Archive for August, 2012

Notebook: Still no offensive snaps for Malcolm Mitchell, but coming soon

ATHENS – The Bulldogs have completed 18 preseason practices as of Saturday morning and Malcolm Mitchell has yet to take an offensive snap in any of them. And that, the sophomore cornerback/wide receiver said, is fine with him.

“I’m just going with it,” said Mitchell, who gained 665 yards and scored four touchdowns as a freshman receiver last season. “Coach [Mark] Richt and the coaching staff are good at preparing and planning things, so I’m just letting them figure it out and I’ll do what they say.”

For now, Mitchell said he runs routes and catches balls with the quarterbacks only after practices have concluded. Richt said they will start bringing Mitchell over to work with the offense on a limited number of plays during practice about eight to 10 days before the opening game against Buffalo.

In the meantime, Mitchell has concentrated full time on mastering cornerback and nickelback in the Bulldogs’ defense.

“This is a chance to show another side of what I …

Continue reading Notebook: Still no offensive snaps for Malcolm Mitchell, but coming soon »

AP poll: USC No. 1, five SEC teams in top 10, UGA No. 6

The SEC has five teams in the top 10 of the Associated Press preseason college football poll -– but not the No. 1 team.

USC, entering its third season under coach Lane Kiffin and its first back from an NCAA-imposed two-year postseason ban, got the top ranking in the media vote released Saturday.

Alabama and LSU, the SEC teams that met in last season’s BCS title game, were ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Other SEC teams in the top 10 were No. 6 Georgia, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Arkansas. Georgia’s ranking is the highest for the Bulldogs since September 2008.

Georgia Tech received poll votes but was not ranked in the top 25.

LSU’s dismissal of star cornerback/punt returner Tyrann Mathieu from the team on Aug. 10 –- reportedly for failed drug tests -– enabled USC to move to the top of the poll. Because of Mathieu’s impact, the AP extended the voting deadline and allowed voters to amend their ballots.

Before Mathieu was kicked off the team, LSU had received …

Continue reading AP poll: USC No. 1, five SEC teams in top 10, UGA No. 6 »

Notebook: UGA’s Kolton Houston remains in NCAA limbo, but still practicing

ATHENS – Georgia’s starting offensive line appears to be set two weeks before the season opener against Buffalo. But all that could change should sophomore Kolton Houston return to the equation.

Houston is ineligible due to the presence of a banned substance that has been in his system since 2010. Georgia has appealed that suspension to the NCAA because of the insufficient dissipation of the steroid despite what Georgia claims is “no re-use.” But the appeal was denied, and Houston must wait until an acceptable threshold is reached. If and when that happens, Houston will be immediately eligible to play.

In the meantime, Houston continues to practice while undergoing testing once a week. He was listed as the starting right tackle entering preseason practice.

“There’s no update, nothing new,” coach Mark Richt said Thursday. “I would think as soon as we knew he was cleared to play, it would be something we’d want to tell everybody. We’d be excited …

Continue reading Notebook: UGA’s Kolton Houston remains in NCAA limbo, but still practicing »

No distinction between Todd Gurley and Georgia’s other tailbacks

ATHENS — Freshman Todd Gurley has out-gained the other tailbacks two-fold with 167 yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 touches in Georgia’s two scrimmages. But that hasn’t been enough for coaches to anoint him as No. 1 player at the position.

“As far as a clear-cut pecking order, I think we’ll probably come up with one a little bit later on, but not today,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said after Thursday’s practice.  “We have one more scrimmage next week and a few more padded practices to keep progressing. So we still have some time to do some evaluating and guys to get better as well. You don’t want to come up with something and then switching things up next week and create a mess.”

McClendon said after reviewing the video from Wednesday’s scrimmage and watching closely observing Gurley go through 15 preseason practices, he is as excited as everybody else about the 6-foot-1, 218-pound runner. But he is also getting positive feedback from the other three players …

Continue reading No distinction between Todd Gurley and Georgia’s other tailbacks »

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 …

Continue reading Notebook: Richt at peace with kicking game after latest display »

UGA’s Merritt Hall is proving recruiters wrong

ATHENS — Franklin Pridgen, the head football coach at Wesleyan School, was frustrated in the fall of 2010 by his inability to persuade a college to offer a scholarship to his hard-hitting senior linebacker.

