Notebook: Shorthanded Bulldogs enjoying fewer injuries than usual


ATHENS – Georgia on Monday complete its third of five straight full-pads, full-contact practices. Yet the injury report that the Bulldogs circulate at the end of every workout was shorter than it has been since the first week of camp.

The list included only five names. One of them was wide receiver Tavarres King, who was labeled as “limited” with a lower leg strain but appeared to run every drill and pass route at full speed without a noticeable problems. Another was starting center David Andrews with an illness from which he’s expected to make a quick return. Backup guard Hunter Long (broken foot) was the only player who will be sidelined multiple weeks. The other three were walkons.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, perhaps knocking on wood underneath the table at which he sat, acknowledged that the this year’s injured numbers have been “very low.” Asked for theories why, he proceeded to laundry-list them:

  • “We’ve been on grass the whole time, which I think helps,” he said of Georgia’s three Bermuda grass fields. The Bulldogs have had only very limited work on their two Field Turf fields.
  • “We were practicing in the morning instead of the afternoon during camp.”
  • “We really thought it was going to be hot in the afternoons the next three weeks and it’s really been pretty mild. I think that helps.”
  • “I think our guys had a great summer of conditioning, so I think they’ve been recovering faster.”
  • “I think we’ve added a lot of post-practice stretching, which I think has helped them.”
  • “And then sometimes you’re just fortunate.”

Whatever the case, with Georgia’s scholarship numbers as low as they are this season – 72 before seven walkons were granted aid last week – the Bulldogs have managed to tip-toe past trouble so far. It hasn’t been without an occasional scare.

Freshman tailback Keith Marshall was shaken up after a particularly hard hit against the scout team early in Monday’s practice. It happened during a portion of practice in which media was observing and Richt was annoyed by the subsequent reports via Twitter

“We’re going to reduce the amount of periods [media] is out there, by the way,” Richt said after the practice. “No big deal. We’ve been [allowing] 20 minutes instead of 15, but that’s five too many, I guess.”

Marshall, who was not listed on Monday’s report, returned later and finished the practice, according to teammates.

Merritt Hall holding strong

Based on reps during 7-on-7 work during practice Monday, former walkon Merritt Hall appears firmly entrenched as the No. 1 fullback. That jibes with what running backs coach Bryan McClendon said about the position over the weekend.

“Right now it’s pretty much status quo,” McClendon said. “Merritt’s still a solid No. 1 with Quayvon [Hicks] and Richard [Samuel] both rolling in there as well. You’ve got to play more than one of those guys as well with the amount of pounding that they do in games week in and week out. So you’ve got to make sure that those guys are ready and able to be functional when they’re in there.”

Conspicuously absent from the rotation during the preseason has been Zander Ogletree. The junior played in all 14 games last season with one start but has gotten little if any work with the first two units during camp.

“He’s been working in there,” McClendon said. “The thing is, some of those guys just came in and worked ahead of them a little bit.”

‘B-Smith’ most likely punt returner

McClendon, who coaches the punt return team, said he’s been giving a lot of the different players looks at the primary return position manned mainly by Brandon Boykin last season. Among them are sophomores Malcolm Mitchell and Damian Swann and true freshman defensive back Sheldon Dawson. But the odds are heavily in the favor of senior Branden Smith, who had nine of the Bulldogs’ 26 returns a year ago.

“Obviously Branden Smith is the most seasoned guy we have back there and he’s probably the most comfortable being back there,” McClendon said.

Smith has 19 punt returns in his career for an 11.3 average. That would have ranked him fifth in the SEC this past season.

Sheldon Dawson turning heads

Speaking of Sheldon Dawson, Richt was lauding the cornerback after practice and tabbed him as yet another true freshman who is going to play this fall.

“Sheldon has made a bunch of plays out there,” Richt said. “He’s already proved to me that physically he has the tools to play [cornerback]. He’s still learning and he’ll get better at what he does. But the bottom line is you have to have the physical ability to play that position and stick with the receivers and that type of thing and he has that. He plays the ball very well. And he’s got a history of having the ability to play offense, too, so a lot of times that equates into being a corner. And he’s got some toughness about him, too.”

Practice report

The Bulldogs practiced for two hours in full pads on Monday. It was their 19th practice out of what is expected to be 28 opportunities in the preseason. They’re now implementing the game plan for Buffalo in their Sept. 1 opener.

