LT Mark Beard’s performance in first start ‘beyond good,’ coaches and teammates say

Tackle Mark Beard (79) celebrates with Keith Marshall after helping spring the freshman tailaback for a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

Tackle Mark Beard (79) celebrates with Keith Marshall after helping spring the freshman tailaback for a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

By Ryan Black
For the AJC

ATHENS — Mark Beard’s most difficult assignment against Auburn on Saturday had nothing to do with blocking oncoming defenders.

The Georgia left tackle’s biggest issue didn’t even occur in the game itself: He had to figure out how to distribute tickets prior to kickoff. With his cousin, LaDarius Owens, playing for the Tigers, the pair had to figure out which family member would use what ticket. They wound up splitting their allotment evenly.

Beard made it a memorable experience for his family, as the Alabama native made the first start of his Georgia career against his favorite team from childhood.

“You can never be perfect,” he said after Monday’s practice. “I messed up a couple of times, but I think I played a pretty good game.”

Beard and Owens shared a brief conversation on the field following Georgia’s 38-0 victory. Owens promised to call Beard later that night to discuss the outcome in more detail. The call never came.

“I think he was just disappointed,” Beard said.

His family’s members weren’t displeased, though, and they let Beard know it after the game. Given their split allegiance between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, Beard said his family struck the right note.

“All of them just told me they’re a Mark Beard fan and that’s all I needed to hear,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”

Offensive line coach Will Friend felt Beard’s play was beyond “good” Saturday. Beard said his performance earned a spot on the team’s weekly “Victor’s Club,” an honor bestowed on players who receive a grade over 80 on coaches’ film review of the game.

But Beard doesn’t go easy on himself.

After saying last week he would give himself a “C” for the season despite appearing in every game, last Saturday’s performance barely improved that mark.

“It’s probably at a C-plus now,” he said. “I’m a tough grader.”

While Beard might be reticent to give himself credit, others weren’t as restrained. Freshman right tackle John Theus was impressed with his teammate’s initial start.

“Mark did really well,” Theus said. “He’s really worked hard to get himself into that position. He took advantage of the opportunity he had.”

Even before last Saturday, Beard had caught the eye of coach Mark Richt. Richt acknowledged injuries to other offensive lineman, right guard Chris Burnette specifically, played a part in Beard’s extensive action. But Richt said the junior college transfer has earned playing time.

“I’m glad he’s getting opportunities to play and the more he plays, the more he’ll get comfortable,” Richt said. “He’s a very good athlete, he’s strong. He’s everything we thought he was athletically. It’s just a matter of learning and getting comfortable.”

Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern could provide Beard’s first start at Sanford Stadium. While kickoff is still four days away, he has already let himself imagine what it would it feel like to run through the tunnel and hear his name announced as a starter.

“That’d be a great moment,” he said. “I think that’s something everybody looks forward to, seeing their name on that starting list and seeing their picture up there on the Sanford Stadium scoreboard. That’ll feel good.”

Theus no longer feels like first-year player

Ten games into the season, Theus has been told one excuse is no longer valid: using his freshman designation as a cover for his mistakes.

“I’m not a freshman anymore,” he said. “Coach Friend started telling me that a few weeks ago. … I feel more and more comfortable within the offense and with the calls. I sure feel more comfortable than I did the first day of camp, that’s for dang sure.”

Just not comfortable enough to correct any of his more experienced teammates on the offensive line — yet. More often than not, Theus said, it’s the other way around.

“If someone makes a call next to me, I’m very confident that’s the right call,” he said. “If there is something I’m not sure about, I (usually) have enough time to say, ‘Hey, I thought it was this.’ And then most of the time, it’s me that’s wrong, and then they’ll explain it to me.”

Theus said his fellow linemen challenged each other last week, wanting to atone for their performance against Ole Miss, when they allowed the Rebels to tally five sacks in the first half. The unit responded last Saturday, as Auburn didn’t notch a sack while Georgia rolled up 38 points and 497 yards of total offense.

