Practice notes: Focus on freshmen kickers, Theus update, and more

ATHENS -- The first of Georgia’s two practices Tuesday was devoted to special teams, where the Bulldogs’ kicking game is in transition with freshmen Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber seeking to establish themselves as the placekicker and punter, respectively.

“They’re good. They’ve got leg strength. They’ve got everything you could want in a freshman kicker and punter,” said Ty Frix, Georgia’s senior long snapper, who worked with Morgan and Barber three or four days a week all summer. “But with everything, they’re freshmen; we’ve still got to keep working and maximize the next three weeks to get where we need to be.”

Blair Walsh was Georgia’s placekicker the past four seasons and Drew Butler its punter the past three. Walsh and Butler now are in NFL training camps with the Vikings and Steelers, respectively.

Freshmen “are not going to come in and fill those shoes right away, but they’re darn good, both of them,” Frix said of Morgan, who is from Fort Lauderdale, and Barber, from Cartersville.

At Tuesday morning’s closed practice, Morgan made about 75 percent of his field-goal attempts, according to Richt, who noted “in a drill like that, you always want to hit them all.”

“I thought our extra points and field goals were not where they need to be yet,” Richt said. “… There was a little inconsistency there, not as deadly accurate as you’d want. A lot of it is just getting used to going full speed with live pressure and a new holder and just being in Sanford Stadium.”

It was the Bulldogs’ first practice held in the stadium this preseason.

Senior Jamie Lindley, a walk-on who has been in the program for four years, also kicked, Richt said.

Barber showed “some outstanding hang time” on his punts, Richt said.

Jarvis Jones tests Theus

Highly regarded freshman offensive tackle John Theus has been going up against Jarvis Jones, the All-American linebacker, in practice.

“I’m trying to make it my business to have him ready from Day 1,” Jones said. “… He’s doing great. He’s young, but he’s definitely learning.”

(Note: Between practices Tuesday, Jones also had some interesting comments about his decision not to enter this year’s NFL draft and about the future. Click here for that.)

Richt said Theus “is right there in that battle” for a starting job.

“John has not gotten to the point where we’re going to name him the starter yet, but I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s going to play,” Richt said. “And he knows that.”

Scrimmage on Wednesday

Georgia will hold its first scrimmage of the preseason Wednesday morning in Sanford Stadium. The scrimmage will be closed to the public and, except for the warmup portion, closed to the media.

The competition at tailback among veterans Richard Samuel and Ken Malcome and freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley will continue to play out.

“I’m not too worried about the depth chart at tailback after the scrimmage. I’m really mostly just concerned how many of these guys can get ready to play SEC football,” Richt said. “I know Richard can. I know Ken can.

“The other two, we’ve got to just see how ready they’ll be. I’m already convinced they both can run the ball. They seem to have outstanding habits as far as their ball security. But they’re still learning how to pass-protect. No matter how many drills you put them in … the scrimmages are the best gauge of how ready they are.”

Veterans on special teams

Jones said he is currently working on the punt-coverage team, and senior safety Shawn Williams said he wants to play on “all” of the special teams.

This is a reflection of Richt’s plan, declared in the spring, to use more veteran players on special teams.

“In the past, you’d say, ‘Hey, if your heart is not in it, don’t get on the [special] team.’ You want guys whose heart is in it,” Richt said Tuesday. “But this year, we’re saying, ‘If you don’t want to be on a special team, you change your heart to get where you want to be on a special team.’”

Etc.

Cornerback Damian Swann was in a green non-contact jersey at Tuesday afternoon’s practice because of a neck sprain. . . .  . Offensive lineman Chris Burnette returned to practice after missing two days (illness). . . . Defensive end Abry Jones (knee contusion) resumed practice, while DE Ray Drew (concussion) remained sidelined. . . . Outside linebacker Dexter Morant was out with a right shoulder sprain. . . . Safety Shawn Williams has high goals for his senior season. “I want to be an All-American,” he said, adding that his goals include leading the SEC in interceptions… . Richt said coaches are looking at “a bunch” of potential punt returners, including Malcolm Mitchell, Branden Smith, Bacarri Rambo,  Swann and Rhett McGowan. On kickoff returns, coaches are looking at Smith, Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Marshall and Gurley, according to Richt.