“It was another fundamentals practice,” Richt said. “I thought we got down most of what we needed to get down. [Tuesday] will be mostly on scout team work getting prepared for Buffalo and getting the scouts ready to give us a good look.”

The Bulldogs will hold a practice game on Wednesday at Sanford Stadium, then a situational scrimmage on Thursday. Their next day off won’t come until Sunday.

This & that

Richt said he will meet with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo this week to discuss how much Mitchell should be represented in the Buffalo gameplan. The sophomore cornerback, who had more than 600 yards receiving as a freshman last year, has worked exclusively on defense so far in camp. However, he has been working with receivers coach Tony Ball and catching passes from the quarterbacks after practices the last week or so. . . . ESPN reports that Kellogg’s has struck a deal with Georgia and four other schools to to make Pop Tarts with the schools’ logos on them. Georgia’s brand is called “Bulldog Berry.” Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan are the others. . . .

Buffalo, Georgia’s opponent in the opener, settled on a starting quarterback over the weekend. Alex Zordich, a 6-foot-3, 222-pound junior, got the nod over Joe Licata, a 6-2, 217-pound redshirt freshman Zordich, the son of former Penn State star and NFL player Mike Zordich, started as a true freshman before an injury sidelined him for the season. He’s considering a run-pass, dual-threat quarterback.


54 comments Add your comment

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 20th, 2012
9:08 pm

HAHA not hitting works


August 20th, 2012
9:08 pm

This is a big year for CMR and the Dawgs. Hope they are up to the task! 12 more days!


August 20th, 2012
9:21 pm

Knock on wood.



August 20th, 2012
9:30 pm

It’s hard to believe it’s almost here! I just hope the injuries stay away and give the team time to gel for the season! Can’t afford to get thin particularly on the OL. I believe it’s going to be an exciting season with a bunch of hungry DAWGS getting it on! GOOD LUCK, DAWGS!!!! Let’s go get a championship!! It’s yours and you deserve it!!

Pulaski Dawg

August 20th, 2012
9:31 pm

As I read of the unfortunate actions of Ala. Assistant coaches attempting to get kids in Pensacola to transfer to Ala. High Schools to insure Academic elgibility, it reinforces the blessing of having your kid play for a coach like Mark Richt. Everybody wants a National Championship but not at the expense of a kids education and success in life if football dosen’t work out.

Nc dawg

August 20th, 2012
9:48 pm

Thanks for the jinx. Someone will get injured tomorrow.


August 20th, 2012
10:08 pm

I feel sorry for Buffalo’s starting QB Alex Zordich. I really do. Also, sounds like Merritt Hall is busting heads out there in practice. To be able to beat out guys like Hicks and Samuel who are a lot bigger than he is, he must be really awesome.

How about we give Sheldon Dawson some time at corner? Depth is the key to winnng championships. Let’s build that depth starting game 1.

UGA Insider

August 20th, 2012
10:20 pm

I can’t wait to see Merritt Hall charge through the line and pop some Mizzou linebackers in week 2. And every other team we face. Their linebackers or whoever is in he box better strap it up tight because Merritt LOVES contact.


August 20th, 2012
10:23 pm

The game plan for Buffalo? Can I give it to you?

Mountain Dawg

August 20th, 2012
10:32 pm

What’s this I see? Why, it’s an injury report without Ray Drew’s name on it. What happened? I guess his scooter’s in the shop.


August 20th, 2012
10:44 pm

How about a Georgia “Berry” Pop-Tart? (Dingle-Berries opitional, lol!) …


August 20th, 2012
10:52 pm

@Twinkie Eater — How is “Juggs” Johnson doing with his elite squad? Any chance you will be able to keep it close this November? Winning once every 10 years makes for a lame match-up, I think this is the make or break year for Tech. Win this year or risk getting replaced by Ga State, they can lose 9 out of 10 just as easy as the Maggots.


August 20th, 2012
11:01 pm

GO DAWGS!!! Great news……Cant wait for kick off to see what these guys have got under the hood!!


August 20th, 2012
11:10 pm

That must be really disapointing not to have injuries to report on…but you can always go back and remind everyone about the suspensions.


August 20th, 2012
11:42 pm

“As a defensive player, a defensive guy, you’ve got to walk with a chip,” Jenkins said. “You’ve got to walk with that angry mindset.”