“We knew as an offensive line we had to answer the bell,” Theus said. “It was our challenge as a line to do that, without a doubt. I think we answered it.”

Taking stock of the line’s overall play this season was a much tougher task for Theus. He didn’t end up rendering his take, but felt it was too soon to be handing out grades, anyway.

“The season’s not over yet. We’ve still got some more weeks left,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep going with that goal of improvement. As far as a grade, I’m not sure, but I think we’ve gotten better each week. That’s one of the things we really focus on.”

Bulldogs switch things up for practice, go full pads

Georgia practiced in full pads Monday, a change of pace from its normal routine.

“I heard rumors throughout the day from the guys that we might be doing that, just because of teams like (Georgia) Tech that run this kind of offense,” Theus said. “So I was hoping it wasn’t true, but it was true.”

Theus followed it up by saying he felt it was a “better Monday practice than we normally have.”

Richt echoed Theus’ sentiment, saying players “worked hard” and were “zeroed in on the task at hand.” Given the triple-option offense Georgia Southern runs, Richt said it was imperative his team prepare accordingly for a scheme it doesn’t face often. He believed Monday’s practice got the the Bulldogs heading in the right direction.

“Our focus this week will be completely on Georgia Southern, not on any other teams and not on the game in Atlanta,” Richt told UGA Sports Communications. “We know that we have a challenge on our hands against Georgia Southern, especially from a defensive standpoint. It is critical that we have a great week of scout-team work. We have to really dial in on our assignments and our fundamentals.”

Injury report

Burnette and outside linebacker Chase Vasser both sat out the full-pads practice Monday with left shoulder injuries. Beard said Burnette has stayed in high spirits despite the injury he suffered against Ole Miss two weeks ago. “Every time I see Chris, he’s in a good mood,” Beard said.

85 comments Add your comment

Vance Duly

November 13th, 2012
12:00 am

We need as much depth at OL as we can get — this is a good step! Fear the Beard….. WOOF!!

kingdaddy

November 13th, 2012
12:12 am

Give them time, they will shine…

kingdaddy

November 13th, 2012
12:18 am

Next year we will be deep…

Top Row Dawg

November 13th, 2012
1:41 am

This IS turning out to be a special season for the the Dream Team. Where is “The Tide is trolling and Georgia will stomp it” or “Fat Turd on I-95 in Jacksonville”?

Success is sweet revenge.

j-dawg

November 13th, 2012
1:52 am

PLEASE lose KSU and ND. Just give us a chance…

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OLD JUNKYARD DAWG

November 13th, 2012
5:31 am

GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS!

dewnsav

November 13th, 2012
6:02 am

Georgia Southern will give us a preview of Tech…will see the triple option 2 weeks in a row…good for Mark Beard, seems like a good guy and a good player…Tide Roll should be happy…go dogs

Here's Johnny!

November 13th, 2012
6:29 am

Great idea to schedule Ga So before Tek!
I really want our defense to get quality reps in before the Nerds.
Also very glad CMR and CTG approved Shaun Williams going to media with ” calling out the D”.
Go Dawgs and sorry Suprrier!

DawgFan

November 13th, 2012
6:39 am

We really need to keep our focus on Ga Southern because they are dangerous. Nah, just kidding ON YOUR KNEES BUMBLEBEES!!

Tide Roll

November 13th, 2012
6:39 am

Where’s this kid been all year? You think he’s a baller, wait till you get a taste of Xzavier Ward. I don’t understand Richt and Bobo. They act suprised about Beard. It sounds like the only reason he played was because of an injury to Burnette. You simply could not afford to go to Columbia, South Carolina, and not start this kid. He was an early enrollee and played great in the G-day game. What happened to him. Richt’s failure to recognize this talent in a timely manner, which would have allowed you to move Burnette to Center., along with his failure to give 3rd string nose guard Mike Thornton even a look on offense, and the almost criminal neglect by Joe Tereshinski and Will Friend to develop, in a timely manner, Xzavier Ward at right tackle, resulted in you taking a far inferior offensive line to Columbia where you got hammered by the Gamecocks. Richt , Bobo and Friend, with their personnel decisions along your offensive line, have cost you a shot at a National Title. Yet again.