“We did everything we could, putting out DVDs and writing letters and all these things,” Pridgen recalled. “I even said to our assistant coaches, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ Because even schools like Georgia Southern and Jacksonville State were, like, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ It really drove me crazy. … It was maddening to me and to him.”

Hall

Hall

Merritt Hall, the linebacker no one would offer a scholarship, wound up enrolling at Georgia last year and walking on to the football team at a new position, fullback. A year later, he is No. 1 on the Bulldogs’ fullback depth chart, a presumptive starter for the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo unless something changes in the next couple of weeks. And, oh yes, coach Mark Richt put him …

Continue reading UGA’s Merritt Hall is proving recruiters wrong »

UPDATED: Freshman TB Todd Gurley stars (again) in Georgia’s scrimmage

Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley has gained 167 yards on 15 touches and with two touchdowns in the Bulldogs' two preseason scrimmages. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley has gained 167 yards and scored three touchdowns on 15 touches in the Bulldogs' two preseason scrimmages. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS – Let the hype begin.

Georgia coach Mark Richt tried to downplay the performance of tailback Todd Gurley in Wednesday’s scrimmage. The freshman from Tarboro, N.C, led the Bulldogs in rushing for the second time in as many scrimmages this preseason. This time with 87  yards on 7 carries, two touchdowns — including a 66-yarder –  and two receptions for another 22 yards.

But Richt was unable to dampen the excitement of Georgia’s players, who are making up their own mind about what they’re seeing from the young back.

“Special,” senior safety Shawn Williams said. “When I’m standing on the sideline and watching, all I can say is, ‘Wow!’ I don’t want to say too much, but when I saw that [number] 3 running down through there today, I was like, ‘that’s going to be a …

Continue reading UPDATED: Freshman TB Todd Gurley stars (again) in Georgia’s scrimmage »

Most questions have been answered as Georgia prepares for 2nd preseason scrimmage

ATHENS – Georgia will hold it’s second controlled scrimmage of the preseason this afternoon at Sanford Stadium. And for many of the Bulldogs, this will be their most important practice of the year.

After today, Georgia will pretty much settle in on organizing its game plan for the season opener against Buffalo. But the players who will figure into those plans will largely be decided on after today.

Most of the Bulldogs’ personnel decisions have been made. We all know who the quarterback will be and, even though there were three starters to replace, the offensive line was basically established in the first week of camp.

The only real questions on the offensive side of the ball is who will start at fullback and what will the tailback rotation look like. So this is an important day for tailbacks Ken Malcome, Richard Samuel, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, as it is for right tackles John Theus and Watts Dantzler. If Samuel or freshman Quayvon Hicks going to unseat Merritt Hall at …

Continue reading Most questions have been answered as Georgia prepares for 2nd preseason scrimmage »

Football notebook: McGowan’s ‘dream come true’; scrimmage Wed.; tailback talk

ATHENS – The best part, Rhett McGowan said, was the phone call to his mother.

Approaching his fourth season in Georgia’s football program, the wide receiver from Calhoun was among seven walk-on players called to the front of a team meeting by coach Mark Richt over the weekend and awarded scholarships.

McGowan

McGowan

“I was overwhelmed,” McGowan said. “It was just a dream come true.

“I was not expecting it, but I think, in the back of their mind, every walk-on hopes for that opportunity. I wasn’t working here at camp for a scholarship – I was working to get on the field and help this team. Getting that scholarship is amazing and just another thing on top of that.

“It affects my mom more than it does me, honestly. I would still be putting the work in out there [either way], going as hard as I have been.”

It affects Louise McGowan financially, her son noted, because football scholarships cover tuition, fees, room, board and books.

“That’s the first person I …

Continue reading Football notebook: McGowan’s ‘dream come true’; scrimmage Wed.; tailback talk »

Video: Georgia’s biggest surprises, greatest concerns at halfway point of preseason practice

Following is a video chat I had with Noah Coslov of CineSport about Georgia football Tuesday afternoon. We’ll be having these chats weekly for the rest of the preseason and throughout the regular season. In this “episode,” Coslov asks me me to talk about the biggest surprises so far, work still to be done and try to assess the Bulldogs’ ability to handle high expectations this season.

