MORNING PRACTICE UPDATE
Updated with comments from coach Mark Richt . . .
ATHENS – Todd Gurley’s standout performance in yesterday’s scrimmage did not appear to alter the pecking order in Georgia’s offensive backfield.
Take it for what it’s worth, but Gurley was still running as third-team tailback when the Bulldogs went through drills early in Thursday’s practice. Gurley, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound freshman from Tarboro, N.C., was Georgia’s leading rusher in the first scrimmage of the preseason on Wednesday. He had 58 yards on six carries and scored on a 40-yard run.
When the running backs were doing drill work with coach Bryan McClendon Thursday morning, the rotation stacked up like this:
Again, it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. It’s pretty clear that all six of those players — plus Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis, too — are probably going to see action for the Bulldogs this season.
“They’re really rolling like they’re all co-No. 1s,” coach Mark Richt said. “It’s not like the Nos. 3 & 4 on the depth chart only get reps wit h the second team. WE’ve been repping everybody. The top couple of guys haven’t gone with the 2s.”
Malcome had 32 yards on five carries in Wednesday’s scrimmage, Harton seven for 25, Karempelis four for 15 and Marshall seven for 11. Coach Mark Richt downplayed statistics from the scrimmage based on the varying circumstances and lineups.
Murray on ESPN with Pollack
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and former Bulldog All-American linebacker David Pollack on Wednesday taped an edition of ESPN’s “Inside the Program” on campus. The segment is set to air duringon Thursday’s Sports Center.
Pollack and Murray discussed the ins and outs of the quarterback position, with Murray demonstrating skills including throwing the fade. Inside the Program is airing all this week on ESPN.
Pollack will serve as an analyst for ESPN’s Thursday Night Football in 2012 and will return as a host on ESPN’s College Gameday.
Cornerback Branden Smith was in a green, non-contact jersey due to a shoulder contusion but was participating. Another new addition to the injury report was tailback Brandon Harton, who sat out with a hip contusion. . . . Fellow DB Damian Swann (neck) also remains in green. . . . Players who remain sidelined include DE Ray Drew (concussion), safety Marc Deas (hamstring), outside linebacker Dester Morant (shoulder) and tight end Hugh Williams (hand).
Richt’s “shout out” for Branden Smith
Richt opened his post-practice remarks Thursday by saying he wanted to give a “shout-out to Branden Smith.” He said the senior cornerback has stood out throughout preseason camp and going back to last spring really.
“He has been making plays every day. He’s playing with a lot of intensity every rep,. He l;ooks like a senior trying to lead out there. He doesn’t say much. He just plays hard and makes plays. Ive been really happy with what he’s been doing. He’s stood out. It just seems like something good has been happening with his play.”
Richt was asked if he thought Smith’s exemplary play could be connected to his recent announcement that Smith would not miss playing time despite his March arrest for marijuana possession. Smith accepted pretrial intervention in that case and passed UGA and court-ordered drug tests, so Richt wave the 10 percent competition suspension usually employed for marijuana-use violations.
“He’s known for a little while that he was going to play,” Richt said. “But I think to have it come out in the public probably was a boost for him and his family. But, you know, he had a great spring, too. He’s just practicing really hard. And he had his best summer by far from what the boys were commenting on. His stamina has been better throughout practice, and hopefully it will be throughout the season as well.”
O-line shows improvement
Asked for any insights he was able to make after reviewing video of Wednesday’s scrimmage, Richt said he liked what he saw from the offensive line.
“The No. 1 unit played very well I thought,” he said. “The No. 2 unit had some moments where they put it all together. . . . I saw guys individually getting better. So I think that group’s coming along.”
Some other observations from Richt:
On punt and kickoff return . . .
“The problem with kick return and punt return is we really haven’t gone live where you could say this guy is doing better than that guy or whatever. They’re catching punts in prepractive warmups and drillwork. The closer we get to the game we’ll have more opportunities to put them under a little pressure. Right now we haven’t gotten that far yet.
On place-kicking . . .
“Right now I would say that Marshall Morgan is our extra point and field goal guy. That’s what I’d say.”