Notebook: Richt at peace with kicking game after latest display

ATHENS – Lost in what was another eye-catching performance by tailback Todd Gurley in Wednesday’s scrimmage was a much-improved outing by place-kicker Marshall Morgan.

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. ”

TOMORROW MORNING

  • Read about the progress of Georgia’s tailback competition

MORE ON GEORGIA FOOTBALL

36 comments Add your comment

Gumps

August 16th, 2012
6:54 pm

j

August 16th, 2012
6:55 pm

Enter your comments here

Johnny B Bad

August 16th, 2012
7:00 pm

Special Teams scares me the most about this team. I hope that these kids perform like they should.

jack bull

August 16th, 2012
7:16 pm

something tells me we lose a game on a missed fg at the end of a game this year. and maybe a qb fumble…

so, with that, we’ll go 10-2.

Frank Lane

August 16th, 2012
7:25 pm

Looking forward to having a great kicking game.

Grantham's The Man!

August 16th, 2012
7:31 pm

I really like how this team is coming together. Sounds like Barber’s about ready, and Marshall’s rounding into shape.

You guys keep GATA ,and stay healthy. Looking forward to a great season. Go Dawgs!!!

William

August 16th, 2012
9:28 pm

I think 10-2 is possible. Gonna lose to two of the big six. Can’t be perfect, I’m sorry. Wished we could go undefeated, but that would be hard to do. No, the Coach is not on the hotseat if they lose two. I expect it. No national championship unless there is a lot of luck and good ball playing. Go Dogs, GATA.

Carew Rowell

August 16th, 2012
9:42 pm

I think Tennessee is the sleeper. You can’t keep those guys down long.

The SEC East might be tougher than people realize.

otn dawg

August 16th, 2012
9:55 pm

Not really worried bout Big Orange. I live in middle TN and James Franklin is getting Vandy on the right track so that’s gonna be a good one again this year. Go Dawgs GATA!!!!

Fss

August 16th, 2012
10:57 pm

I wonder where we’ll be in 2 months…in years past by october we’re all blasting special teams (especially kick off coverage) and the offensive line. I hope this year will be different…

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

August 16th, 2012
11:31 pm

UGA will run a table this year. Just look at the sked….

Your Girlfriend

August 17th, 2012
12:00 am

Lots of pressure on Georgia to win the East this year.

Lots of pressure…

dawgcrzy

August 17th, 2012
6:06 am

sounds like Bobo is coddling Murray a little bit,the interception wasn’t his fault,the fumble wasn’t his fault. It is what it is.

Destin Dawg

August 17th, 2012
6:43 am

Hey the schedule is tough enough… we play Missouri, S.C., Auburn and Fla. on the road…. if ( when ) Murray fumbles / gets intercepted.. PLAY HUTSON MASON !!!!

happyhour9

August 17th, 2012
8:45 am

@ destin dawg :If murray fumbles / gets intercepted? its going to happen no matter who the quarter back is. Hutson mason is unproven and also will also be redshirted this year. Murray had 35 TDs last year and there is no reason to believe that he cant be better this year especially with the schedule. MY advice…sit watch murray do his thing and Mason be on the sideline while lemay is the back up this year.

BMOC

August 17th, 2012
8:50 am

Frick-en BOBO making excuses for Murray makes me sick.. Murray ALWAYS fumbles & throws pics.. He has TERRIBLE ball security!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gbal

August 17th, 2012
9:24 am

MASON WONT HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE NEXT YEAR EITHER>>>

G-Dawg

August 17th, 2012
9:24 am

Well, for the record…Bobo wasnt calling plays in the second half of the SECCG vs LSU and bowl game against Mich St. It was Richt calling the shots, and overriding Bobo’s calls.

fan

August 17th, 2012
9:51 am

The east will be quite tough this year. The “experts” just go to past articles written and repeat them. Fla. tough D and better O. Tn healthy and pissed. Vandy hiding in the weeds. SC very tough. Mo, unknown but up for the dogs.

JB

August 17th, 2012
10:01 am

I didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, but LeMay has been in Athens a good while….and is pushing no one. I would like for Richt to be saying ” gonna be hard to keep him off the field”. Not hearing anything.

Rusty

August 17th, 2012
10:09 am

UGA may or may not win the east but one thing will happen for sure. UGA beats Vandy by a bare minimum of 17 points. Between what happened last year and that yuppy Franklin running his mouth… You can take that to the bank.

FaithfulDawg86

August 17th, 2012
10:46 am

Despite some uncharacteristic misses last year, our kicking game is traditionally strong, and I don’t see that changing. As for ball security…. that is always a big concern. I remember a certain DGD who got pretty bad fumblitis his sophomore year, and the running joke was that Dooley made him carry a football around 24/7 to classes, meals, sleep, shower… What was that guy’s name? Oh yeah, Herschel! Maybe Bobo needs to take a page out of Vince’s book and have Murray “adopt a football.”

RiffRaff

August 17th, 2012
10:57 am

Do not see UGA losing at home this season. But there are some tough road games – Missouri ( Dawgs always start out slow for some reason ), South Carolina ( anything can happen in this one ), Florida ( it’s Florida ), and even the Auburn game.