Continue reading Video: Georgia’s biggest surprises, greatest concerns at halfway point of preseason practice »

Football notebook: Back to school for Dogs — graduate school in QB Murray’s case

(Updated 9 p.m.)

ATHENS — As fall semester classes began Monday at Georgia, Aaron Murray opened a new chapter in his academic playbook: graduate school.

Georgia’s starting quarterback, who has two seasons of football eligibility remaining, earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in May and was accepted into UGA’s graduate program in industrial-organizational psychology.

“It’s actually a doctorate program,” Murray said. “You get your master’s along the way.”

According to the UGA Department of Psychology website, the graduate program in industrial-organizational psychology “exists to develop, research and apply psychological principles to raise the quality of life for working individuals.”

Said Murray: “It’s a pretty big field nowadays. A lot of companies are hiring I-O psychologists.”

Whether Murray completes a master’s or Ph.D. degree in the foreseeable future might depend on how his other career aspiration unfolds.

He is eligible to enter next …

Continue reading Football notebook: Back to school for Dogs — graduate school in QB Murray’s case »

Seven walk-ons awarded scholarships; two of them may start

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt on Sunday awarded scholarships to seven walk-on players.

Two of them — tailback Brandon Harton and defensive back Blake Sailors — are former walk-ons who were placed on scholarship last year and were renewed for the coming year. The other five are all getting aid at UGA for the first time, including fullback Merritt Hall and safety Connor Norman, who figure to start or play significant roles early in the season. The other recipients are cornerback Luis Capella, receiver Rhett McGowan and linebacker Kosta Vavlas.

Georgia, of course, is infamously low on its scholarship numbers for the coming. It had 72 before Sunday’s actions by Richt. As it is, the Bulldogs remain six below the NCAA maximum allotment of 85.

Here’s a look at the seven recipients:

CapellaDB Luis Capella, junior, Augusta: Capella (5-10, 176) is third-string cornerback and special teams player. He graduated from Richmond Academy and has made the AD’s honor roll and the SEC academic honor …

Continue reading Seven walk-ons awarded scholarships; two of them may start »

Extra effort needed for Jarvis Jones to duplicate 2011 production

Georgia All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones is working overtime with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to make sure his production does not wane this season. (AP photo)

Georgia All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones is working overtime with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to make sure his production does not wane this season. (AP photo)

ATHENS — Much is expected of Jarvis Jones this season, and deservedly so. He was, after all, the SEC’s sack leader and a consensus All-American.

But duplicating his tremendous production — 70 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 49 QB pressures — won’t be easy this year. That’s why Jones has been working overtime in the film room with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

“He’s got to understand that there are a lot of good coaches in this league, and they’re going to say, ‘All right, we’re not going to let this guy wreck the game,’” Grantham said after the Bulldogs’ morning practice on Saturday. “They’re going to try to find ways to take him away. You’ve got to have answers for that.”

Grantham said Jones has unique athletic gifts and intelligence that allowed him to record the …

Continue reading Extra effort needed for Jarvis Jones to duplicate 2011 production »

Bulldogs celebrate end of ‘camp’ with annual ‘Watermelon Day’

Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch (L) and Christian Conley pose for pictures during "Watermelon Day" Saturday at Sanford Stadium. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch (L) and wideout Christian Conley pose for pictures during "Watermelon Day" Saturday at Sanford Stadium. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

ATHENS — Today was “Watermelon Day” for the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. It’s a tradition that dates back to the Vince Dooley days and perhaps beyond in which the team celebrates the end of “camp” by sharing watermelon after the morning practice on the last day of two-a-days.

Of course, the significance of it has dwindled considerably  in recent years as Georgia — like all other FBS programs — is limited by NCAA rule to just two twice-a-day practice sessions. And the Bulldogs have completed only 12 of 28 preseason practices, so they’re far from actually completing anything. But with fall semester beginning on Monday, I guess it’s reason enough to celebrate with a melon-cutting.

