Notebook: Richt not convinced secondary’s returnees ‘mature enough’ to get job done next year

By Ryan Black
For the AJC

ATHENSMark Richt believes there is talent returning to his team’s secondary next season. The problem is, he hasn’t seen it on the field yet.

With Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo, Branden Smith and Shawn Williams graduating, the only underclassman defensive back who has seen significant playing time this season is sophomore Damian Swann, who has started all 13 games.

The impending departures have left Richt feeling uncertain about the state of his secondary for 2013.

“I have no earthly idea who is going to play DB for us next year based on the maturity level of the group that we have here right now,” he said. “I don’t think they’re mature enough to be the starters and I told them, ‘You’re competing with guys that aren’t even here yet. We’re recruiting our tails off and we’re going to bring some guys in here. You guys are here and we’re going to compete and we’re going to see who really belongs back there. Don’t think just because you’re next-in-line that it’s your job, because you’ve got to earn it.’”

While Richt conceded it was unlikely that any player from last year’s recruiting class would have been able to wrest a starting job away from the secondary’s senior quartet, he said those remaining have no excuses next year. If they don’t step up their play, there are hungry freshman who haven’t stepped on campus yet who could easily assume the reins.

“There’s not guys just waiting in the wings that have a guaranteed slot, there’s not guys that played a ton of snaps,” Richt said. “Now ‘Swannie’ (Swann) is a proven player to me, but the rest of them? They haven’t proved it to me yet. I hope they do. I love them and I want them to be the very best they can be, but they’ve got to earn it.”

Josh Harvey-Clemons had no issue with Richt calling out the inexperienced defensive backs, himself included. The true freshman safety said will use it as motivation.

“This year I feel like a lot of things were going real fast because we already had guys that knew what to do and knew their role, so everything was going fast for the secondary people just coming in,” he said. “I feel like this offseason we’re going to work hard.”

The Valdosta native vowed to put in the work for one simple reason: he got too familiar with not being part of the action this season.

“I hate sitting on that sideline, so I’ve got to find a way to get on the field,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes.”

But the raw returner drawing the most attention from teammates is Sheldon Dawson. Fellow freshman Jordan Jenkins said there have been countless times in practice where Dawson’s athleticism stood out.

“I remember looking back a couple of times when the ‘twos’ were in (with) Sheldon coming in and breaking up some pretty good passes and not letting guys burn him deep,” he said. “I remember him on a couple of instances this week and last week coming up and batting balls down and jumping up over guys bigger than him. He’s definitely going to be a play-maker next year.”

Sophomore receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who played the first four games this season at cornerback before moving to wide receiver for the last nine contests, vouches for Dawson.

“I just see it. I just see it in him,” Mitchell said. “He’s going to be a great player. I don’t say that often. I see good players, but I see something really different in him. You’ll see it. Just watch him.”

Other lettermen fighting for playing time next season include redshirt freshman cornerback Devin Bowman and sophomore safeties Marc Deas, Corey Moore and Connor Norman. Dawson was the only DB to sign in the 2011 class.

Commings insists there won’t be any noticeable dropoff. If it wasn’t for he and the other seniors, he said his younger teammates’ ability would have surfaced already.

“They just haven’t had a chance because they’ve had guys like us seniors in front of them,” he said. “I think all of those guys can contribute.”

Christian Robinson didn’t strike quite the same cheery note as Commings. The secondary should improve over time, the senior inside linebacker said, but not without suffering through some growing pains first.

“Somebody is going to step up. That’s what always happens,” he said. “It might not be the best product at the time, but you give it time, you give it a few games and they’re no longer rookies anymore at that position. They just need to learn a little bit more and I think they’ll be able to pick up the pace.”

Richt not convinced Twitter needed to hype program

Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social media sites. It is used by everyday people, news organizations and various other entities, including college football teams. Since taking over at Tennessee on Dec. 7, coach Butch Jones has used Twitter extensively, interacting with fans and updating followers on his day-to-day goings-on. After using his own Twitter account sparingly since starting one in 2009, Richt rejoined the social media site in May. That being said, Richt only has 203 tweets, compared to Jones, who has over 3,200.

When asked whether he would consider using Twitter more like Jones, Richt said not to count on it.

“I don’t feel like you have to Twitter to recruit or to promote your program,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying I don’t know if it’s necessary. That’s for everybody to decide how they want to go about getting the word out. Please don’t misquote me. I think it’s fine to do, but I don’t (know) if it’s necessary for us, anyway. I don’t feel like we need to do it.”

