Adds comments from Kyle Carter (12:28 p.m.) . . .

ATHENS — Georgia baseball player Kyle Carter, a freshman pitcher from Columbus and a former Little League World Series star, was arrested earlier this week and charged with simple assault and having a weapon in a school zone.

Carter was arrested by the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s deputies Tuesday morning, booked in the Athens-Clarke County jail at 9:58 a.m. that day and released on $5,000 bond an hour and 21 minutes later. The weapons charge is a felony.

Kyle Carter's booking photo from this past Tuesday morning. (Athens-Clarke County Jail)

Kyle Carter's booking photo from this past Tuesday morning. (Athens-Clarke County Jail)

According to police, Carter’s arrest stemmed from an incident that took place at 2:45 on a.m. on Aug. 19 in the East Commons Village residence hall. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said Friday that Carter threatened with a baseball bat a female unknown to him in his dorm room. The woman had been invited into the room by Carter’s roommate, he said.

“For whatever reason he wanted her to …

Continue reading UPDATED: UGA pitcher and former Little League World Series star, arrested on weapons charge »

‘New guys’ bring unknown to UGA kicking game

ATHENS – On the eve of Georgia’s football season, a key question about the team centers around two untested freshmen. And no, this does not concern the much-hyped rookie tailbacks.

Today’s question: How will placekicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber, each of them 18 years old and three months removed from high school, fare in roles vacated by two seniors who graduated to the NFL?

The most honest answer probably is the one Georgia coach Mark Richt offered when asked this week if Morgan is ready to kick in front of 92,000 fans Saturday against Buffalo: “I don’t know. I don’t know how ready Marshall is. … I think in time he’s going to do extremely well. What will he do the first game, what will he do his first kick, I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see.”

Then Richt added: “And of course Collin is kind of in the same boat.”

Freshman placekicker Marshall Morgan (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Freshman placekicker Marshall Morgan (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Morgan, from Fort Lauderdale, is positioned to take over the field-goal and …

Continue reading ‘New guys’ bring unknown to UGA kicking game »

Marietta High grad returning to Georgia with Buffalo: ‘Dream come true’

Najja Johnson, a Marietta High graduate, had to go far from his home state to play college football. He’ll be back on Saturday as a starting cornerback for Buffalo, which opens the season against Georgia in Sanford Stadium.

Johnson

Johnson

“It’s a dream come true,” Johnson said by phone from Buffalo. “Honestly, I’ve lived my whole life waiting to play between the hedges.

“I grew up a Georgia fan, hoping to be a Bulldog. So it’ll be quite the experience coming down and playing in Athens, although in a different uniform.”

Johnson, a junior, started all 12 Buffalo games last season and led the Mid-American Conference in pass breakups.

At Marietta, he played linebacker and drew little attention from college recruiters. The staff of former Buffalo coach Turner Gill noticed him on film while recruiting other Marietta players.

“They offered me an opportunity to walk on, and I accepted,” said Johnson, who enrolled at Buffalo in 2009 and was put on scholarship last year.

Johnson was born in …

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Video: Talking about Buffalo game, anticipation of big season and those suspensions

Had my weekly back-porch chat with Cinesport’s Noah Coslov. He wanted to know what the vibe was on UGA’s campus this week, what the Bulldogs hope to gain from Saturday’s game against Buffalo and what affect the suspensions of Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo were going to have on the team. Well, see for yourself.

Continue reading Video: Talking about Buffalo game, anticipation of big season and those suspensions »

Georgia promotes ‘Russ’ to Uga IX

Despite the brown patch on his back, "Russ" had the interim title removed from his name and will officially become Uga IX on Saturday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Despite the brown patch on his back, "Russ" had the interim title removed from his name and will officially become Uga IX. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

After two stints as the University of Georgia’s interim mascot, “Russ” will be promoted to Uga IX, the school announced Thursday.

Georgia, in a news release, termed the removal of Russ’ interim tag a “battlefield promotion.”

A ceremony will be held before the Sept. 15 football game against Florida Atlantic to crown Russ, the 8-year-old half-brother of Uga VII, as next in Georgia’s continuous 56-year line of official English Bulldog mascots.