Jenkins appears to certainly have that.

“I’ve got to be because this is my last season. The things, the impact that this could have on my future … when I lining up against the men in front of me, if he beats me, he takes – you know, things that I need for my future. He takes food off the table for my family,” Jenkins said. “That’s how I think when I’m out there at practice – I can’t be blocked, I won’t be blocked, you know? That’s the kind of mindset that I have. I’m not going to let people take food from me.”


I’m loving John Jenkins mindset.


August 21st, 2012
1:08 am

Love that quote from Big John. Hopefully it all clicks this year. If not, it’s still fun anyway…


August 21st, 2012
3:13 am

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER write another story like this. Are you stupid? Never tempt fate!


August 21st, 2012
5:56 am

“Georgia coach Mark Richt, perhaps knocking on wood underneath the table at which he sat”

Common, let’s not assume he was gratifying himself.

Jimmy Crack

August 21st, 2012
7:25 am

Hopefully Mitchell will play the entire Buffalo game at DB. It will give him as much live-game experience as possible before the Missouri game. Malcolm can be inserted back into the offense during the Missouri game (if needed) but his main responsibility is to shore up the defensive secondary for a couple of weeks.

Game Changer

August 21st, 2012
7:27 am

Touch football or flag football — take your pick

Game Changer

August 21st, 2012
7:31 am

No comments on the offense and Murray huh. Word is that Murray is not performing to well this fall practice. I will now wait on your pump em up about our richt favorite player report out of the sports information department, either telling falsehoods about Murray or hiding the problem behind tailback talk ahd hopes.

reality check

August 21st, 2012
7:50 am

Chip, you will be held accountable for any near term injuries.

I worry about Missouri. Maybe our defense has improved to the point that a run/pass QB no longer gives us fits, but historically they have. Georgia is not a good 4th quarter team and Missouri is perhaps the best 4th quarter offense in college football. A 2 touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter would be shaky at best.

On paper our defense is better than theirs, but pre season happy talk can be trumped by 4th quarter performance.


August 21st, 2012
8:07 am

hey chip . thanks for the jinx.would have been better suited to write this story next week if still applies….again not smart at all.

Tampa Gator is paranoid

August 21st, 2012
8:27 am

Has anyone seen Tampa Gator’s imposter today?

[...] Good news for Bulldogs: Fewer injuries this year [...]


August 21st, 2012
8:32 am

Sheldon Dawson was one of four recruits who were #1 in their state. I’m glad to see he could contribute right away.

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
8:40 am

Football practices are getting like Nazi Germany or Communist China……..Control the Media and you can control the people.
I hate that people and media can’t see more practices until the work on game planning starts. Some plays every team runs or opponents already know about so it is not that big of a deal if people see it. If you run the play better than the other team defends it you will still have a positive play.

Columbus Dawg

August 21st, 2012
8:44 am

So, Game Changer, is this WORD on Murray’s sub-par fall camp performance coming from the same trust worthy source that your John Jenkins theory came from? Most on these blogs just think you are an idiot, some just think it’s sad.


August 21st, 2012
8:45 am

game changer, you don’t know crap about anything regarding UGA football other than you hate everything about it

Just shut your piehole

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
8:49 am

Hehe from the Fan contacting UGa recruit blog……

August 21st, 2012
8:42 am

You guys have it all wrong…it was Columbus Dawg..that guy is one of your most rabid supporters..and has mental issues…

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
8:51 am

The numbers show that Hutson Mason against the #1 D is better than 35:55minute Murray against the #2 D.


August 21st, 2012
8:53 am

Only an idiot pays attention to stats from a set of scrimmages closed to the public and media and continually bashes the coaches who see the kids play every day in practice.

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
8:55 am

OK you DAWGS Deals are being made. Great family and cute Bulldog puppies. Check the site and get you your own Uga.
Location Riverstone Trail, Monroe, Georgia 30655
Phone 1 (404) 569-9235

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
8:58 am


August 21st, 2012
9:08 am

Well… less players = less injuries lol. Seriously, I’m knocking on some major wood and I’m very greatful. A couple of injuries in some key spots could get us into trouble. Which is why no matter how our team starts, I’m going to temper my excitment throughout the season until it’s all said and done. Oh praise ye wonderful football gods!