Following is a link to a short video of the festivities on georgiadogs.com. You’ll note that coach Mark Richt is …

Continue reading Bulldogs celebrate end of ‘camp’ with annual ‘Watermelon Day’ »

Bulldogs are ‘definitely going to play’ freshman tailbacks Gurley, Marshall

You can count on seeing freshman tailback Keith Marshall in action early and often this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

You can count on seeing freshman tailback Keith Marshall in action early and often this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

ATHENS — Whether or not they’ll start anytime soon is uncertain, but freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will definitely play extensively this season. Georgia coach Mark Richt made that clear after Friday’s practice, Georgia’s 10th of the preseason.

“I’m not afraid to play them,” Richt said. “We’re definitely going to play them. It’s just a matter of how much.”

Gurley said he’s not surprised to be in position to play his first season. He was one of seven freshmen who play offense who were available for interviews for the first time on Friday.

“They told me to be ready to play,” Gurley said. “But, you know, it depended on me, how well I picked up the system and how I came out whether I was redshirted. . . . I’ve just kept doing what I’ve been doing and I’ve picked …

Continue reading Bulldogs are ‘definitely going to play’ freshman tailbacks Gurley, Marshall »

Marlon Brown: Not satisfied, but ‘I’m not done yet’

ATHENS – When Marlon Brown — a Parade All-American, Tennessee’s “Mr. Football” and scout.com’s No. 2 wide-receiver prospect in the nation — signed with Georgia in 2009, the recruiting world overreacted, as it tends to do.

The nationally televised signing ceremony at Brown’s high school in Memphis spawned celebration in Athens and protestation in Knoxville. Famously, Lane Kiffin, then Tennessee’s coach, claimed Brown would have signed with the Vols if not for his grandmother’s insistence that he go to Georgia.

In a recruiting class that brought a number of highly touted prospects to the Bulldogs — quarterback Aaron Murray, tight end Orson Charles, cornerback Branden Smith and tailback Washaun Ealey among them — none garnered more attention at the time than Brown.

Three years, just 28 catches and several injuries later, Brown prepares for his senior season.

“Crazy,” he said. “I’m thinking back to my freshman year, and I’m like, ‘That was just …

Continue reading Marlon Brown: Not satisfied, but ‘I’m not done yet’ »

Freshman OL John Theus making no assumptions about starting

ATHENS — Offensive freshmen were available for interviews for the first time on Friday at Georgia. So I had a chance to talk to tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, fullback Quayvon Hicks, tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, wide receiver Blake Tibbs and, of course, offensive lineman John Theus.

Theus

Theus

Most of the guys were fairly shy and pretty much stuck to the script of “I’m just working hard and trying to get better.” But of all of them, only Theus seems almost assured of starting in the Bulldogs’ season opener. He has been entrenched with the No. 1 offense at right tackle since the first week of preseason camp.

” I don’t know if I’d name him the starter right now, but he’s definitely lining up No. 1 at right tackle,” head coach Mark Richt said. “He’s getting better every day. He’s got a ways to go but John’s getting there.”

Following are some of the comments Theus made when questioned by the press on Friday.

On working with the No. 1 offense . . .

“Me and Watts are …

Continue reading Freshman OL John Theus making no assumptions about starting »

UGA hoops schedule set; no trip to Kentucky

Georgia’s 2012-13 men’s basketball schedule, announced Friday, includes two games against Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M but only one game against each of the eight other SEC opponents.

The schedule format is different than in the past because of the SEC’s expansion from 12 teams to 14 and from 16 conference games to 18.

Under the format approved by SEC schools in June, each team has one designated opponent that it will play twice every season – South Carolina in Georgia’s case – while other home-and-home opponents will rotate from year to year.

As a result, for the first time since the 1963-64 season, Georgia will not have a road game against Kentucky.

The Bulldogs’ lone game against Kentucky, the defending NCAA champion, is scheduled for March 7 in Athens, the next-to-last game of the regular season. (Georgia’s all-time record against the Wildcats in Lexington, Ky., is 5-57.)

In another rarity, Georgia’s schedule includes only one …

Continue reading UGA hoops schedule set; no trip to Kentucky »

UGA freshman Marshall Morgan getting a kick out of all the attention

GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

ATHENS – Georgia freshman place-kicker Marshall Morgan made a rookie mistake after Thursday’s practice.

