Notebook: Merritt Hall No. 1 at fullback but not assured of start

If Georgia opens in an I-formation on Saturday, redshirt freshman fullback Merritt Hall will start his first college football game leading the way for tailback Ken Malcome. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

If Georgia opens in an I-formation on Saturday, redshirt freshman fullback Merritt Hall will start his first college football game leading the way for tailback Ken Malcome. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Athens – Merritt Hall was listed as the No. 1 fullback on the depth chart released Tuesday for Georgia’s opener Saturday against Buffalo. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be the starter.

The Bulldogs utilize multiple position groups on offense, meaning they could just as easily start the game with four wideouts or three receivers and a single back as a fullback and a tailback. Ultimately, what formation they open up in will be determined by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Hall is  rooting for a straight I-formation. That would, of course, give him his first collegiate start.

“Coach Bobo knows a lot more than me about running an offense, so I’ll trust him to do that,” said Hall, a redshirt freshman from Alpharetta. “[But starting would] be a big deal to me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to start for a Division I program. I’m blessed with an opportunity to do that and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m anxious to get this thing going.”

Hall has already accomplished a lot. He walked on at Georgia out of The Wesleyan School in 2011 and, after rising to No. 1 at fullback in spring practice, earned a scholarship in preseason camp. So just the fact he is guaranteed playing time his second year is impressive. That he held off senior Richard Samuel, freshman Quayvon Hicks and junior Zander Ogletree to stay atop the depth chart is a feat that has drawn praise from everyone on the team.

“I’m happy for him and I’m happy for Georgia,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “Sometimes you look at a depth chart at a position and wonder how we are going to do. For him to come out of the blue and play the way he did in the spring and the fall and solidify the job and create competition, it’s good for us, good for Georgia and good for him.”

No comes the fun part. He gets to actually play in a game.

“I’m sure the pregame jitters will be here pretty soon,” Hall said. “I haven’t played on a stage this big, so I know it’s going to be something different. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Nine first-time starters

According to the depth chart, Hall will be one of nine first-time starters for Georgia on Saturday. That’s assuming free safety Bacarri Rambo will be unable to play. In that case either Connor Norman or Corey Moore, both sophomores, will be getting their first career start.

Also expected to get their first nods with the first team Saturday are sophomore center David Andrews, freshman right tackle John Theus, junior tight end Arthur Lynch, sophomore outside linebacker Ramik Wilson, freshman punter Collin Barber and freshman place-kicker Marshall Morgan.

Many freshman to play

Eleven true freshmen were listed on Georgia’s three-deep depth chart, though not all the positions went three deep. Among the recent high school graduates expected to play Saturday are tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, fullback Quayvon Hicks, tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, outside linebackers Josh Dawson and Jordan Jenkins, cornerback Sheldon Dawson and strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Georgia had only 17 players enroll with the recruiting class of 2012. Including junior college transfer Mark Beard, who is listed as the backup at left tackle, that means at least 71 percent of that will play in the opening game.

“You hope when you sign them they are going to come in and help you,” Richt said. “Then you start practicing and see these kids need to play. They need to help us on special teams and get as much experience as possible this year because we are pretty senior-heavy on defense right now. It’s good to get those guys as much work as possible.”

Big John eager to ‘show off’

Senior nose guard John Jenkins said he’s teeming with anticipation to play Saturday’s game and it wouldn’t matter if the opponent was Buffalo or ‘Bama. Jenkins said because he and the Bulldogs have worked so hard since last season they’re eager to “show off” how good they can be.

“It’s like if you’re a mechanic and you’ve been working on a car or a hot rod or something,” Jenkins said. “You just can’t wait to take it to the race track and show it off because you’re proud of it. That’s your car. That’s how I feel about my abilities in myself and that’s how I feel about this defense. We’ve been working so hard and we feel like we’ve got something special. So we want to show it off.

That could be bad news for Buffalo, which is 0-3 against SEC teams and a 37-point underdog Saturday.

“My mentality going into this game is that they’re trying to prevent me from doing something that I was born to do,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound senior. “I feel like they’re trying to keep me from feeding my family. I don’t really think less of Buffalo, but I think of them as the enemy. They’re going into the game thinking they’re going to run over us and they really can’t. We don’t take anybody for granted.”