“Like many great and memorable Bulldogs, Russ has earned the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” UGA president Michael Adams said in a statement. “I am confident that he will represent the Bulldog Nation very well and continue the grand tradition of Ugas.”

Russ first served as interim mascot following the November 2009 death of Uga VII, filling in for the final two games of that season …

Continue reading Georgia promotes ‘Russ’ to Uga IX »

Notebook: QB Hutson Mason hopes he doesn’t get called on

GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

ATHENS — If all goes as Hutson Mason hopes, he won’t play Saturday against Buffalo. If he gets his way, he won’t play all season.

That may seem like an odd aspiration for a backup quarterback at an SEC school, but it makes perfect sense to Mason, a junior quarterback from Marietta.

Mason is the Bulldogs’ clear No. 2 quarterback behind three-year starter Aaron Murray. But the Lassiter High graduate hopes to redshirt this season in order to put a year of eligibility between him and Murray. That way he will have at least a year to possibly run the offense as the starter after Murray graduates.

“I never really pictured it to go this way,” said Mason, who set the Georgia high school record for passing yards (4,560) and touchdown passes (54) as a senior. “It’s so funky and there are so many what-ifs.”

The main what-if is Murray. Mason has backed up Murray the past two seasons and has been very impressive in doing so, completing 27 of 47 passes …

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Bulldogs believe David Andrews will play big at center

Georgia center David "Boss" Andrews (R) gets dwarfed next to fello linemen such as Watts Dantzler. But line coach and the Bulldogs say he's "plenty big." (UGA photo)

Georgia center David "Boss" Andrews (R) gets dwarfed next to fello linemen such as Watts Dantzler. But line coach and the Bulldogs say he's "plenty big." (UGA photo)

ATHENS — Go ahead. Make fun of David Andrews. Make fun of his height. Call him “Shorty.”

Andrews is used to it. He hears it all the time, including more than occasionally at Georgia’s own football complex. Every once in a while the Bulldogs’ coaches and players might needle him. Andrews says he loves it.

This just in: Andrews knows he’s not very tall. He’s been in front of a mirror. He’s been to the doctor’s office. He knows exactly how tall he is, and it’s not 6-foot-2 like he’s listed on the Bulldogs’ roster.

But that doesn’t bother Andrews, and apparently it doesn’t bother the Bulldogs either. He’s their starting center heading into Saturday’s season opener against Buffalo. And according to those who have watched him up close and seen him compete against nose guards John Jenkins …

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Notebook: Merritt Hall No. 1 at fullback but not assured of start

If Georgia opens in an I-formation on Saturday, redshirt freshman fullback Merritt Hall will start his first college football game leading the way for tailback Ken Malcome. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

If Georgia opens in an I-formation on Saturday, redshirt freshman fullback Merritt Hall will start his first college football game leading the way for tailback Ken Malcome. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Athens – Merritt Hall was listed as the No. 1 fullback on the depth chart released Tuesday for Georgia’s opener Saturday against Buffalo. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be the starter.

The Bulldogs utilize multiple position groups on offense, meaning they could just as easily start the game with four wideouts or three receivers and a single back as a fullback and a tailback. Ultimately, what formation they open up in will be determined by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Hall is  rooting for a straight I-formation. That would, of course, give him his first collegiate start.

“Coach Bobo knows a lot more than me about running an offense, so I’ll trust him to do that,” said Hall, a redshirt freshman from Alpharetta. “[But starting would] be a big deal …

Continue reading Notebook: Merritt Hall No. 1 at fullback but not assured of start »

Keith Marshall dazzles teammate: ‘He shook two people … both fell down’

Freshman Keith Marshall has been wowing his coaches and teammates with his moves in the open field. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Freshman Keith Marshall has been wowing his coaches and teammates with his moves in the open field. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS – Linebacker Christian Robinson’s enthusiastic account of a play in a recent practice probably will heighten Georgia fans’ anticipation of freshman tailback Keith Marshall’s debut Saturday.

