The freshman from Ft. Lauderdale, the heir apparent to fellow South Florida native Blair Walsh, apparently looked a lot better than he did in the first scrimmage, when his work solicited a lukewarm reaction from coach Mark Richt.
Richt was much more complimentary after Morgan made his only live attempt in the scrimmage from 42 yards and made 6-of-8 field goals during drill work, including a 52-yarder.
“[Wednesday] gave me a better peace about where they are,” Richt said, referring both to Morgan and freshman punter Collin Barber. “I’m not going to name them starters yet, but it was impressive. The punts were impressive, and once we got into the drill work with Marshall, he was 100 percent and looked really good doing it.”
Richt said Marshall made all eight of his extra-point attempts during drill work and all during the 90-minute scrimmage. He missed “a short-range one which he shouldn’t have missed” and a long one of “40-something” yards during drills. Morgan made the 52-yarder at the end of the practice to send the team off the field in celebration.
“So that was good,” Richt said. “Very clean, everything looked good there.”
Barber had two punts for an average of 49.5 yards during the scrimmage. Richt has been praising the freshman for his “high, booming” punts since the first practice on Aug. 2.
Barber (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and Morgan (6-3, 201) are considered the most likely replacements for All-America punter Drew Butler and Walsh, both of whom will play in the NFL this season. Barber is competing with walkons Adam Erickson and Ethan Jackson, while Morgan competing with Erickson and freshman walkon Patrick Beless.
Bobo: Murray not so bad
After reviewing video of Wednesday’s scrimmage, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo came away thinking junior Aaron Murray actually played pretty well. Richt was critical of Murray and the other quarterbacks for a general lack of ball security, which resulted in signal-callers committing seven of the eight turnovers during the scrimmage, including four fumbles.
“The one interception he had was a protection blow down,” ,” Bobo said Thursday. “He had to run up in the pocket and the defense made a great play. I think he was 9-for-13 for 69 percent and the one interception was really not his fault. So I thought he had an outstanding scrimmage.”
As for the fumble Murray had, Bobo said: “We’ve got to protect the ball at all time, but that was more of a situation where he said, ‘well, OK, I’m sacked’ and just kind of sat there and somebody ran in and knocked the ball out. There were a couple of times where we were running and we fumbled the ball. Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay each had one of those and we’ve got to take better care of the ball than that. They had plenty of running today for ball security, but I’ve been pleased with that [in camp] and we’ve got to keep preaching good habits.”
Corey Moore turning heads
It was sophomore Corey Moore who snagged the interception from Murray on what coaches and players described as a sensational diving play on Wednesday. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and secondary coach Scott Lakatos both lauded Moore for the way he has “come on” the last week in camp.
Said Grantham: “He’s always been a physical player in the run game, but he’s a guy who’s kind of gotten it and is working hard in coverage, too. If you’re a safety and you can do both, that figures in how you play guys.”
Moore, a 4-star prospect and former all-state player out of Griffin, is battling with Connor Norman and Marc Deas for playing time behind starting safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams. Both the starters are seniors.
Ward impressing on O-line
Georgia has pretty much settled on its top six offensive linemen. But the Bulldogs are looking for “seven or eight” linemen they can count on to work into the rotation throughout the season.
Sophomore Mark Beard and junior Austin Long have been generally considered the favorites to fill those roles. But redshirt freshman Xzavier Ward is starting to give them a run for their money.
“Xzavier Ward has really been a pleasant surprise,” Bobo said Thursday. “He’s coming off knee surgery so we really didn’t know how much we’d be getting from him. He’s still hobbling a little bit. But he has shown a lot of toughness and an ability to widen the pocket because he’s got real long arms. We’ve been pleased with him.”
LeMay still needs to improve
Bobo somewhat clarified the backup quarterback situation as it stands with Hutson Mason’s desire to redshirt if at all possible. He said, Mason No. 2 if an injury happens [to Murray]. If it’s finish-the-game, you know, right now it’d be [Christian] LeMay or Parker Welch.”
That it’s not clearly LeMay’s job alone means the redshirt freshman still has some work to do. “LeMay has definitely improved since last season,” Bobo said, “but he’s still got a lot to improve on. ”
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