Rather than enter the interview area at Butts-Mehre Hertitage Hall in the company of one or more teammates, he came to the second floor alone. He also came up first, which meant he got the undivided attention of dozen or so reporters there to get first shot at first-year freshman interviews. To date, they’ve been off-limits to media.

But Morgan just smiled when he realized he was completely surrounded with the entire lot. “It’s pretty great,” Morgan said of all the attention. “I like it.”

Might as well get used to it. The kicking tradition at Georgia is one that bears some weight of responsibility as it is. Add the fact that the a highly-touted recruit out of Fort Lauderdale is having to take over  as a true freshman and it’s clear that a lot of eyes will be on Morgan this fall.

While Morgan hasn’t exactly lit up camp so far — he missed …

Continue reading UGA freshman Marshall Morgan getting a kick out of all the attention »

UPDATED: Pecking order in Georgia’s backfield appears unchanged

MORNING PRACTICE UPDATE

Updated with comments from coach Mark Richt . . .

ATHENS – Todd Gurley’s standout performance in yesterday’s scrimmage did not appear to alter the pecking order in Georgia’s offensive backfield.

Take it for what it’s worth, but Gurley was still running as third-team tailback when the Bulldogs went through drills early in Thursday’s practice. Gurley, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound freshman from Tarboro, N.C., was Georgia’s leading rusher in the first scrimmage of the preseason on Wednesday. He had 58 yards on six carries and scored on a 40-yard run.

When the running backs were doing drill work with coach Bryan McClendon Thursday morning, the rotation stacked up like this:

  • First team — fullback Merritt Hall and tailback Ken Malcome;
  • Second team – fullback Richard Samuel and tailback Keith Marshall;
  • Third team – fullback Quayvon Hicks and Gurley.

Again, it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. It’s pretty clear that all six of those players — …

Continue reading UPDATED: Pecking order in Georgia’s backfield appears unchanged »

WR Rantavious Wooten emerges from lost season healthy and refocused

Georgia's receiving corps should benefit greatly this fall from Rantavious Wooten's 26 games of experience. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia's receiving corps should benefit greatly this fall from Rantavious Wooten's 26 games of experience. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

ATHENS – Much has been written about Georgia’s wide receiving corps losing Malcolm Mitchell to the defensive said of the ball. But little has been said about the addition made to that group since last season.

Rantavious Wooten is back in the fold. And while that might not seem a big deal outside the program, getting back a player with 26 games of experience under his belt is a big deal inside Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

“When Rantavious has been healthy, he’s made plays,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He’s shown the ability to get open. He’s shown quickness. We’ve got a lot of taller, longer guys that are striders. [Tavarres King] has some of the quick-twitch stuff and so does Rantavious. It’s good to have a guy like that we can put out there.”

Wooten’s just happy to be on the field, …

Continue reading WR Rantavious Wooten emerges from lost season healthy and refocused »

UPDATED: Georgia’s Marlon Brown, Todd Gurley star in pass-happy scrimmage

Freshman tailback Todd Gurley is generating some buzz in the Bulldogs' preseason camp. He led the backs with 58 yards and a touchdown during Wednesday's scrimmage. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Freshman tailback Todd Gurley is generating some buzz in the Bulldogs' preseason camp. He led the backs with 58 yards and a touchdown during Wednesday's scrimmage. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Georgia held its first full-scale, controlled scrimmage of the preseason at Sanford Stadium on Wednesday. Head coach Mark Richt called it a “good scrimmage” with “some bumps and bruises, but I don’t think anything came from it.”

Following are the “unofficial official stats,” as  Richt likes to call them. Below that are some comments from coaches and players and general observations.