“Keith put a move on somebody the other day that I hadn’t seen in a while,” Robinson said Tuesday. “He shook two people, and they both fell down. That’s pretty special to me because I haven’t seen somebody just blatantly fall down because someone did a move on them.

“Literally, he was untouched. He was running in the middle of the field and made two guys fall and then outran somebody to the pylon. That type of talent, I haven’t seen that in a while. … I’d like to see that in a real game. I think that’d get people excited.”

Robinson said the last Georgia player with “that type of juking ability” was probably wide receiver A.J. Green.

Robinson had high …

Continue reading Keith Marshall dazzles teammate: ‘He shook two people … both fell down’ »

A look at Buffalo, UGA’s opening opponent

Who: vs. Buffalo

When: 12:21 p.m. Saturday

TV; radio: WPCH; 750, 95.5

About Buffalo

Record: 3-9 (2-6 MAC) last season

Last time played: This is the first game between Georgia and Buffalo.

Offense: Running back Branden Oliver, a 5-foot-8, 202-pound junior, is the centerpiece of Buffalo’s  offense. He ran for a school-record 1,395 yards last season and was named first-team All-Mid-American Conference. Junior Alex Zordich won the starting quarterback job this month; he was a backup last season after starting four games as a freshman in 2010. The top receiver is junior Alex Neutz, who had 641 receiving yards last season despite missing the final three games with an injury. Sophomore receiver Cordero Dixon, from North Gwinnett, is one of five Georgians on the Buffalo roster, two of whom start.

Defense: Junior linebacker Khalil Mack, a first-team All-MAC selection last year, is suspended from Saturday’s game after a reported altercation with a teammate. Sophomore linebacker Lee …

Continue reading A look at Buffalo, UGA’s opening opponent »

UPDATED: Richt mum but suspensions still expected for Rambo, Ogletree

ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt remained tight-lipped about the availability of safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree for Saturday’s season opener against Buffalo.

It has been reported since March that the two all-star defenders are suspended for the first four games following a second violation of the UGA athletic association’s marijuana-use policy. However, neither Richt nor any UGA officials have confirmed those reports to date.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs listed both players as starters in the depth chart for the first game, which was released before Tuesday’s weekly news conference. However, Richt retreated into evasive mode when asked what he expected to see from those players during Saturday’s game.

“I just think we’ll have to wait and see,” he said coyly. “Time will tell.”

Alan Ingram, Rambo’s head coach at Seminole County High in Donalsonville, said in no uncertain terms back in March that Rambo told him he was going to be suspended for the first four games …

Continue reading UPDATED: Richt mum but suspensions still expected for Rambo, Ogletree »

Malcolm Mitchell looks forward to playing dual role

Malcolm Mitchell has no intentions of looking to the past.

On Monday, he admitted his decision to move from wide receiver to cornerback in the spring bothered him at first. But the point of no return has long come and gone.

“That was a choice that I’m not going to deal with right now,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to work out good for me. When I look at the receivers, I know that I’m going to be back over there eventually. Or I’ll be doing both [playing offense and defense]. So as long as I can do both, it doesn’t matter.”

Mitchell said he got back to running routes with receivers on Saturday, enjoying taking reps with his former unit. Its significance, or lack thereof, was something Mitchell couldn’t answer.

“I have no idea,” he said of the coaching staff’s plans for him. “What they’re doing, I have no clue.”

The rest of the receiving corps has taken a nonchalant view of Mitchell’s situation. Yes, they want him back on offense. But they don’t believe they need him. …

Continue reading Malcolm Mitchell looks forward to playing dual role »

Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn: ‘Really, we have nothing to lose’ against Georgia

Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said his Bulls team is going to have to focus on "out-executing" Georgia in all three phases of the game to be able to compete Saturday. (Photo from University at Buffalo)

Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said his Bulls team is going to have to focus on "out-executing" Georgia in all three phases of the game to be able to compete Saturday. (Photo from University at Buffalo)

The Buffalo Bulls will come south to visit the state of Georgia for the first time in the school’s history as they meet the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. But it won’t be the Bulls’ first foray into SEC football.

