ATHENS — Much is expected of Jarvis Jones this season, and deservedly so. He was, after all, the SEC’s sack leader and a consensus All-American.
But duplicating his tremendous production — 70 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 49 QB pressures — won’t be easy this year. That’s why Jones has been working overtime in the film room with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
“He’s got to understand that there are a lot of good coaches in this league, and they’re going to say, ‘All right, we’re not going to let this guy wreck the game,’” Grantham said after the Bulldogs’ morning practice on Saturday. “They’re going to try to find ways to take him away. You’ve got to have answers for that.”
Grantham said Jones has unique athletic gifts and intelligence that allowed him to record the second-most productive season for a pass rusher in school history. But that won’t be enough in year two as a starter. Jones will have to become more sophisticated as a defender and the Bulldogs will have to use more ingenuity to put him in position to succeed.
“From a development standpoint, he’s only played the position for one year,” Grantham said. “So the more he understands formations, where people are, how he can play things, will allow him to make even more plays. . . . And then he needs to just work on his overall technique.”
Searching for The Great 8
Georgia’s top six players on the offensive line has been well established at this point. Kenarious Gates, Dallas Lee, David Andrews, Chris Burnette and John Theus are the starting five with Watts Dantzler as the chief fill-in at guard and tackle.
But the Bulldogs have said they’re looking for “seven or eight” they can take into the season and depend on. Line coach Will Friend was asked Saturday who the best candidates were for those last two spots.
“It would probably be trying to get Mark Beard totally ready; he’s not there yet. We’re trying to get Austin Long ready; he’s not there yet,” Friend said. “I think those two can be those guys by the time we get to the season. We’ve got to get them and those other guys to fall in and be counted on.”
Friend said sophomore Hunter Long, who was backing up both the center and right guard positions, was emerging as a contributor before he broke his foot in Friday’s workout.
Meanwhile, Friend said not pencil in Theus as the starting right tackle just yet. “We haven’t named him a starter yet or anything like that,” Friend said. “He and Watts are getting equal reps with the 1s. But John still has a long way to go. That’s not over yet.”
Bobo on RBs
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo likes what he has seen from freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. But he wasn’t ready to say they’ll unseat lettermen Ken Malcome and Richard Samuel.
“I like the attitudes of the two freshmen,” Bobo said Saturday. “I like their attitude and their commitment to doing things right. They’ve really done a nice job of taking Coach McClendon’s coaching and improving every day. There’s a lot of mistakes being made out there, but I’ve seen improvement and guys learning from their mistakes. So I’m excited about that.”
Watermelon Day’ for Dogs
Saturday was “Watermelon Day” for the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. It’s a tradition that dates back to the Vince Dooley in which the team celebrates the end of “camp” by sharing watermelon after the morning practice on the last day of two-a-days.
Of course, the significance has dwindled considerably in recent years as Georgia is limited by NCAA rule to just two twice-a-day practice sessions during the preseason. But the Bulldogs have practiced 12 times in nine days and will get their first day off Sunday since the first practice on Aug. 2. Also, classes begin on Monday, so Georgia will shift into its regular afternoon-practice routine.
This & that . . .
All three of Georgia’s projected starters at cornerback were wearing green, non-contact jerseys during Saturday’s evening practice, though each seemed to be fully participating in all the drill work. The newest addition is converted receiver Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder contusion), who joined Branden Smith (shoulder) and Damian Swann (neck) on the injured list. UGA has not yet released details of Mitchell’s injury. . . . Despite its rapidly-growing popularity, head coach Mark Richt shaved off his goatee before Saturday’s practices. It lasted nine days.
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