Etc.

Georgia’s injury list was lengthy for the second straight day. Wednesday’s report included receivers Malcolm Mitchell (groin), Tavarres King (hamstring) and Rhett McGowan (wrist sprain), noseguard John Jenkins (concussion), safety Marc Deas (knee) and fullback Richard Samuel (shoulder). Defensive end Abry Jones practice in a limited capacity, confined to a running-only regiment as he continues to rehab an ankle injury. … Richt wasn’t pleased with Wednesday’s practice, noting the only positive was having another on tap for Thursday. “It wasn’t quite what we’ve been getting,” he said. “The bottom line is I thought we got real sloppy today. It was not very good, but we’ll be back out here tomorrow morning.”

178 comments Add your comment

dawgfan

December 20th, 2012
2:16 am

uh first. but who cares. there is gonna be a lot of freshman/juco players on the field in the secondary next year. guarantee it

JDBlawg

December 20th, 2012
3:38 am

Tray Matthews, Shaq Wiggins, Brendan Langley, Paris Bostick, Kennar Johnson, Quincey Mauger, Shaq Fluker, and Reggie Wilkerson are all great prospects. There will be a couple that will step up for sure.

7576DAWG

December 20th, 2012
4:47 am

Alabama and South Carolina would not have been near as good as they have been the last two years without 7 or more recruit’s from the state of Georgia each. Richt is all out trying to cut that pipeline off for both South Carolina and Alabama. If Richt is successful Georgia will be able to stay with Alabama, L.S.U. and Florida every year. Without that extra depth that helps Alabama reload every year they may become only a good team in the future and not the great team they have been the last few years. The other team in the SEC that will be one of the best every year will be Texas A&M.
I think if Richt can cut off the state of Georgia to South Carolina and Alabama we will see Spurrier and Saban retire inside of three years. Depth and being able to reload is the reason any team is considered a great team and not just a very good team. I don’t think Spurrier or Saban can handle being in the middle tier or just a good team.

bwell

December 20th, 2012
5:06 am

I truly believe Georgia wll be find next year, if the players practice and stay together over the summer and go over their plays. Like playing spades, knowing what your partner going to throw out. They have to know who will be at what position and stuff on the field, so no one get burned deep. Go dawgs…. the S’cship game still hurts. But I support my DAWGS!!

gomdawg

December 20th, 2012
6:14 am

BRANDON SMITH DID NOT PLAY UP TO HIS TALENT IT WILL HURT HIM AT THE NEXT LEVEL

some sense

December 20th, 2012
6:51 am

Some of the guys listed as D/B prospects have already demonstrated that they can’t play. Focus on the ones who can and we’ll be fine.

Destin Dawg

December 20th, 2012
7:20 am

Next year will be THE year for Grantham to prove himself… 4th year in the 3/4…. new players HE recruited…. Offense will be strong… and we should have a Great year .. SEC Champs ??

sportzfan

December 20th, 2012
7:30 am

@7576DAWG….what if UGA was cut off in N. Carolina, where would your top two RB’s be? UGA is getting Mr Football from S. Carolina this year in receiver Terry. S. Carolina’s population is about 1/3 the size of Georgia and has Clemson to recruit against and UGA has GT. S. Carolina would like to cut off Fla, Fla St., Ohio St., and UGA, but there are no state lines when it comes to recruiting. UGA already gets twice as many 4 star athletics as S. Carolina, and both teams are now on about same level in football. Look no further than games against each other. I’m sure you’re going to disagree with that, but face it….it’s reality……Spurrier just extended his contract two more years and has publically stated if health permits he’ll be there at least four more years.

WTH???

December 20th, 2012
7:56 am

Who’s writing your headline, a 1st grader?

Actually, Richt is NOT convinced. And what is “nest” year?

mike on lake hartwell

December 20th, 2012
8:13 am

get off chips a**. it was 2 am and if u dont like it, dont read it.
i for one, will happily “decipher” a typo or 2 to get my fill of
valuable uga news.
just go away SUNNY.

RP

December 20th, 2012
8:17 am

Has anyone seen the HS videos of sheldon dawson on offense? Amazing athlete. I think he becomes the next brandon boykin.

JB

December 20th, 2012
8:29 am

Teams with a good passing QB will test us next year. Early and often.

JB

December 20th, 2012
8:31 am

First 2013 pre season list I’ve seen has Bama 1…..But Dawgs 5th.

bill arp

December 20th, 2012
8:40 am

Still not sure why we’re not recruiting Printz from Lassiter. The kid can throw the football!