Buffalo played Tennessee in Neyland Stadium last year, losing 41-10. It also played at Auburn in 2006, falling 38-6. Coach Jeff Quinn, speaking on the Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference call said it is the Bulls’ philosophy to take on at least one major college program every year. They actually played at both Penn State (45-24 loss) and Baylor (34-21 loss) in 2007. Of course, they do it for the money for their athletic department budgets and “to gauge where we’re at” against the best teams in the country, Quinn said.

The Bulls will bring 66 players …

Continue reading Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn: ‘Really, we have nothing to lose’ against Georgia »

Howard, Williamson fired up about 20th season on UGA broadcasts

This will be the 20th season on Georgia’s radio broadcast team for both Scott Howard and Neil Williamson. In 1993, they joined the team as color analyst and pregame show co-host, respectively. Howard succeeded the legendary Larry Munson as play-by-play voice in 2008, and Williamson has maintained his spot alongside Loran Smith on the “Tailgate Show.”  On the cusp of their 20th season, which opens Saturday against Buffalo in Sanford Stadium, Howard and Williamson chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about past and present. (Answers were edited for length.)

AJC: What, to you, is the most memorable moment in the past two decades of UGA football?

Howard: “I get asked that a lot. The one that always jumps out to me is the Tennessee game in 2001, the ‘Hobnail Boot’ game as it became known [because of Munson’s famous call of Georgia’s game-winning play: ‘We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their face.’] It was just one …

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Dome is destination for Lee brothers, Dallas (UGA) and Dillon (Bama)

Divided loyalties can't divide the Lee family, which includes Georgia guard Dallas Lee (L), Alabama linebacker Dillon Lee (R) and Lisa and Robert Lee. (Lee family photo)

Divided loyalties can't divide the Lee family, which includes Georgia guard Dallas Lee (L), Alabama linebacker Dillon Lee (R) and Lisa and Robert Lee. (Lee family photo)

ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs were scheduled to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 6th of this year until Missouri and Texas A&M accepted the SEC’s invitation to join the expanding conference last fall. That meant league schedules, booked years in advance, had to be reshuffled. The SEC replaced Alabama with Missouri on Georgia’s slate.

Nobody was happier about that change than Georgia alum and longtime fan Lisa Lee. Never mind win-loss implications.

Lee is the mother of Dallas Lee, who is the starting left offensive guard for Georgia. She’s also mom to Dillon Lee, who is a freshman linebacker at Alabama. She was sweating out that Oct. 6 date since the spring of 2011 when it first became apparent that her youngest son was not going to follow his big brother’s footsteps.

“We were …

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Notebook: Kenarious Gates welcomes responsibility of new position

ATHENS — Kenarious Gates vividly remembers the night in February 2010 when Stacy Searels, then Georgia’s offensive line coach, called with a belated scholarship offer.

“Like, I’d say, two days before signing day … 10 o’clock at night, a Monday night,” said Gates, who at the time was committed to Kentucky. “No matter how late the opportunity came … sometimes things don’t come on time.

Gates

Gates

“I felt like it was a great opportunity to go for it, and I took it. … I was so happy that night. Actually, I couldn’t sleep that night because I was so happy. I went to school the next day and told everybody I’m going to Georgia.”

Fast-forward 2 ½ years. Gates, the last-minute recruit, will open the season as Georgia’s starting left tackle, a crucial position that carries responsibility for protecting quarterback Aaron Murray’s blind side.

“I feel like to protect my quarterback I’ve got to do my job every play,” Gates said.

The 6-foot-5, 328-pound junior takes over at the position from …

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UGA’s Jarryd Wallace ready to make a run at 2012 Paralympic Games in London

Jarryd Wallace practices his block work uder the watchful eye of personal coach Ross Ridgewell, his former track teammate at UGA. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin

Jarryd Wallace practices his block work under the watchful eye of personal coach Ross Ridgewell, his former track teammate at UGA. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

NOTE: This story is running in Sunday’s print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There is some bonus material at the end of the story.

ATHENS – Jarryd Wallace is not what you’d call a time waster. This is particularly useful considering he is in the business of accomplishing certain tasks quickly.