RECENT REPORTS FROM UGA FOOTBALL PRACTICES:

167 comments Add your comment

buzzkill

August 7th, 2012
7:55 pm

CHDawg

August 7th, 2012
7:57 pm

Let’s put Big John 6 back on those kickoffs! He may not break it, but it would be fun to watch. Let’s take it to the BCS with a victory this year Dawgs!

CHDawg

August 7th, 2012
8:00 pm

Motel 6 and Kwame Sunami are going to be tough to block this year. I like the idea of the D seeing it as their responsibility in getting our young line ready to handle anything!

Bad Dawg

August 7th, 2012
8:02 pm

The good thing about having inexperienced punters and kickers is that is will force Richt to make some tough decisions on 4th down about moving the chains. Maybe they come up with some fake punts and field goals. I wouldn’t bet money on Marshall Morgan or Collin Barber coming through in the clutch so I hope the team is preparing as such.

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
8:02 pm

I think Theus is going to be a great player……but it is not a good sign when a true freshman offensive lineman is pushing to start for a team…..in the SEC. No matter how good he is…..a freshman is not physically or mentally ready for what he is going to face in the SEC on Saturdays. Star freshman OL only come around occasionally in the SEC. But Georgia may not have any choice…..but he better grow up real fast or he will get eaten alive by SEC DL and LBs. Practicing against Jones will certainly help him prepare…..but it will not be the same thing he will be facing in a real SEC game.

TY

August 7th, 2012
8:06 pm

Wow, when was the last time anyone mentioned a team player the caliber of Jones challenging but encouraging a freshman. Great leadership and winning attitude. If that rubs off on the rest of the team things will be great this year.

Bad Dawg

August 7th, 2012
8:07 pm

CHDawg, Sorry but UGA won’t make a BCS bowl my friend. Looks like Alabama and LSU will take the 2 spots in the BCS again. The Capital One or Outback Bowl is the likely destination sadly.

CHDawg

August 7th, 2012
8:34 pm

Bad Dawg, you could be right, but I wouldn’t sell the ‘12 Dawgs short, amigo. Great defense has always been the key to winning championships, and we could have our best defense in my memory, and I’m getting pretty old! The offense is a big unknown, but we have a lot of talent and experience at some of the key positions. Watching it unfold is what makes it interesting! Nobody south of the Almighty Himself knows what will happen tomorrow, but you are entitled to your educated guess. And yes, LSU and Bama both look to be very strong this year–again.

Lawdawg

August 7th, 2012
8:45 pm

CHDawg I think you are right. You can say what you will about Bama, but they never won a championship based on an outstanding offense. The same can be said for LSU.

Bad Dawg

August 7th, 2012
8:56 pm

I think the D could be scary good but I need to see them hold a good offense under 21 points. My opinion is based on the fact that say UGA does make it to the SECCG again I don’t see them getting past LSU or Alabama. Which leaves UGA on the outside looking in. I hope I’m wrong though. Its been too long since UGA has been to a BCS bowl game.

Dawg Haus

August 7th, 2012
9:07 pm

Hoping for good things this season. Go Dawgs!!

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
9:22 pm

Lawdawg…..

How about the 2009 Bama offense….I would say is was really good….and their defense the same…hard to beat….Ask Florida….who’s defense was not as good as the offense.

and….

How about that 2008 Gator team…..really good offense and really good defense. Hard to beat. Ask Bama…who had a really good defense that year but not as good an offense.

and LSU lost the NC game because their offense was not as good as Bama’s offense…..which was really good in that game….and LSU’s offense was not very good.

