Notebook: Merritt Hall back in rotation at fullback, outlook poor for Abry Jones

ORLANDO, Fla. — Early in the year, as tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall were ripping off long runs right and left, Georgia coaches were careful to mention what a good job Merritt Hall was doing paving the way for them. But the Bulldogs lost their starting fullback to a severe ankle injury on the first play of the Florida game and the redshirt freshman has played very little since.

But after playing only on the kickoff return ream in the SEC Championship game, Hall now appears set to get back in the rotation in the backfield. He said his ankle is “80 to 90 percent” healthy, but that’s enough for him to help.

“I feel great out there on the practice field,” Hall said. “I feel like I’m getting people out of the hole and I’m able to drive off my ankle well enough to be able to get the job done.”

Hall said he has been rotating with junior Zander Ogletree in practice and expects to do the same in Tuesday’s game.

Outlook poor for Abry Jones

Just a couple of days ago Abry Jones and the Bulldogs talked optimistically about the senior defensive end playing in Tuesday’s game. Sunday, the outlook was decidedly more negative.

“I don’t know how much he’ll go,” Richt said before Sunday’s practice. “I wouldn’t say he’s just flying around right now. He’s been working really hard to get back to where he can play. But what kind of condition is he in? How quickly can he move? I mean, I don’t want to put him out there if he’s not ready to play full speed Georgia football. So I’m not 100 percent sure how much he will play.”

Jones was a starter before undergoing ankle surgery in October. Richt said he will be monitored closely over the next two days and a determination would likely be made during pregame warmups.

Richt on Ray Drew

One of the players who will be counted on to step up in Jones’ absence is sophomore Ray Drew. Drew was a 5-star signee and one of the top-rated players in the nation coming out of Thomas Central High. Richt didn’t mince words when asked Sunday if Drew was going to live up to expectations.

“He needs to,” Richt said. “It’s time for him to step up and be a great player for us. He’s in the same boat as those (defensive backs). All of them are. No one has a job nailed down. There are some guys that have played enough where we know they’re going to play. We understand that. But Ray needs to be a guy who is highly productive for us.”

Drew is currently the first defensive end in the game after starters Garrison Smith and Cornelius Washington.

Rambo and the kids

One of the best pictures by UGA’s sports communication staff features Bacarri Rambo intensely competing against a young boy on a video game on Sunday. The Bulldogs participated in “A Day for Kids Disney World” and Rambo ended up being paired with a 13-year old boy named Malcolm.

“I like to compete and he kept beating me in every game,” Rambo said later. “I was just trying to get the best of him in one game. He was talking trash and bragging about it.

“We played Madden; he beat me. I couldn’t do anything on defense. He was just throwing the ball all over me. We played the NASCAR game and he beat me in that. I wanted to run him off the road but I couldn’t catch him. And we played the little bumper car thing and they beat us in that, too. I was a little angry there for a moment.”

Rambo, Aaron Murray, Chris Burnette, Christian Robinson and Garrison Smith were among the Bulldogs to participate in the activities, rising at 6 a.m. Sunday morning to do so.

“I really enjoy being out there with kids; I love kids,” Rambo said. “I have a lot of nieces and nephews I like to spend time with when I’m back home. Spending times with those kids and just being around them, it just gives you a great feeling.”

High marks for JSW

Redshirt freshman receiver Justin Scott-Wesley received effusive praise from Richt when he was asked to identify some back-up players who have stood out while awaiting their chances to play more prominent roles.

“I was just talking to Justin for a little bit and I just told him I was proud of him for how he worked all season long because he’s gotten better,” Richt said. “He’s one of those guys where fans, they kind of know the starters and they kind of know the incoming class, but they kind of forget about everybody in between. That’s kind of what you’re talking about with Justin and guys like Corey Moore and Devin Bowman and Sheldon Dawson. They’re guys that are on the brink of having some really significant roles on this team and are working toward that.”

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48 comments Add your comment

42_10-WeRunThisState

December 31st, 2012
9:03 am

Goldenrod

December 31st, 2012
9:10 am

First. Go Jackets! Beat USC!

Go Huskers!