Joey

December 20th, 2012
8:53 am

““It might not be the best product at the time, but you give it time,…”
**************************************************
Well Christian, your D didn’t exactly set the world on fire this season, until Shawn Williams lit into you guys. I’m hoping next season, these young guys play with fire, without having to be “called out.”

G-Dawg

December 20th, 2012
9:09 am

We’re going to see alotta depth in this recruiting class…and dont be surprised with some of the talent that will come in and contribute right away. There will be some learning curves early in the season, but we should be 2 deep at every position for a next 3-4 yrs.

Ugakicka

December 20th, 2012
9:20 am

@bill arp: If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to argue with Richt’s QB decisions.

DawgFaithful

December 20th, 2012
9:31 am

Starting Secondary next year:

Josh Harvey-Clemons (FS)
Corey Moore or Trey Matthews (SS)
Damian Swann (Boundary Corner)
Devin Bowman (Field Corner)
Brendan Langley (Star)

OrlandoDawg

December 20th, 2012
9:32 am

@7576DAWG

December 20th, 2012
4:47 am

Give it a rest. Do you want every single player in the state to go to Georgia? You make real bulldogs fans sick with your constant whinning.

dellane

December 20th, 2012
9:33 am

@7575 the state of Georgia probuces so many 3, 4, 5 stars that other states move in to pick out the top recruits. UGA got two RB’s from North Carolina. So the top backs here look elsewhere.
Oh,and I think South Carolina is getting a lot of Georgia players because of 3 reasons. Steve Spurrier. Winning. The SEC factor.
The SEC factor includes making South Carolina richer than the ACC schools. They get 20 million more than Clemson. This tranlates to more upgrades accross the board. Upgrades have turned the area around Wiily Brice very attractive..

WDE

December 20th, 2012
9:41 am

@Sunny Cloisters my team played a great game against a great opponent in a game that is a instant classic…we came up one play short if that is not up to your lofty standards kindly sit on it and rotate.

JB

December 20th, 2012
9:42 am

Ok. I know , wrong place, but I’m venting. John Kerry said this morning that lack of funding from Congress ( run by GOP) was one of the main causes that our Team was killed in Benghazi . He doesn’t say though during this same time that food stamps rose by 22 million people and billions of dollars……….but I’m sure he would say that’s Bush’s fault……These people take the blame for nothing. It’s Obama’s deal the next four years, and when things are the same…or worse……..I guess he’ll tell us it was worse than he thought….and needs four more years…….Losers all.

Frodo

December 20th, 2012
9:45 am

I don’t understand the headline either. The story completely contradicts it. More worthless material from the AJC.

LogicalUS

December 20th, 2012
9:46 am

“UGA already gets twice as many 4 star athletics as S. Carolina, and both teams are now on about same level in football. ”

It would seem that SC is ahead of UGA at this point since Spurrier is going for his 4th straight next year and the last time UGA beat SC gas was 1.86 a gallon.

UGA is going to have a serious problem next year on defense because Grantham has proven that he has been as OVERHYPED like so many UGA players in the past. He has simply been overmatched vs decent offenses.

Grantham had experienced, upperclassmen at virtually every spot on the defense for 2012, most of whom had been under his tuteluge for at least three years. So if Grantham was going to be the new Erk Russell which every UGA fans had been hyping for the past three years, THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE YEAR.

It is safe to say that it was pretty much a debacle on defense for 2012 as virtually every decent team ran roughshod over Grantham’s defense. Amazingly for all the hate directed at Coach Bobo, his offense saved this year edition of UGA football, yet many delusional fans still are trying to pin Grantham’s failure on him?

Next year should see a full blown crisis on the defensive side of the ball. UGA is going to explore whether or not a team can go the Clemson route in the SEC and win solely with offense.