RUSHING

  • Todd Gurley 6 carries — 58 yards — 1 touchdown
  • Ken Malcome 5-32-0
  • Brandon Harton 7-25-0
  • Kyle Karempelis 4-15
  • Keith Marshall 7-11

PASSING

  • Aaron Murray 12 completions — 17 attempts — 170 yards — 1 touchdown — 0 interceptions
  • Hutson Mason 9-13-86-1-0
  • Christian LeMay 3-6-44-0-1
  • Parker Welch 4-7-18-0-0
  • Faton Bauta 0-3-0-0

RECEIVING

  • Marlon Brown 6 receptions — 103 yards — 2 …

Continue reading UPDATED: Georgia’s Marlon Brown, Todd Gurley star in pass-happy scrimmage »

Atlanta may be underdog in Champions Bowl bid (updated)

Atlanta plans to submit a bid within two weeks to host the Champions Bowl, a new college-football postseason game between teams from the SEC and the Big 12, but might be an underdog in the competition.

The SEC Championship game is played here annually, raising questions about whether the SEC would put back-to-back marquee events in the same city and whether the Big 12 would favor putting the new bowl on what could be considered an SEC home field.

“Certainly, you could speculate that hosting the SEC Championship game puts us at a disadvantage,” said Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl and a leader of the local group pursuing the Champions Bowl. But he said such speculation would not dissuade Atlanta, one of 10 cities invited this week by the SEC and the Big 12 to bid for the game, from submitting a proposal.

“First off, we were extended an invitation to bid, and out of respect to the SEC and the Big 12, we want to do that,” Stokan said. “Next, we think this …

Continue reading Atlanta may be underdog in Champions Bowl bid (updated) »

Bulldogs getting after it in first major scrimmage of preseason

The Bulldogs stretch in the East end zone before Wednesday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. Coach Mark Richt said it would be a big day as far as determining lineups for opening game.

The Bulldogs stretch in the East end zone before Wednesday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. Coach Mark Richt said it would be a big day as far as determining lineups for opening game.

ATHENS – Just returned from Sanford Stadium and viewing the open portion of the Georgia’s first scrimmage of the preseason. Not a lot to observe as Bulldogs give media only the warm-up sessions.

  • Notably, defensive end Ray Drew remained sidelined and not dressed out due to a concussion. Cornerback Damian Swann remained green non-contact jersey (neck sprain). OLB James DeLoach (hamstring) was back in action. Otherwise injury situation has remained pretty tame for Bulldogs one week into preseason camp.
  • Former Georgia offensive line coach and UAB head coach Neil Callaway was watching the workout. He’s been back a few times since the Blazers’ dismissed him. Said he’s still living in Birmingham and hoping to return to football as soon as possible.
  • Georgia coach Mark Richt was …

Continue reading Bulldogs getting after it in first major scrimmage of preseason »

Practice notes: Focus on freshmen kickers, Theus update, and more

ATHENS -- The first of Georgia’s two practices Tuesday was devoted to special teams, where the Bulldogs’ kicking game is in transition with freshmen Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber seeking to establish themselves as the placekicker and punter, respectively.

“They’re good. They’ve got leg strength. They’ve got everything you could want in a freshman kicker and punter,” said Ty Frix, Georgia’s senior long snapper, who worked with Morgan and Barber three or four days a week all summer. “But with everything, they’re freshmen; we’ve still got to keep working and maximize the next three weeks to get where we need to be.”

Blair Walsh was Georgia’s placekicker the past four seasons and Drew Butler its punter the past three. Walsh and Butler now are in NFL training camps with the Vikings and Steelers, respectively.

Freshmen “are not going to come in and fill those shoes right away, but they’re darn good, both of them,” Frix said of Morgan, who is from Fort …

Continue reading Practice notes: Focus on freshmen kickers, Theus update, and more »

Jarvis Jones wants to ’seize the moment’

ATHENS – Chatting with several reporters for about 15 minutes between practices Tuesday, Georgia junior linebacker Jarvis Jones mentioned that he is on pace to graduate next summer.

He smiled as he realized that comment invited the sure-to-be-often-asked question: Will he stick around campus that long or leave early for the 2013 NFL draft?

“Man, we’ve got a long season ahead of us,” Jones said. “A prediction or anything in that sense -– I’m just going to let it play out. I know where you’re trying to get me to go there, but if I’m blessed to have the opportunity, I think our coaches and the Bulldog Nation will realize. But as far as now, we’re in training … and that’s what I’m focused on, making myself and my teammates better.

“The next move, man, is going to be down the road, which I don’t know what it is yet. I’m just trying to take it all in stride. You know, carpe diem and just seize the moment I have right now.”