We Run The East

November 13th, 2012
6:46 am

UGA is not national title material. UGA is 3rd best team in SEC East, 5th in SEC. UGA will again show it’s lack of heart before season is out. 35-7!

steve

November 13th, 2012
6:53 am

@We Run… If Ga is 3rd, who is 1st and 2nd??

Tide Roll

November 13th, 2012
6:56 am

Oh wait. Dallas Lee instead of Beard. Andrews instead of Burnette. Theus instead of Ward. No Mike Thornton. Now I see. Now I get it. It’s the “Georgia Way” rearing it’s ugly head. Yet again. 32 years.

BigDawg

November 13th, 2012
7:03 am

Yes the offensive line has improved as the season has gone along as it should. Beard seems to play well whenever he has been given the chance, very strong and physical guy works well at left tackle. Gates and Andrews had great games as well. Theus has improved but still makes mental mistakes but it does bode well for the future as Burnette and Lee have been steady all year. Lee and Gates seem to be very versatile guys able to play multiple positions on either side of the ball. Long looked pretty good when he was in the game with the first string as well. We seem to be building some depth along the offensive line.

I think because the offensive line was so good Saturday- Murray had what I think overall was his best game, very good decision making also Gurley once again is our best running back just seems to break tackles, gets stronger as the game goes along and sees the field better than the other running backs. Zander Ogletree as far as I am concerned has won the starting fullback position some of the blocks he has been laying on our opposition the last 3 games plus he is a very good receiver and when given the chance pretty good at carrying the ball as well. Marshal has speed need to run him outside the tackles more, not as good as Gurley up inside because he just isn’t as big and strong. Anyways this team is looking like one of the better teams we have had, maybe Kansas State, Norte Dame and/or Oregon will slip up.

Go Dawgs

joe jenkins

November 13th, 2012
7:06 am

Tide roll….shut up…….beard was not ready earlier this year…..when chris burndette gets back our o-line will be much improved….our injuries to bennett and brown will be the reason we dont win the mnc

joe jenkins

November 13th, 2012
7:08 am

mike thornton plays on the D-line anyways…..why dont you go cry some more about the aggies beating the tide

Destin Dawg

November 13th, 2012
7:12 am

Tide Roll = jealous Troll… we won the SEC East soon to play Bamer…. However I would like to see Xzavier Ward get more playing time this year maybe a strater next year.. same for Zach De bell…. and big Mike Thornton on Oline instead of buried at NG… Go Dawgs !!!!

Lorenzo Dawgriquez

November 13th, 2012
7:16 am

Worried about cut blocks and injuries the next 2 weeks. Wish we would drop Tek and Gnat Southern

Tide Roll = Techie

November 13th, 2012
7:24 am

It is incredible how much TideTroll knows about Georgia and their roster. He twists and frames thing in his inimitable trollling way, but you have to feel sorry for the guy. He must be some sort of shut-in to have the time to memorize all the minutiae about a team he hates. Sex addicts probably don’t spend as much time on pornography as the TideTroller spends on UGA football. Really, really sad.

MA English 75

November 13th, 2012
8:02 am

@Marv in Acwort, try to be civil. Your comment at 7:36 is actually libel. Plus it really has nothing to do with football. Are you a UGA grad? I doubt it.

Vampire Bill

November 13th, 2012
8:09 am

Mike Thornton needs to stay at NT. Jenkins is a senior and with Kwame likely to the NFL, Thornton is the man at NT next year.

Vampire Bill

November 13th, 2012
8:11 am

yeah really Marv.. that’s uncalled for… stinkin troll

beanster

November 13th, 2012
8:19 am

CMR loves Xavier Ward. He was touting Ward back in the spring before Theus and Beard were in Athens. Apparently though, Ward still isn’t ready. Of course, the only way someone could know that that for sure is if they’ve regularly attended practices, which not one soul who posts here actually has.