CHDawg

August 7th, 2012
9:23 pm

One of the most interesting aspects of being a college FB fan is watching how the players develop. For instance, Shockley continued to improve throughout his whole senior season. I don’t think we ever saw his complete potential. Likewise, our D improved a lot last year as the challenges progressed, much like the ‘07 D. The big difference is that almost all of them are back. We are as deep as I can remember in the front 7, and I think we have some All Americans yet to be discovered. Of the low profile guys, I particularly like Garrison Smith—from the first set of downs I noticed him, he reminded me of David Pollack…only bigger. Motor never stops. I have several more guys I am watching. Of the high profile guys, Ogeltree gets constant press, but I’m not sure we have ever seen what he is capable of doing. He has made some big plays, but the way the coaches and players talk about him, you feel like he still hasn’t hit his zenith on the field. No doubt, Boykin’s shoes will be the toughest to fill on the defensive side of the ball. But, if they pick up where they left off last year–improving each week, we might be able to stop anybody when it counts later in the season. This year should be really interesting for us to watch.

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
9:24 pm

Point of above…..it is hard to win a national title with just a really good defense. You have to have a really good and deep offense….with a very strong offensive line…..and I think that will be Georgia’s downfall this year….and why they are not nearly as good as LSU and Bama. Just my opinion.

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
9:28 pm

Bad Dawg…..

You may be right about the Dawg defense….but you may also be wrong. They played poorly vs. LSU and Michigan State in the second half of those games. Boise State also picked apart that defense….but that was early. But they are a year old and a year wiser….and deeper. Could be a good year….if no one gets injured on defense and no one gets injured on the OL.

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
9:29 pm

…….and no one does anything really dumb.

SEC Fact Finder

August 7th, 2012
9:32 pm

It sounds like UGA is putting together various levels of rotations at the OL and running back positions. The Burnette kid needs to get back into the rotation after his illness and UGA and Coach Friend really need to get their units set within the next 5 days to build up and game plan for their opener. The good thing for UGA is there is not a Boise St. in the first week allowing time to see freshmen compete in a game prior to the SEC play.

Putting a True Freshman at tackle is always a risk, however there have been a few good a Freshmen over the years who have gone on to play pretty well as freshmen on that island. The true test will come when he plays a team that over under stunts and overloads his side of the ball.

Good luck to all of you and your SEC teams.

Tampa Gator

August 7th, 2012
9:51 pm

Fact Finder…..

Bama had the #1 tackle recruit in the nation last year, right? Think he would have been a star if he had started last year. Having a year to get bigger and stronger….and work with experienced OL….had to help him for this year….and I expect he will be a really good lineman this year and for several years to come as a result. Five star Xavier Nixon was thrown to the SEC wolves his freshmen year at Florida….and he developed some really bad habits that has hindered his progress since. Coach Davis and the new S&C coach have really helped him since their arrival….and I think he will have an outstanding Senior year….if he stays healthy….at LT for the Gators. As Muschamp said in his after practice media conference the other day…..”If you are doing your job as a head coach, you should not be starting freshman (he was referring to Humphries and Dunker) on your offensive line”…..or too many in other positions either.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

August 7th, 2012
10:06 pm

Can’t believe some of you people are even thinking NC! Come on…

umyboyBlue17

August 7th, 2012
10:12 pm

anything at right tackle would be better than what we saw last year. Block to the echo of the whistle,block downfield. Running backs never stop giving full effort on running plays, linemen should’nt either.

SEC Fact Finder

August 7th, 2012
10:14 pm

Tampa Gator,

I agree, if a coach and his assistants are doing their job they should not be putting a true freshman in the awkward position of playing at OT unless injuries or suspensions have occurred. CK at Alabama was not ready to play full time in 2011, he was ready to get some snaps but he would have gotten chewed up week after week playing against SEC caliber LB’s DE, OLB. It takes a very very special young man to line up on the OL and play as a true freshmen, “Unless” he enrolled early, went through spring practice, lifted all winter, spring and summer, conditioned and studied his playbook. Even then it is tough. The Theus kid may be that kind of player, he committed early to UGA, stayed with his committment and may offer some relief to a group that is considered the weakest aspect of UGA’s football team.

Good Luck TG, did you make it up to practice? I will be there tomorrow for about 3 hours for a rules review with administrators and support staff. Then I am off to Missouri for a few days and work my way back to Tampa in 10 days. Stay healthy my friend.