Jones also was eligible for this …

Continue reading Jarvis Jones wants to ’seize the moment’ »

Concussion sidelines Ray Drew from UGA practice (updated w/ practice notes)

(Updated 3:50 p.m.)

ATHENS – Georgia’s football team held its first full-pads practice of preseason camp today, minus a half-dozen injured or ill players.

Among the injured: defensive ends Abry Jones, out with a left knee contusion, and Ray Drew, sidelined by a concussion.

Georgia disclosed the injuries as part of a new policy of providing reporters covering practice a daily, written “injury-illness report” from director of sports medicine Ron Courson.  Today’s report provided no indication how long Jones and Drew will be sidelined from practice, nor any further detail on their injuries.

Coach Mark Richt, who in the past has tended to answer reporters’ questions about injuries after practices, sometimes with incomplete information, said the new policy was decided upon in the off-season.

“It wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t my brainstorm, but I’m part of the team,” Richt said. “I think it’s just to give you guys exactly what we want to give you [regarding injuries], and if you ask …

Continue reading Concussion sidelines Ray Drew from UGA practice (updated w/ practice notes) »

UGA’s Rodney Garner on roster management, Penn State and recruiting character

ATHENS – Rodney Garner wears a lot of hats for Georgia. He’s assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the Bulldogs. But for media that cover the football program, Garner is known first and foremost as a man who tells it like it is.

Garner

Garner

Garner was available to talk to reporters for the first time in preseason camp on Sunday. His candor on a number of topics is sure to grab some attention. Garner spoke frankly about Bulldogs’ recruitment — or lack of recruitment — of Penn State players, scholarship management, recruiting character and his personal coaching style, among other things.

Here are some of the highlights from Garner’s 15-minutes question-and-answer session on Sunday:

On asking permission to contact 19 Penn State players . . .

“I ain’t ever figured that out. I guess our compliance office set us up, because we’re the only ones who had to send in a list of guys we were just interested in. We didn’t even contact probably a …

Continue reading UGA’s Rodney Garner on roster management, Penn State and recruiting character »

Malcolm Mitchell all defense for now but double-duty starts soon

With Branden Smith (L) and Malcolm Mitchell holding down the cornerback positions, Georgia feels like its secondary can overcome early-season depth issues due to suspensions. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

With Branden Smith (L) and Malcolm Mitchell holding down the cornerback positions, Georgia feels like its secondary can overcome early-season depth issues due to suspensions. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

ATHENS – Saturday represented Day 18 of The Great Experiment for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Malcolm Mitchell, arguably the Bulldogs’ most explosive, big-play wide receiver, was moved to cornerback for the 15 days of spring practice back in April. He remained on defense as Georgia completed its third day of preseason camp on Saturday and he’ll stay there at least through the first couple of games of the 2012 season.

What happens after that is anybody’s guess. Ideally the Bulldogs will win those early games, suspended players will move back into their respective defensive positions and Mitchell will go back to hauling in passes from quarterback Aaron Murray. But ultimately how things are going on the football field will dictate how much Mitchell plays and on which side …

Continue reading Malcolm Mitchell all defense for now but double-duty starts soon »

UPDATED: Georgia clears CB Branden Smith to play in opening game

Branden Smith's clearance to play this season not only bolsters Georgia's secondary, but also its return game. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Branden Smith's clearance to play this season not only bolsters Georgia's secondary, but also its return game. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

ATHENS — Georgia senior cornerback Branden Smith, who was facing suspension because of a marijuana arrest in back in March, was cleared by the school to play in the Bulldogs’ season opener.

Coach Mark Richt made the announcement shortly after Georgia completed its third practice of preseason football camp on Saturday in Athens.

“Branden Smith will play Game One,” Richt said. “After [reviewing] all the information that we’ve gathered, we’ve decided that he’ll be available to play in the first game and he’ll be available to talk about any details. After determining what happened, we’ve got peace that we’re doing the right thing.”

Smith was expected to miss at least one game as per the UGA athletic association’s conduct code, which calls for an automatic suspension for 10 percent of competition dates for …

Continue reading UPDATED: Georgia clears CB Branden Smith to play in opening game »