Joey

August 17th, 2012
11:09 am

1) “He had to run up in the pocket and the defense made a great play”

2) “the one interception was really not his fault”

3) “he said, ‘well, OK, I’m sacked’ and just kind of sat there and somebody ran in and knocked the ball out.”
*************************************************************
Maybe I was quick with my bragging of Bobo being “a great QB coach.” I’ve never read such crap, in a coach trying to make excuses for his QB.

So, Murray was “outstanding” despite the turnovers? One TD vs 2 turnovers is “outstanding?” So I guess after last season’s SC and LSU losses, that Murray basically gave away with turnovers-for-TDs, he got a trophy? New stickers on his helmet?

I wish Chip had asked a follow-up question for those statements.

1) So, Coach Bobo, UGA doesn’t teach its QBs to take the sack or throw the ball away to avoid a INT?

2) Murray threw the INT, Coach Bobo, so exactly whose fault was it?

3) So Coach Bobo, when he QB is about to get sacked, he isn’t taught to protect the ball?

Does Murray ever get scolded? Lord knows he never gets a seat on the bench when he’s scoring points for the opponent.

Damn, I’ve seen Spurrier sit All-American and Heisman QBs on the bench after foolish turnovers.

Richt/Bobo tell their QB he played “outstanding.”

Get ready, fellow Dawg fans, for more of seeing Murray with 2 hands on his helmet this season while watching an opponent’s backside heading for the endzone.

McDawg

August 17th, 2012
12:03 pm

like to hear it about X. Ward

AirForce1

August 17th, 2012
1:06 pm

@ Joey. you have so many valid points. I’m a huge Dawg fan…been for a long time. But as a starter with CMR and Bobo…especially as a QB, you will not hear any criticism for this QB at all. Once your a starter at UGA…it is hard to get you out, unless its a felony gun charge of course. Murray is a good QB and yes he does make huge mistakes in the biggest of games. However, do his coaches call the best plays or put thier QB in positons to win and win big? NO. They “play not to lose” whatever that means. Instead of laying it to opponents UGA lets them hang around just long enough to almost upset the Dawgs. It all gets put on the defense. Very frustrating the last few years. All this talent….no championships in a while?

AirForce1

August 17th, 2012
1:13 pm

Have you ever seen such a mass of talent year after year to finish with mediocre seasons? I do apologize but does that make any sense at all? Great coaches bring out the best in thier player, weather the player is a super star or not. What gives?

Joey

August 17th, 2012
2:24 pm

AirForce1, playcalling and O-line play surely have affected Murray’s play. And, I think the “play not to lose,’ especially the last 2 seasons, seems to be worse than ever.

I think it was so extreme last season for 2 reasons: 1) Richt had confidence in Grantham stopping opponents, so he trusted a 10 point lead; 2) and he and Bobo do not trust Murray to protect the ball when we have the lead, so they back off, and go vanilla. Auburn was another matter, with I think Richt havin a grudge about the dirty play from ‘10.

I’ve said for several years, that Richt loses a game or two every year, even with his most talented teams, that keep UGA from getting in the Big Game. Name the year, and I’ll name one or more times we lost to an underdog.

And here’s my best discussion ender: when did Richt’s Dawgs last win a game vs a favored opponent?

I think Richt is a smart man – he just allows his assistants to underperform. How does a team with smaller, slower players beat a team of faster, better players (Boise / UGA)?

Coaching.

RTR22

August 17th, 2012
2:35 pm

Murray is a td/to machine. AJ is a leader/winner. Good luck with yours, and I am very happy with ours. Roll Tide, 22 SEC TITLES……..

Joey

August 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

The problem, RTR22, was turnovers-for-points. Unbelievable volume of pick-sixes and fumbles for TDs.

I believe one thing – Saban would ignore the TD passes if his QB was giving games away. He would have Murray on the bench if he couldn’t learn to take a sack and/or throw the ball out of bounds.

[...] Notebook: Richt more at peace with kicking game after latest outing [...]

UGA89

August 17th, 2012
11:13 pm

I saw Blair Walsh tonight kicking for the Minnesota Vikings in their preseason game. He looked like the old Blair from season 1, 2, and 3. I am VERY nervous about our kicker M. Morgan. If he’s not consistent now what’s he going to do in front of 93,000?

HOUDAWG

August 17th, 2012
11:59 pm

C. Rowell …… been thinking the same. TN game could truly be that ” trap ” game. Hope it’s not ….. kinda depends on how we’ve performed to date & our attitude going in ……

Pj

August 18th, 2012
1:46 am

I have friends on the strength staff and they told me a few things worth mentioning.
1. The coaches love barber, our punter, and see little fall off from butler but are concerned about Morgan (place kicker)
2. Chris Conley is the best WR we have, but king and brown will get seniority preference.
3. Cornelius Washington is tearing it up in the DE spot and coaches think he will be our sack leader
4. Rambo may not miss 4 games after all, they’re waiting on some “things” – that’s all I got out if my guy
5. Coaches have been vocal about 2 opponents particularly according to my source. Vandy and south Carolina. The staff wants to drill franklin and spurrier.

14 more days! Go Dawgs!!!

[...] Notebook: Richt more at peace with kicking game after latest outing [...]

[...] Notebook: Richt more at peace with kicking game after latest outing [...]