No special plan for LeMay

Hutson Mason was listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Aaron Murray on Tuesday, but it’s more likely that redshirt freshman Christian LeMay will be next in the game if the Bulldogs build a big lead.

Mason confirmed this week that he still hopes to redshirt this season so he can establish a year of separation between him and Murray. But Georgia’s coaches still consider the seasoned Mason as their No. 2 option if Murray gets injured and has to be sidelined for a significant length of time.

That said, the Bulldogs haven’t made any special plans to get LeMay snaps early in Saturday’s game.

“Our plan is to line up with Aaron and try to win the game,” Richr said “We don’t have a plan with Christian like we might have had with [D.J.] Shockley back in the day where we knew we were going to play him in the first half. We’ll just see how the game goes and sub if possible.”

Practice update

Georgia began practice Tuesday in a driving rain storm and had to work on its two artificial grass fields. But the rain subsided 20 minutes in and the Bulldogs were able to get in a full two-hour workout. Richt wasn’t thrilled with the results, however

“I was hoping by practicing in the rain we would be able to handle the wet ball and all that kind of thing,” Richt said. “It might rain on Saturday so we better get ready. The reality was we fumbled more and dropped more balls than normal even though the rain stopped.”

This & that . . .

Defensive linemen Kwame Geathers (bruised shoulder) and Cornelius Washington (neck sprain) practiced but remained in non-contact status with injuries. . . . Tight end Jay Rome was remained limited Tuesday with a hamstring strain. . . .Wide receiver Taylor Bradberry is listed as out with a sprained thumb . . . . Asked again if he was concerned about attrition and overall roster numbers, Richt laughed. “I think we have enough guys to go play football and play well.”

MORE GEORGIA FOOTBALL

102 comments Add your comment

Augusta dawg

August 28th, 2012
9:19 pm

Augusta dawg

August 28th, 2012
9:21 pm

Cant wait for the appetizer Thursday with Vandy and USCe then for Saturday. Can u smell it in the air. Makes me think of the Better than Ezra song “This time of Year” go Dawgs!

ForsythDawg

August 28th, 2012
9:27 pm

Can’t wait for kickoff Saturday! Go Dawgs!

Old Dawg

August 28th, 2012
9:29 pm

Can’t wait. Go Dawgs!!

Dick Enhand

August 28th, 2012
9:32 pm

doolydawg

August 28th, 2012
9:35 pm

let Richard start at FB..He’s earned it!

Rama-lama-ding-Dawg

August 28th, 2012
9:41 pm

Really, Chip? You’re gonna let the To Be or Not to Be post stand?

Dawg-Gawn

August 28th, 2012
9:48 pm

Dores are blacking-out for the game chickens…. could an upset be in the making? Vandy has talent, just not a lot of depth. This is their first game and Franklin should have a full hyped-up squad!

USCe is missing their DC in Ellis Johnson… the Ole ball coach has worn out Marcus Lattimore, will he have anything left in his legs?

Whats the over/under for the visor to hit the ground, for an upset to occur? I give it a three!

“Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets”

“Fan-Up”

Believe in the “G”

MaxxDawg

August 28th, 2012
9:52 pm

Well, you have to hand it to “To be or not to be”- that was some creative, well thought out smack talk. Much better than the usual illiterate drivel that is posted on these boards.

Skint

August 28th, 2012
9:53 pm

We play walk-ons, we will not win it all. I love the fact that these guys work their butts off, but this is the SEC. We learned that last year when we ran out 5-6 walk-ons on special teams. I remember a walk-on started for us in 1985 and he couldn’t start for our intramural team.

Russell Hall

August 28th, 2012
10:22 pm

I’m hoping for a fistfight between Spurrier and Franklin Thursday night.