Dawg-Gawn

August 7th, 2012
10:19 pm

The 2012 seniors have come up with their own slogan for this season “Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets” the seniors have taken over leadership of this team… it is no longer coach driven but a player driven team.

@Tampa Gator: I believe John Theus will compete quite well against the athletes of Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Ole Miss, and Kentucky. He is being groomed for that position, while not named the starter, he will get plenty of playing time. (creating OL depth) This is sending a direct message to Larmery Tunsil that he too can take the same path next year at LT if he should wish to do so!

Believe in the “G”

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2012
10:22 pm

That Jones kid from USCw has turned into a great player and a true team leader for you Dawgs. Nice story considering all he went through before arriving at UGA.

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2012
10:24 pm

“Believe in the “G”

Packers fan?

Dawg-Gawn

August 7th, 2012
10:34 pm

Beast: That G is balling too!

Showmeyurtd's

August 7th, 2012
10:50 pm

R u kidding me? We are fielding a team worst than USC who is on scholarship limits. They are on sanctions and have more scholarship players then Coach Mediocre. Say it ain’t so. Go dawgs

frank

August 7th, 2012
11:02 pm

Did Mark Rick take the boys diving yet? Its about that time of year aint it?

wrightsville dawg

August 7th, 2012
11:28 pm

how can it be a closed practice at sanford stadium? cant you go over and look over the stadium on sanford drive on a regular day? ive seen signs prohibiting motor traffic but foot traffic?

ole dawg

August 8th, 2012
1:19 am

Beast… USCw? Really? Now that is funny! Aint but one USC and I visited it last week on vacation. Nobody vacations in Columbia, SC so that tells you something.

Bid4dream

August 8th, 2012
1:20 am

Avail heavy discounts on properties covering flats, farm houses and other real estate ventures, various tours around the world, on electronic items, luxury items, shopping coupons. You can also post your requirement we will get best deal for you.

7576DAWG

August 8th, 2012
1:44 am

CMR says that the players don’t have a choice when being considered on special teams this year. If the coaches want them to play special teams then they will be expected to play special teams. HE@@, I thought that was the way if has always been and now we find out they had the choice. No wonder we had one of the worst Special Teams last year.I could have sworn CMR said last year the best players would always be on the field.

59bulldawg

August 8th, 2012
4:41 am

@Tampa Gator at 8:02 on August 7. That’s one possible take. We definitely have OL issues. And I agree with what you say about typical freshmen. But another take is that the kid may be special. Time will tell whether he is typical or exceptional. I’m not a blind homer but I’m thinking the latter.

DawgNation

August 8th, 2012
7:03 am

My daughter asked who is Jan Kemp the other day and I responded, “Exactly!”

PaulPaul

August 8th, 2012
7:20 am

Ben Jones did well as a freshman. I think he started every game and made a huge difference. The first time I saw him block in one on one drills he was as good as you can see. Theus may be in that same mold from what I have seen and heard. Everyone develops differently and this young man seems to be an exception. With Jarvis pushing him he should get up to speed quickly. Ward and Debell are much bigger and stronger and may give a little more depth. Ward is still a little tentative because of the injury but has huge potential. This line has a chance to surprise to the upside.

Game Changer

August 8th, 2012
7:22 am

J Jones is now coaching the o line for UGA? This article reeks of what is wrong in athens ga.

No Worries = the new drug policies are now effective making marijuana legal for UGA players on a daily basis:

th-UGA’S win another issue inside Butts Mehre —– BMIOF

JB

August 8th, 2012
7:24 am

Every NATIONAL story you read about the Dawgs chances this year are positive but the one big ” BUT”
and that’s a suspect line with little depth and once again not having a star battle tested running back.

JB

August 8th, 2012
7:26 am

Gators looking like Kil Roy from the back of the bus, and boy they don’t like it.

Jimmy Crack

August 8th, 2012
7:38 am

Love to hear what Jarvis is saying. Thankfully our young offensive line is currently going up against one of the best defensive fronts in the country. With enough practice competition against JJ & Co (and one easy game to open the season) these big young pups will be more than ready for the SEC opener.