813 Dawg

December 31st, 2012
9:44 am

Ray Drew, Jonathan Taylor, JHC, Corey Moore, Sheldon Dawson time to step up and play a big roll! good off season and we’re right back in Atlanta

813 Dawg

December 31st, 2012
9:57 am

and this time we win that sucker

Dawg Fud

December 31st, 2012
10:08 am

Kudos to Rambo, Murray, Burnette, Robinson and Smith.

It’s this kind of stuff that really matters in life. The human element.

Proud of you boys.

James in Amelia Island , Florida

December 31st, 2012
10:14 am

Way to go Rambo, Murray, Burnette , Robinson and Smith. Giving back some to the young kids who really need it. Life is not always what you take but what you give back. Now go bring home a Win!
GO Dawgs !!

Hank Hill

December 31st, 2012
10:20 am

@Goldenrod

December 31st, 2012
10:26 am

What a tool. I’m for Tech if only because I hate Southern Cal and the media darling they are. So, I hope they get butt-stomped by an ACC also-ran (redundant, I know) that we own. Goooooooo Jackets!

FAN

December 31st, 2012
10:34 am

It takes a huge loser to come on a UGA blog and say “Go Huskers.” Its so sad listening to you tech fans that live vicariously through other teams that play and sometimes beat UGA. The annual match between UGA and Tech was so unevenly matched up it was just another game for us. We scored at will on tech and tech had no answer. Your program is an absolute joke. 42-10 and it could of be way worse.

FAN

December 31st, 2012
10:36 am

for all you Internet English Professors, *been.

JB

December 31st, 2012
10:52 am

When Drew committed to Dawgs, I remember one recruiting service saying ” They won’t be able to keep him off the field when he gets there”……… I would like to see him on the field period.

Columbus Dawg

December 31st, 2012
10:53 am

Read an interesting article that backs up everything I have said about Georgia’s national relevance and what MUST happen in order to get out from under the national “opinions” from the media and opposing programs and fan bases. Georgia was dealt a lose, lose situation in Nebraska as it’s bowl opponent. The Dawgs MUST dismantle the Huskers tomorrow, not necessarily by scoring seventy like the Badgers did, but must win handily none the less. Otherwise it will be the same ole same ole in the media in the off season, and this talking head mantra has gotten more than old to all of the Dawgs I know. I must say I am happy to see Richt already calling out players like Ray Drew, and some of the up and coming players in the secondary to live up to their billing. It is time for the players that will remain at UGA to lay it all on the line for the team. Why is it that the players in Athens need so much “motivating” and the like for every game that comes along? It seems that every team UGA plays has more motivation than needed when coming to face the Dawgs. Is it the face of the less than motivated head coach that is causing this? Someone desperately needs to explain the urgency to the head coach of this program. The University of Georgia Football Team is not bound to impress NFL scouts, but to win football games for the university. Mark Richt needs to understand this. Coaches like Saban and Miles are not in it to make promises to players, or guarantee their draft status, but to do EVERYTHING possible to win every game they play as best they can. Richt either needs to wake up, or move on.

JB

December 31st, 2012
10:53 am

This game ( stopping the run) is starting to worry me.

JB

December 31st, 2012
10:55 am

The strength of this Dawg D is getting to a passing QB. Guess what. There isn’t one in this game. Gonna have to man up and stop a run game. Dawgs have had trouble all year doing that.

CC

December 31st, 2012
11:07 am

Rambo is a DGD.

askanyone

December 31st, 2012
11:18 am

Did someone say DREAM TEAM? Oh yeah, I forgot, UGA **NOT**is a place where 4 and 5-STAR players go to get better. Recruits have their blinders on when Pastor Richt puts on his show.

UGA can keep getting these top notch recruits as long as they keep choking on the national stage! Richt – Call that timeout, hurry!

JB

December 31st, 2012
11:25 am

askanyone…………If i remember, 118 teams ( All of them but two) watched the Dawgs play Bama to the final whistle to get a shot at the title…….If you are a Techie……Or whatever………Your team was someone watching. Dawgs are pretty dang good

SavDawg

December 31st, 2012
11:29 am

I really don’t understand why we can’t stop the run. We have good LB’er are we weak in the DL? Are we playing the right people?
I heard a lot of comments about the MLB Herria not playing in Ala game. Was he hurt or just in CTG doghouse w/ UGA.