Go Dawgs!!

black SHEEP

August 28th, 2012
10:32 pm

to be….f u

black SHEEP

August 28th, 2012
10:33 pm

NERD HERD HOT LINE>>>478-228-0677

Pj

August 28th, 2012
10:35 pm

“My mentality going into this game is that they’re trying to prevent me from doing something that I was born to do,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound senior. “I feel like they’re trying to keep me from feeding my family. I don’t really think less of Buffalo, but I think of them as the enemy. They’re going into the game thinking they’re going to run over us and they really can’t. We don’t take anybody for granted.”

Uh-oh Missou

Huh?

August 28th, 2012
10:41 pm

To be….that was about the most awesome thing I’ve read on this site.

Tampa Gator

August 28th, 2012
10:42 pm

Trenton Brown heading down to Gainesville this weekend…….had Florida #1 before Outlaw committed. Strong interest again because of his decommitment and the fact Tunsil is likely a Dawg. May be a decommitment and a switch on the horizon for Mr. Brown??????????

And yes……looking forward to Thursday night….SC vs. Vandy. Had a strong interest in watching Texas A&M Thursday night as well…..but the came has been postpoined until October because of the strom. A&M’s first game is now against the Gators with no game experience for their freshman QB.

Tampa Gator

August 28th, 2012
10:46 pm

@Huh?…….

You must spend a lot of time reading The Inquirer and People Magazine……and not much else…..if that post by “To Be” entertained your brain.

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 28th, 2012
11:26 pm

I guess the NEW AJC isn’t going to have new login policies.

Well there goes the hope to stop the name stealing.

Henry

August 29th, 2012
12:03 am

Jenkins sounds ready to pound some O-lines. Mizzou’s O-line better be ready, that big boy is ready to hit.

Henry

August 29th, 2012
12:07 am

“My mentality going into this game is that they’re trying to prevent me from doing something that I was born to do,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound senior. “I feel like they’re trying to keep me from feeding my family. I don’t really think less of Buffalo, but I think of them as the enemy. They’re going into the game thinking they’re going to run over us and they really can’t. We don’t take anybody for granted.”

Jenkins and this defense sounds like they’re on a mission. I love this team’s attitude. It’s a TEAM. They are fighting for eachother. I can’t remember the last time the team was so tight knit.

WtfWruthnkn

August 29th, 2012
2:09 am

The team is always tight knit it’s the fickle fans that cause all the problems and talk of dissension

Mountain Dawg

August 29th, 2012
2:14 am

Has Jay Rome ever been un-injured?

Left Coast Dawg

August 29th, 2012
2:37 am

Let the games begin!

We Run the East

August 29th, 2012
6:09 am

To be or not to be… will be preceded by UGA’s annual awarding themselves the Preseason National Champs! Sure, UGA has not beat a top 20 team in a coons age, so believing they will go undefeated and be the hottest thing in college football is entirely reasonable, NOT.

JoeyHanie

August 29th, 2012
6:30 am

‘Haters gone hate” Win or loose, i dont care, I love the Dawgs. But I have seen an AMAZING attitude come out of this TEAM. I cant wait… Go Dawgs!!! GATA

thenumber34

August 29th, 2012
7:54 am

To be..but you’re not….I read the first and last lines of your drivel. You wasted a lot of energy on something few will actually read. Go Dawgs!

DIT

August 29th, 2012
7:56 am

There are some that think Vandy stands a chance against sc. My guess is that we would like to see it happen becuase it would be real funny. However, I don’t even see this as being much of a game. I feel sc will roll in the 2nd half. Of course I have been wrong before………

DawginLex

August 29th, 2012
8:39 am

Tampa-in a word NO!!!

Trenton Brown is 100% DAWG. He was just interviewed.

Since Octavius what’s his name got smoked last weekend, it is clear that UGA got the best of that deal.

HoneyBadger Has the Munchies

August 29th, 2012
8:42 am

No clown costumes this year. Just stick to winning the f*cking games because a uniform does not make you play better.

HoneyBadger Has the Munchies

August 29th, 2012
8:43 am

kingdaddy

August 29th, 2012
8:43 am

Will the trolls ever grow up and waste their energies talking about their own team? Will they ever get tired of hateing all things UGA? Not as long as we beat them every year, lol…

Dave

August 29th, 2012
8:47 am

I am really, really excited that college football is back and my Dawgs take the field. I got tired and bored of baseball after the second week. I’m interested in seeing how all of the newcomers do, but probably won’t get an accurate look until MO the following week. I think our D can be dominant and should be, but things have a way of not measuring up exactly like it seems. Been waiting for this weekend since the end of January and now it’s here. GATA!