Wallace, you see, is a world-class runner. But his most impressive accomplishment to date has been more in the area of goal-setting.

The 22-year-old from Athens currently is in London preparing to run in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Wallace is one of 55 U.S. track athletes to qualify for the 11-day games, which begin Wednesday. He’ll compete in the 400-meter dash and as an alternate for the 4×100-meter relay team. If all goes well, Wallace will run Sept. 5, 7 and 8.

What makes that accomplishment even …

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UGA notes: a trip to the pool, plus updates on kickers, tight ends, QBs

Cornelius Washington jumps during Dogs' visit to Ramsey. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

Cornelius Washington jumps during Dogs' visit to Ramsey. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

ATHENS – About the time Georgia’s football players were scheduled to trek onto the practice field Friday afternoon, a loud cheer erupted from the team meeting room, easily heard a floor away in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

It could have been mistaken for the celebration of a big victory over an arch-rival.

Actually, the uproar was in reaction to coach Mark Richt’s announcement that the planned two-hour physical practice would be canceled and replaced by a trip to the pool inside the Ramsey Student Center.

“We’ve been grinding,” tailback-fullback Richard Samuel said. “So being able to get your mind off practice and your mind off football, guys were excited about that.”

Jarvis Jones in action at the pool. (UGA photo by Steve Colquitt)

Jarvis Jones in action at the pool. (UGA photo by Steve Colquitt)

It’s something of a preseason tradition for Richt to surprise his team by exchanging one practice for a pool trip, …

Continue reading UGA notes: a trip to the pool, plus updates on kickers, tight ends, QBs »

UGA notebook: Two positions for Washington; Samuel ‘1B’ at fullback?

ATHENS — Cornelius Washington, who played outside linebacker last season and moved to defensive end in the spring, has practiced at both positions this month.

So what is Georgia’s plan for him this fall?

Both of the above, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after practice Thursday.

“He’s going to play both in a rotation,” Grantham said, “and I think he’s going to have a really good year.”

Grantham elaborated: “When he puts his hand in the dirt as a true defensive lineman, you have some athletic ability, a little bit of a mismatch on guards sometime in space, so that’s a benefit. And then because of his body type and athletic ability, he can still play outside ’backer … and give you some pass rush out there.”

When Washington is at linebacker, Grantham mentioned several options at end: Garrison Smith; starting nose guard John Jenkins, who “knows how to play some end too”; and Ray Drew, who “can do some things.”

“We’re going to mix and match those guys to try to get …

Continue reading UGA notebook: Two positions for Washington; Samuel ‘1B’ at fullback? »

After ‘waiting my turn,’ Dogs’ Damian Swann ready to produce

ATHENS – After a quiet freshman season last year, Georgia cornerback Damian Swann is looking forward to making some noise.

A celebrated member of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super 11 team in high school, Swann played sparingly last season at a well-stocked position. But with the graduation of three-year starter Brandon Boykin and the two-game suspension of senior Sanders Commings, Georgia now needs and expects much from Swann.

“It’s time to get to business,” he said this week.

For the first two games –- the Sept. 1 home opener against Buffalo and the Sept. 8 SEC opener at Missouri – Georgia’s top cornerbacks figure to be, in no particular order: Branden Smith, a senior who started seven games last year; Malcolm Mitchell, a sophomore who moved from wide receiver to defense amid much fanfare in the spring; and Swann.

“When I came in, I was behind some top guys, and I just had to wait my turn,” Swann said. “We lost a key player when Boykin graduated, and I feel those shoes …

Continue reading After ‘waiting my turn,’ Dogs’ Damian Swann ready to produce »

It was love at first sight for Georgia and tailback Todd Gurley

Following is a story on Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley that ran in Thursday’s print section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Below you will find some bonus commentary from Tarboro High School coach Jeff Craddock that was unable to fit into the story. . . .

Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon knew right away he wanted to bring Todd Gurley to Athens. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon knew right away he wanted to bring Todd Gurley to Athens. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

ATHENS — Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon remembers distinctly when he first got the heads up about the big back from Tarboro, N.C.