JB

December 20th, 2012
9:48 am

Maybe Hillary could of moved some security resources from say Japan, Ireland, Germany, to the hot bed Muslim country to protect our guys IF money was a problem. Like ANY dept. head would.

zbulldawg

December 20th, 2012
9:49 am

I believe the defense will be better for two reasons. First there will be more competition Which will add must needed depth.Second these players won’t bring so much outside drama.This will be Todd’s players. The next layer of players coming in will be pushing for playing time. There was so much focus on Jarvis (not to take anything away from him) That I felt like they couldn’t come togetther as a unit.Jarvis played hurt alot. But without him we wouldn’t have be Missu or Fla.Tree didn’t show up until the last of the season. Rambo seemed to show up just when he felt like it. So really take all the BS out of the defense & they would have been one of the best in the country. I think they where better in 2011 as a unit.Just Facts !!! I’m sick & tired of all this talk about coaching changing at UGA. Now it’s about Bobo & Gardner. Last year it was Richt & Todd. Bobo will get more money Cuz he’s earned it. Bobo is stuck to UGA like wallpaper on sheet rock. And Gardner going to Auburn ? Give me a break That’s all you can come up with. Ifhe’s supid enough to do that Then we don’t need his butt at UGA. LET THE BIG DAWG EAT.

1eyedJack

December 20th, 2012
9:49 am

This is college football. Every year you lose some kids, every year you get some new kids. The team turns over every 4-5 years. Nature of the beast. If you recruit well you’ll be fine. Georgia will be fine. ;)

JB

December 20th, 2012
9:51 am

There will be little drop off on the Defense next year in Athens. The athletic talent alone regardless of coaching will keep them in every game. These aren’t Tech like recruits.

JB

December 20th, 2012
9:53 am

Auburn? Ask VanGorder about taking a job in Auburn. Hope he rented. That place is toxic.

Dolce

December 20th, 2012
9:59 am

Twitter is VERY important for recruiting, as is Facebook. Players need to feel their coach has a clue about social media. And it allows Richt to use his platform, after all, Richt has the #4 biggest twitter followers in college football, he just doesn’t use his platform well that he’s been entrusted with.

Joey

December 20th, 2012
10:01 am

7576 DAWG, nobody is gonna close off any talent pipeline, particularly to Saban.

And I hope you aren’t holdin your breath waiting for Bama to become “middle tier,” at least while Saban is there.

Dolce

December 20th, 2012
10:01 am

UGA has been putting way too much emphasis on high school ranking, speed and size on defense, and not enough on technique, like how to tackle a runner.

Jarvis Jones got embarrased in the 2nd half when Alabama started running the ball because Grantham doesn’t know how to teach his guys how to TACKLE A RUNNER.

Joey

December 20th, 2012
10:07 am

I’m not even gonna get started JB (9:48) . . .

LogicalUS

December 20th, 2012
10:14 am

“There will be little drop off on the Defense next year in Athens. The athletic talent alone regardless of coaching”

Well, geez that is certainly a step down from Grantham is the “greatest DC in the history of football” which we have seen so often for the past two years. According to all the AJC homers, the 2012 defense supposedly had NFL all world talent at every position, so how did that “athletic talent alone without coaching” will get it done work out?

Now that UPPERCLASS, mature “NFL talent” is going to be replace with JUCO\High School “NFL talent”, apparently most of whom are not even on campus yet and some people delusionally think that the defense will improve next year, right?

UGA for 2013 will likely resemble 2012 Tennessee.

Joey

December 20th, 2012
10:20 am

“Grantham doesn’t know how to teach his guys how to TACKLE A RUNNER.”
**********************************
Don’t be ridiculous, we tackled fine in the first half – our problem in the second half was Bama’s superior depth, and our distinct lack of depth, caused by the small recruiting class last year (14) and huge attritcian rate the last 3 years.

It didn’t help that our offense also had a bad run of 3-and-outs in the 2nd and 3rd quarters that made it worse for the D.

Regardless, I feel certain that a guy who has been an assistant for at least 2 of the best defensive coaches in the country, Nick Saban and Wade Phillips, knows “how to teach his players how to tackle a runner.”

njdawg81

December 20th, 2012
10:26 am

TMart quote;
Asked what scares him about Georgia’s defense, Martinez said, “Nothing. They’re like any other Big Ten defense. Big Ten defenses are the best in the country, and we’re going up against a good Georgia defense. We have to look at it like that.”

My-Guy

December 20th, 2012
10:34 am

LogicalUS: UGA for 2013 will likely resemble 2012 Tennessee.

Hahaha!!! Really, with our starters on offense returning next year, and hopefully Aaron Murray coming back, Mark Richt has great recuits for the defense next year including the people who’s been on the sidelines. I never seen any horrible posts like that before!

McDawg

December 20th, 2012
10:49 am

hearing alot of tough talk coming out of Athens by the coaches -so far the OL, K. Malcome & now the DBs are being called out

WDE

December 20th, 2012
10:53 am

LogicalUS really we will resemble 2012 UT in one regard our defense should be behind our offense, but I don’t think by the same huge gap that UT’s D was behind Bray and Co. But you keep dreaming that will happen I love killing the trolls spirits ..

