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.”
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.”
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