Got anything else Tech Roll?

BTW, who plays Center for Alabama an where did he attend high school?

dale

November 13th, 2012
8:24 am

Yeah, Tide Roll’s 6:39 post is pretty obsessive.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s ambivalence. I couldn’t name 3 starters for GT.

papadawg

November 13th, 2012
8:44 am

All I can say to Tide fans is enjoy this past Sat. game against #15 A&M. Teckies, you scored 60 on Podunk U. but how many did they score on your Toilet Paper Thin Defense

BILLY JACK

November 13th, 2012
8:52 am

Tide Roll is a cowardly tech person folks-no bama people are this obsessed with Georgia he hides behind handles with a racist agenda.David Andrews was SEC lineman of the week and this moron is talking about Mike Thorton who plays def.Just remember folks Tide Roll is a vile techie too cowardly to post as one.The thanksgiving week massacre is for you tide roll and gt bob.Georgia84 Tech21

I-DOG

November 13th, 2012
8:53 am

Tide Roll:

How did Saban allow this kid from Alabama go out of state. No wonder you lose to team’s like Texas A&M.

Bazooka Joe

November 13th, 2012
9:04 am

We run – interesting handle as you run nothing…. NOTHING. How many championships do you have ? none ? thought so…. how many BCS games have you been to ? None ? thought so… How many bowl games have you actually won ? maybe a couple, less than you can count one one hand I’ll bet…
Get back to us when your team can actually do something other than get sky high for one game a year, then blow others. The ol’ball sack is really doing you a disservice. He is so concerned about beating UGA that you end up choking in other big games. Middle of the pack is where your rightful place is, now go back there and be quiet like a good little boy.

Bazooka Joe

November 13th, 2012
9:06 am

to clarify for you (we run) – how many SEC championships….

Tide Roll's Tutor

November 13th, 2012
9:08 am

Answer: Those who think: wrestling is real, I’m from the government and I am here to help you, Brooklyn Bridge is for sale, and there is some nice ocean front property in Phoenix.

Question: How many people believe Tide Roll knows who should be playing at UGA?

AdMan

November 13th, 2012
9:09 am

Tide roll = Hung like a field mouse! Have you ever heard a person so in love with them selves? The only person that comes close is Spurrier.

BjohnDawg

November 13th, 2012
9:16 am

Beard # 79has done a good job..
but he has a tell
on pass plays he rolls his upper body back before the ball is snapped
he only does it on pass plays
so the defense can watch him and know dawgs will pass and not run
he does it almost every time
watch the auburn game you cannot miss it

UGA has done it to me AGAIN!!

November 13th, 2012
9:19 am

Ole Coach Mark Iht has SHUT OUT SPURRIER for the EAST TITLE and a TRIP TO ATLANTA.

SPURRIER WISHES has could coach
Ike Coach Richt.

SC will fall back ion oblivion when Steve retires in one or two more and no more Lattimore. BOO HOO.

WARD IS A PROJECT

November 13th, 2012
9:25 am

Ward did have a surgery on either a shoulder, or knee about one year ago. He came to UGA as a project kid to be developed over two or three years, counting a red shirt year. TIDE ROLL has not a clue.

Ward will play next year along with the big guy from Florida.

G-Dawg

November 13th, 2012
9:52 am

BJohn…read your comment on Beards technique…but think defensive players look at the first step by the oline to determine their reads. Next year oline should be really good…along with RBs with another year of experience, Murray coming back, TEs improving each week, and young up and coming receiver crew. Defense will lose some big play makers…but theres several young guys already to step in. Not sure if he’ll have a prototypical NT, but see several good DTs for a 4-3.

CC

November 13th, 2012
10:03 am

Beard is a DGD!