DogFaceBlues

December 20th, 2012
10:56 am

Dawgs will have the most explosive offense in country. It will be okay that UGA defense not as great as this years. Managed to be without it through first 8 games.

Moist Dawg

December 20th, 2012
10:56 am

So we have one of the best d backs in the nation in Mitchell, someone who could probably be a heisman candidate game changer on defense but ohhhh no, we put him at receiver. Then we complain that we don’t have any secondary next year? What are these clowns in Athens doing?
I swear I’m going to need 2 barf bags if this keeps up.

My-Guy

December 20th, 2012
11:02 am

On the otherhand, Hutson Mason does deserve some play time next year, as a backup, but not as a starter. If our schedule next year was similar to 2011 & 2012, then yes I wouldn’t mind Aaron Murray going into the NFL early & Mason taking over. However, since our schedule is going to be much tougher next year, if we are going to win these tough games rather they are at home or on the road, we need Aaron Murray to return badly next year with the perfect O-line, running backs, and wide receivers returning next year. South Carolina’s & Florida’s 2013 schedule will be similar to our 2011 & 2012 schedule. They get the easy schedule and we get the tougher schedule. If we don’t beat South Carolina and/or Florida next year including the other teams, it’s OVER! Florida will be angry at us next year trying to get their revenge, South Carolina with Spurrier will go lights out on us as usual! The previous two times we’ve beaten South Carolina (2008 & 2009) were 7-6 South Carolina teams we barely beat! 2011 was a 7-6 Florida team we only beat by 4 points. This year our starters on defense forced 6 turnovers to help us beat Florida (who will be in the NFL draft next year). Will we rely on an inexperienced QB with a young defense next year to do all of this work, or will Aaron Murray return to Athens to help us control our own destiny for a rebirth at the SEC championship & and the final BCS National Title!?

docdawg

December 20th, 2012
11:04 am

SUNSHINE YOU`RE A NEANDERTHAL with the intellect of an alligator, which aint much ! D backfield should be fine, a lot of good athletes coming in, D line a ? Good coaches know how to use the athletes, takes a while to judge the depth but some good potential to work with, offense should bail D out next year, SC a question early on, Clemson should be good game, running game will make the difference there, and possibly with SC who has good group back but loses significant players this year on d plus Lattimore who made that offense click, otherwise, LSU and Fl may or may not be that strong offensively, with potential D holes if attrition to NFL occurs. Team should be fine, bleacher predicted a 9 win Ga season next year, with Fl better record, that is foolish at best, idiotic more like it, offensive concerns serious there, Ga wins again in Jax, 10 wins a lock, 11 possible with East crown, rematch w/ Ala or LSU. we`ll see, Sunshine needs counseling!

mcdaviddawg

December 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Part of Richt’s world every year, not be ready for the next year. He never is because he palys the same guys and rarely subsitutes evern in blowouts. The same old story of poor Richt. Georgia still needs a real coach.

ugab

December 20th, 2012
11:18 am

What is going on with all the injuries? CMR let these players get out of shape!!! We need to win this Bowl game!!!! I understand we lost the SEC championship. How are the dawgs are going to look if they lose to Nebraska? Keep the players in shape. We do not need another WV bowl game. The players were fat and lazy and out of shape. TK and Mitchell are injured? Hamstrings=out of shape

ugab

December 20th, 2012
11:20 am

Way to much time off. You have to keep the players used to playing football. Nebraska will know that CMR is terrible at keeping his players up for a bowl game. Nebraska wil do the same thing WV did. CMR will embarrass the players and fans once again.

WDE

December 20th, 2012
11:33 am

Moist Dawg I agree your Moist I really doubt your a Dawg, but I digress first what do you base your idea that MM is the second coming of Charles Woodson on? I watched him all season and even to me its plain while he maybe functional in the secondary he is special as a receiver…heisman candidate I’m still laughing.

WDE

December 20th, 2012
11:42 am

ugab damn son take a breath, we can’t practice anymore that we are that is mandated by the NCAA , fat and out of shape?? JJ has a concussion ……perhaps from hitting in practice ?

ARdawg

December 20th, 2012
11:59 am

GTBobby

Never waste an opportunity to get a dig at UGA eh?

ARdawg

December 20th, 2012
11:59 am

No matter how stupid it makes you look