CaliDawg

August 8th, 2012
7:56 am

“Live from…” You’re 100% right, and 100% wrong…respectively.

Tide Roll

August 8th, 2012
8:03 am

How does Richt allow your program to get in this position? True Freshman kicker and punter, A true Freshman (from a private school league) vying for a starting spot at Right Tackle. A 6′ 270 lb. redshirt Freshman (from a private school league) starting at center. A severely depleted roster (68 scholarship when the NCAA allows 85!) Suspensions out the whazoo. And all of it could have been avoided with a reasonable amount of foresight and a genuine commitment (especially on Richt’s behalf) to your program. It’s like he and Booboo literally take the off season off, and then show up the first day of practice to see what they’ve got. To make a physical analogy, they both show up “WAY OUT OF SHAPE” because they haven’t worked in the off season. Good luck with these two. They’ve set you up to make it 32 years (and beyond) without a National Title.

JB

August 8th, 2012
8:03 am

If Richt was doing his job, Theus would be redshirting.

JB

August 8th, 2012
8:06 am

Tide Roll, you would think YOU would be happy with the way Richt mishandles our roster and Program. Lord help you if the ever get the right guy in Athens. Imagine all the talent in this state staying home and being well coached?

Tide Roll

August 8th, 2012
8:11 am

Let me get this straight. Rather than tell a starter to “GET YOUR ASS OUT THERE ON SPECIAL TEAMS AND PRODUCE. ” Richt is like : “If your heart’s not in it, then we don’t want you out there.” As if there’s nothing he or his staff can do to change things. This guy is a true flake, you realize that don’t you? I’m sure he sits down with Kathryn and has a good laugh: ” Honey, can you believe these idiots haven’t fired me yet ??!! “

Tide Roll

August 8th, 2012
8:15 am

You’re right about that JB. There’s not another state in the Union that offers the quality of talent AND quantity of talent that Georgia does. Lack of in-state high school talent is not your problem.Your problem is you’ve got a lazy head coach.

JB

August 8th, 2012
8:24 am

Tide Roll…..Patience. Don’t know if you looked at the new contract McGarity gave Richt, but it was NOT a vote of confidence. In fact, I don’t know of many SEC or ACC coach’s who would of accepted it, which tells me, it was here it is, take or leave it. Now, both sides came out and said it’s done and they were happy, but dean of SEC coach’s, just won the SEC East…AND NO RAISE and the buyout was tilted to the University’s favor? McGarity ain’t sold…and neither is about 75% of the season ticket holders.

Tampa Gator

August 8th, 2012
8:31 am

SEC Fact Finder…
Muschamp announced just before the opening practices that practices would be closed to both the public and the media…..except for media day on the 18th. I cancelled my weekend trip to the Gainesville area as a result, including a day of bass fishing. Speaking of freshmen OL, DJ Humphries and Jassman Dunker have been impressive as well, and both ennrolled early. They will be providing depth to the Gators OL this year and will develop into outstanding linemen.

JB

August 8th, 2012
8:32 am

Richt after 11 years in Athens makes 42% of what Saban makes. And we ain’t broke.I lay it all at the feet of Dr. Adams ( who is gone by the way in a few months) who really has the REAL power to make a change. Mark is still the coach in Athens because he’s a quality guy, and he is. Dr. Adams was happy being competitive. McGarity does not have the power to fire Richt. It will be interesting to see who the new UGA President is. If it’s a liberal woman from the Northeast, nothing will change. She will love Mark. If it’s a man from the Southeast, we might see some changes.

JB

August 8th, 2012
8:34 am

Tampa Gator…I enjoy your post on here, but you are probably talking to yourself about Gator football on here….LOL

Tampa Gator

August 8th, 2012
8:37 am

“There’s not another state in the Union that offers the quality of talent AND quantity of talent that Georgia does.”

@Tide Roll….

I would say that the states of Florida, Texas, and California do that….and more.

Tide Roll's Mama

August 8th, 2012
8:37 am

My son acts like a fool on these boards