BKbroila

November 13th, 2012
10:10 am

Troll Turd….Now we know for certain that you are a GT Troll…no Alabama fan comes out of the Trailer Park after an Alabama A$$ Whoopin….BTW, Smartasss, Xzavier Ward has had 2 surgeries in the last 2 years…this is why he’s not starting at RT or anywhere else, dumb-dumb…do your homework, Nerd!!!!

Dawg Tired

November 13th, 2012
10:20 am

Tide Roll – I must say I actually agree with your accessment about coaching decisions re our OL. However, I think it is appropriate to point out that all coaches make dumb decisions form time to time. For example, Alabama has the ball at its opponents 6 yards line with a 1st and goal to go. Alabama has the best OL in the country.Alabama has running backs who are very diffcult to tackle. Alabama is losing 29 – 24 with less than 2 minutes left in the game.

Question: What is the obviously correct play call?
Answer: RUN THE DAMN BALL!

What did Alabama’s coaches decide to do? And, that decision, Mr. Roll Tide, cost your team its opportunity to win the NC this year.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2012
10:27 am

Congrats to the young Mark Beard! Excellent start to being the Rock of Gibraltar on that OL

Dawg Tired

November 13th, 2012
10:28 am

BTW – Can someone please explain how our AD can be “pleasde with the direction Coach Fox has the basketball program” headed?

[...] Prepping For GT..I Mean GA Southern This Week I found this funny: LT Mark Beard’s performance in first start ‘beyond good,’ coaches and teammates sa… Bulldogs switch things up for practice, go full pads Georgia practiced in full pads Monday, a [...]

ARdawg

November 13th, 2012
10:31 am

Dawg tired

Saban fell victim to all the hoopla around McCarron. McCarron is an “okay” qb but the media has had him in the Heisman hunt and the messiah for the second coming. Quasimoto can be a good qb behind that OL of Bama. AJ just isn’t that good. That INT at the end of the game was as bonehead pass as there is.

Youngstown WHO ????

November 13th, 2012
10:43 am

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Enuf said

Mobile Dawg

November 13th, 2012
11:35 am

Dawg Tired, I have been absolutely stunned, surprised, at how similar Alabama’s offense is to ours as of late. I’ve been a “pretty vocal” critic of the style of offense we run, and I would still like to see the toss sweep replace that weak handoff up the middle more but you are right on with your assessment. Odds are with that big Oline a good back will get to the end zone with just a little help.

Ghost of Sinkwich

November 13th, 2012
11:52 am

Let’s win the Georgia State Championship, in these next two games. The the SEC Championship, in the following week.
The O Line depth should be back up to speed, for Tech, and if the D continues to play a dominant style. I really believe we will win, all three games.

SuperB

November 13th, 2012
12:21 pm

Plyaing a triple option team the week before GT is smart

bubba4dawgs

November 13th, 2012
12:37 pm

Hey, we run the East……where are you running now?? Darth Visor must be slinging it everywhere now! So, you had a good day 35-7 but time has changed, uh, but are you paying attention. Remember also, your best players are from Georgia! How sweet the Big Dome will be while the chickens stay home. Sorry about Lattimore’s injurey……the best player you have! Hope he will be back!! Meanwhile, GO DAWGS!!

BIG MIKE

November 13th, 2012
12:42 pm

@ Mobile Dawg
What are you….a kid? Must be. Anybody that wants to run that lame toss sweep crap in the SEC is going to have it shoved back in their face. The defensive speed in the SEC won’t allow any team to make a living doing that. It works well when an interior running game has been established….which by the way is the equivalent of body blows in the sport of boxing and wears down the opponent. It’s not a bad thing to grind it out early in the running game. By the end of the game, the defense is wore out and play action passes eat ‘em up and it’s also a good time to mix in some sweeps/tosses with reverse/pass options. But, you can’t just throw out the baby with the bath water. The inside running game is essential agains a fast/quick/talented defense.

McDawg

November 13th, 2012
12:51 pm

our offense is nothing like Alabamas