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
9:10 am

DiLex that maybe true but it has been a recurring theme with Murray not being the best in Camp but Winning the job. Mettenburger & Mason have been reported to do better than Murray but Murray always wins the JOB but not the Big Games. Yes, you have to trust the coaches, but it is weird that it has happened a few times over the years with Murray.


August 21st, 2012
9:18 am

I’ve seen some people, that know some things about the game of football, comment that Sheldon Dawson was their favorite recruit from last years class. And this was way before he started poping up on the UGA news articles.


August 21st, 2012
9:19 am


Give it a rest.

Murray is the 9th best rated QB IN THE COUNTRY. He has won games and has made some mistakes. He is human. He is a lot better than Hutson freaking Mason.

I saw where the jackets had “an unacceptable practice”. I saw where Murray went to visit friends in Atlanta with Malcolm Mitchell. I figured Johnson let the two of them go against his #1 defense and that resulted in the “unacceptable” since he has already lit them up 2 years running. Al Groh 1 step closer to the nursing home.


August 21st, 2012
9:20 am

I don’t get the secrecy of the practices either.

It’s not like we will have something new in the playbook . . .

Aaron Murray

August 21st, 2012
9:24 am

Murray has had the usual growing pains of any quarterback who starts as a freshman and sophomore. Dog fans can look forward to an improved Aaron Murray.

Let’s see what Archie Manning had to say recently: “Throws the ball really well; good techniques; can tell he has been well coached. Great football intelligence.”

Archie knows a little something about quarterbacks. Saban, Miles, Spurrier and other coaches that selected Murray as one of two best in SEC also have weighed in.

Counterbalancing that are Game Changer and other posters on here. Who to believe? Who to believe?

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
9:28 am

DiLex…………it is Murray’s Job but it is ODD that he has seemingly never had a winning Spring/Fall camp but gets the job. He is rated high yes but he has not made many of his bones in the big games and you have to admit that. I just think the Back-ups should have played more against the weak teams UGa has faced to get the backups more LIVE 1st Team against 1st team game experience.

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
9:57 am

Be honest………..The Kid is good but do any dawg fans think Murray is 1/2 the QB Stafford was or 1/2 the QB Greene was or 1/2 the QB Zeier was?

Since practices are closed

August 21st, 2012
10:00 am

how can you make the assumption that Murray has seemingly never had a winning Spring/Fall camp, but gets the job?

Surely you are not saying that coaches with millions of dollars and their jobs on the line, are going to play Murray when someone better is available.

Not buying what you are selling.

Twinkies question

August 21st, 2012
10:05 am

I don’t know if we will see a QB in Athens with Stafford’s physical skills in my lifetime (on the downside 60s).

Zeier had the best freshman year of any UGA QB I can recall, and a true freshman at that. I think Murray will have a better career.

Greene was a winner, no doubt about it, but I believe Murray will be considered better when he leaves UGA (won’t have as many wins obviously). Two years from now we will have a better grip on things.

Destin Dawg

August 21st, 2012
10:08 am

fewer injuries this year knock on wood.. is a result of our improved S & C and Jen Ketterly’s home cookin’ buffet at Butts Mehre… it will show up in 4 th qtr. performance… we we’re obviously out of Shape last year !!!

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 21st, 2012
10:12 am

Twinkies question…………..IF UGa makes the SEC CG and can win a Big Bowl Murray will not be back for his senior year. He has already graduates so IF the Money is there he will not comeback.


August 21st, 2012
10:13 am


Richt never said Mett or Mason had better springs than Murray. You and a bunch of other people on these blogs, who never saw the first practice and judged it based off a spring game did.

All the experts on the blogs said it.

Richt never did.

Plus Mett got kicked off right after spring practice so he could never have played for us anyway.


August 21st, 2012
10:17 am

It sure helped David Greene to not have to score much thanks to our defense. Our offensive production was down compared to now but our defense stats were very good. 2004 team still holds the record for fewest points allowed in a 12 game season.

Zeier did not start until the Ole Miss game of his freshman year. He had no help from the defense. Less than Willie Martinez

[...] Good news for Bulldogs: Fewer injuries this year [...]


August 21st, 2012
12:26 pm

anyone know if the buffalo game will be televised on regional coverage or other network? doesn’t show any coverage on gameplan site yet.