McClendon had just come off the road during an open recruiting period and planned to spend a couple of days around the house when he got a call from a coach in North Carolina. That coach told McClendon, “I’ve seen this guy, and I really think you need to check him out.”

Skeptical at first, McClendon asked the coach to send him some video so he could get a look. A video file arrived via email a short time later and McClendon …

Continue reading It was love at first sight for Georgia and tailback Todd Gurley »

Georgia ‘wins’ practice game; Malcome likely starter at tailback

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he's "pretty sure" sophomore Ken Malcome will get the start at tailback in the Bulldogs' season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Wednesday he's "pretty sure" sophomore Ken Malcome will get the start at tailback in the Bulldogs' season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt was having way too much fun with this whole “practice game” theme on Wednesday. He excitedly announced that the Bulldogs’ “won” Wednesday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium 49-48 over “Buffalo” in overtime.

That may sound somewhat distressing to UGA fans until they realize that Georgia played just one half and its traveling squad spotted the scout team (aka Buffalo) 35 points. Also, one of the Bulls’ touchdowns came after Richt placed the ball on the Georgia 11-yard line.

“But we could have stopped them or forced a field goal,” Richt said with a grin.

Fictional scores aside, Wednesday’s “dress rehearsal” scrimmage was an important component in the Bulldogs’ preparation for the Sept. 1 season opener. Georgia went through their entire pregame …

Continue reading Georgia ‘wins’ practice game; Malcome likely starter at tailback »

Atlanta submits bid for SEC-Big 12 ‘Champions Bowl’

Atlanta and at least four other cities submitted bids this week to host the Champions Bowl, a new college football postseason game between SEC and Big 12 teams.

Atlanta’s bid is a 100-page document “that answers all the questions and hopefully puts our best foot forward,” Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, said Wednesday.

Still, “we know we are an underdog” in the bidding, Stokan said.

That’s because Atlanta already hosts -– and wants to continue to host — the SEC Championship game annually. The SEC might be reluctant to put back-to-back events in the same city, and the Big 12 might be reluctant to put the new event on what could be regarded as an SEC home field.

The bowl begins with the 2014 season.

Other cities known to have submitted bids by Wednesday’s deadline are Arlington, Texas, site of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium; New Orleans, which has long ties to the SEC through the Sugar Bowl; Houston; and San Antonio. Several other cities declined invitations from …

Continue reading Atlanta submits bid for SEC-Big 12 ‘Champions Bowl’ »

UGA Olympians happy to be back in school but still enjoying limelight

UGA swimmers and Olympic gold medalists Allison Schmitt (L) and Shannon Vreeland share a laugh as they answer reporters' questions Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

UGA swimmers and Olympic gold medalists Allison Schmitt (L) and Shannon Vreeland share a laugh as they answer reporters' questions Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

ATHENS -- There were a lot of smiles, a lot of laughs and a couple of big chunks of gold being shared Wednesday at the University of Georgia.

Allison Schmitt and Shannon Vreeland — two of 14 UGA swimmers past, present and future represented at the 2012 Olympic Games — came to the Bulldogs’ football complex on Wednesday to talk about their experiences in London and show off their gold medals. Schmitt, a senior, won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze and Vreeland, a junior, won one gold during the games.

Both athletes returned to Georgia for fall semester to resume for their college careers. Needless to say, Jack Bauerle’s Bulldogs ought to be pretty decent in the pool this year.

“I feel pretty good about our relays,” Bauerle said with a sly grin. “I think we’ll be all …

Continue reading UGA Olympians happy to be back in school but still enjoying limelight »

Video: What’s all the fuss about Gurley, why fewer in injuries and who’s returning kicks?

Cinesport’s Brian Clark dialed me up and wanted to ask me about Georgia’s freshman tailback Todd Gurley, the lack of injuries in preseason camp and some other things. Click the video below and you can hear all about it.