CDAWG

August 29th, 2012
8:48 am

We Run The East, I was thinking the same thing about what To Be wrote. I cannot believe he or she took the time to type that on here.

Cobb Dawg

August 29th, 2012
9:10 am

Isn’t it considered a “start” if you’re the first fullback to take the field, regardless of whether it’s the first offensive play of the game or not?

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2012
9:25 am

Typical Richt, wishy washy, if the guy’s truly number one on the depth chart you line up the offense that way. Telling a guy he’s number one and not getting the start is demotivating….

ARdawg

August 29th, 2012
9:28 am

To be

Quite creative, I applaud your efforts there. However, it is further evidence that there is something seriously wrong with an individual who hangs out on their rivals blogs thinking of and posting that crap. You must be seething in hate. C’mon, life is too short

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
9:42 am

So If we don;t open up in a nickle defense , on the first play, Richt would be sishy washy for not playing the 5th DB to “start”.

Maybe having a fullback as listed as the #1 guy doesn’t mean we HAVE to run the I formation, the first play of every game from now on. I’d like to at least have the option of throwing the ball on the first play.

Fidlin1

August 29th, 2012
9:42 am

‘To Be’, Get off the bath salts and get back to your Craigslist stalker posts.

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2012
9:51 am

Yeah, you’re right, again. Let’s not reward the guy for earning the number one position on the depth chart, and I forgot who our OC is, he doesn’t have enough imagination to design a pass play from the I formation.

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
9:53 am

Maybe I don’t understand the term “start”. It’s not the order that you are on the chart when your position is utilized. It’s who was on the field the very first play?

Punters much feel like crap all year.

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
9:58 am

So you spend all summer complaining that Bobo is not “imaginative”, but now you are upset that we might not run the most basic offensive play in the book on the very first play of every game?

[...] maybe it is a little. “My mentality going into this game is that they’re trying to prevent me from doing something [...]

DawginLex

August 29th, 2012
10:00 am

Mobile

If the first formation run by the offense does not have a fullback, how will he start?

That was all Richt said. If there is a fullback, Hall will be the starting fullback.

That is not wishy washy. It is his OC calling the play and the formation.

Good lord

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2012
10:01 am

Apparently you don’t, honestly I gave you credit for being smarter than that. If Bobo decided to punt on the first offensive play from scrimmage the number one punter would be in the game.

DawginLex

August 29th, 2012
10:02 am

Mobile

Is that all you have to gripe about?

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
10:02 am

So Mr. Hall says: Son, I would be proud of you for being listed as the Starter in the Georgia Program, being announced as the Starter, and playing all those down, BUT they threw a short pass to on the very first play, so ….you know….we just won’t mention the game at church tomorrow.

DawginLex

August 29th, 2012
10:05 am

And if the first play for scrimmage for us is from the Buffalo 2 yard line after we recover a fumble, we will probably have 2 tight ends and one of the “starting wide receivers” will not start.

Are you going to gripe about that too?

DawginLex

August 29th, 2012
10:07 am

The truly sad thing to me is that Richt needs to have a great season to not only silence the haters from other teams but also from our own “fanbase” like Mobile.

AltamahaDawg

August 29th, 2012
10:09 am

OK,maybe I don’t understand the term. I guess there are games where we simply NEVER have a starting fullback. As well as other positions on the field that never have a “starter”.

Personally, I thought the term meant: the guy who goes into the game to play the position the first time it is used.

Mobile Dawg

August 29th, 2012
10:10 am

Good to see you back in form Lex. Thought we had lost you. For arguments sake, why would we open the game with a pass, when we’re trying to establish a running game? That would be typical Bobo and Richt. why wouldn’t we line up, play some physical football? What would you rather see, open the game with a physical running play and maybe set the tone for the season, or Murray go for the home run?