Continue reading Video: What’s all the fuss about Gurley, why fewer in injuries and who’s returning kicks? »

Georgia’s Branden Smith longs to ‘take it to the house’

Georgia senior Branden Smith hopes to see a lot of green in front of his on kick returns this fall. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia senior Branden Smith hopes to see a lot of green in front of him in the return game this fall. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — Branden Smith knows he’s going to be on the field a lot for Georgia this fall. He’s going to be the starting field cornerback and he’s likely to get an occasional snap on offense, as he has the past couple of seasons.

But there’s one time in particular Smith really wants to be in the game — on punt returns.

“I want it bad,” Smith said of winning the job as No. 1 return man. “A punt return or a kick return can make or break a game. You need a key player back there. I want to be back there.”

Smith started last season as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 punt returner but eventually lost the job to Brandon Boykin, who went on to win the Paul Hornung Award. With Boykin now in the NFL, Smith would seem the logical choice to handle it his senior season. But he’s not leaving it to chance.

“We’re still competing for the job right now,” Smith said …

Continue reading Georgia’s Branden Smith longs to ‘take it to the house’ »

Georgia’s Todd Gurley scoffs at comparisons to Trent Richardson

ATHENS – Nobody is sure yet what Georgia has in tailback Todd Gurley. The freshman from Tarboro, N.C., has been the Bulldogs’ leading rusher in their first two scrimmages and has impressed coaches and teammates with his size and speed during preseason camp.

But if nothing else, it’s becoming clear that Gurley is well-grounded. He just laughed this week when he was informed that senior safety Shawn Williams compared him to Alabama’s Trent Richardson.

“I think he probably compared me to him because I wear No. 3 and I have dreads like Trent Richardson,” Gurley told reporters after practice Monday. “I have a long, long, long way to go to be like Trent Richardson. But, I mean , just for a starting senior here and one of the key leaders on the team to call me that, that’s big. I’ll just take that and keep working with it. That’s a nice compliment there.”

It certainly is. Richardson rushed for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns at Alabama, including 1,679 this past season as he led …

Continue reading Georgia’s Todd Gurley scoffs at comparisons to Trent Richardson »

Notebook: Shorthanded Bulldogs enjoying fewer injuries than usual

GEORGIA PRACTICE NOTEBOOK

ATHENS – Georgia on Monday complete its third of five straight full-pads, full-contact practices. Yet the injury report that the Bulldogs circulate at the end of every workout was shorter than it has been since the first week of camp.

The list included only five names. One of them was wide receiver Tavarres King, who was labeled as “limited” with a lower leg strain but appeared to run every drill and pass route at full speed without a noticeable problems. Another was starting center David Andrews with an illness from which he’s expected to make a quick return. Backup guard Hunter Long (broken foot) was the only player who will be sidelined multiple weeks. The other three were walkons.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, perhaps knocking on wood underneath the table at which he sat, acknowledged that the this year’s injured numbers have been “very low.” Asked for theories why, he proceeded to laundry-list them:

  • “We’ve been on grass the whole time, which I think …

Continue reading Notebook: Shorthanded Bulldogs enjoying fewer injuries than usual »

UGA scholarship recipient Connor Norman ‘not like a Rudy’

Connor Norman has made his mark at Georgia by playing special teams. But the Bulldogs are going to need his help on defense this fall. (UGA photo)

Connor Norman has made his mark at Georgia by playing special teams, but the Bulldogs are going to need his help on defense this fall. (UGA photo)

Note: A version of this story ran in print over the weekend. . . .

ATHENS – When he arrived at Georgia, Connor Norman was just another obscure walkon buried on a roster of 125 players. But that’s not the case anymore.

Norman was one of seven walkons recently awarded grants-in-aid by the Bulldogs’ coaching staff. Not coincidentally, he’s not buried on the depth chart anymore either.

In fact, Norman is among the exclusive group of Georgia players pretty much guaranteed to play in every game. Norman laughed when asked if his new-found scholarship-status had raised his profile around campus.

“No, nothing really has changed,” said Norman, a redshirt sophomore from Duluth. “I have all my same friends and everything’s the same. I got free books [last week] and that was nice. It was weird going in there and just walking out with …

Continue reading UGA scholarship recipient Connor Norman ‘not like a Rudy’ »