TheWildWildWes

December 31st, 2012
11:31 am

It is truely sad to see the state of football at tech. Iam ols enough to remember when turdmites had a football program. i hope that they keep JOHNSON, maybe tech should join the big east

ugab

December 31st, 2012
11:35 am

I watched Ray Drew get blocked by smaller players in high school with no problem. Cairo High School blocked Drew all night long with small OL. He would be playing, if he was that good. I believe alot of the DL problems for Uga is conditioning. OL are looking a little more in shape this season.. Last season, Uga had the biggest OL in the nation. I was not impressed. I hope the new DL coach pays off. Alabama proves every season that Grown Man Football starts in the trenches.

Columbus Dawg

December 31st, 2012
11:35 am

Grantham also needs to man up and take responsibility for his D’s shortcomings. He is the highest paid asst. coach in the history of UGA Football. His denial of the inability to stop the opposition’s run game is inexcusable. I saw in an AJC article where McGarity is not “comfortable”. Why in blazes would he be comfortable? His team has yet to do ANYTHING that would make any coach, or any administrator of a supposedly top five football program comfortable by any means. Some improvement seen by highly recruited players has been made, but MUCH more must be made. Erk would be embarrassed by the rushing totals that UGA’s run D has given up in the past few seasons. This back patting has got to stop, at least until the team does something to deserve it. People want to jump on Pollack for his lack of praise for the team, and I must admit he rubbed me wrong a little, but looking at what he has really said, he is absolutely correct. Everyone wanted to discount the hiring of Will Friend as OL coach, I have news for you, he has made that Auburn player that was in Athens before him look like a boob. Friend, in my opinion has done a better job than Grantham so far. Grantham has had an upperclassmen laden, highly recruited bunch, and has underachieved with it. Friend took what he had, freshman and all, and has built a cohesive group out of it. There is a heap of room for improvement for Grantham at his point.

ugab

December 31st, 2012
11:45 am

WildWildWes,
Guillard did get wipped against Alabama. I would of liked to have seen more of Hererra also. The entire defense got wipped in that game. I still believe there were a few no calls that could of helped the dawgs. Oh well, to spike it or not to spike it. lol Even if we would have spiked it, we still has to score. Alabama attacked Uga. Uga at times just needed a yard and could not get it. Bobo ran a pass play when we needed one yard. Qb sneak should get a yard everytime.

7576DAWG

December 31st, 2012
12:00 pm

Drew’s problem is he is a nice guy and his personality is gentle. He has got to learn like Jarvis Jones did that it is okay to turn the switch on and kick some butt. Drew will never make it to the pro’s if he can’t prove that he can be aggressive and tough at times. Drew also needs to work on his speed.
Where Drew and a lot of the last two years recruits have a huge advantage on the 2013 class is they already know the playbook which is more complicated than a lot of programs. Grantham is all about the defense knowing their assignments and not doing your on thing . The reason Alabama ran for 350 yards against our defense is because our defensive players were out of position a lot. Now ,did Alabama’s Offensive line have a lot to do with that? Probably.

ARdawg

December 31st, 2012
12:28 pm

Drew will be the punisher most thought him to be. He’s the real deal and was playing behind some pretty good talent. Just you Tech trolls and naysayers watch

Brainiac (CMR/UGA Fan For Life)

December 31st, 2012
12:40 pm

If Ray drew never again sets foot on the field for UGA he has earned our respect and gratitude for the recruits he helped get to Athens. He is the person most responsible for the “Dream Team” signing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RevTom

December 31st, 2012
12:53 pm

Go Dawgs! Love Coach Richt! Essential to have Laremy Tunsil at left tackle next year!!! http://www.wedgeorgia.com

007

December 31st, 2012
1:02 pm

If you go back & look at the SEC Championship game, we had trouble stopping the run starting in the 2nd quarter. The game was lost because we could not stop Ala run game. The defensive coaches never changed from the 3-4 to stop the run until Ala last possession. Ga loaded the line & Ala was 3 & out. I could have figured that out at the start of the 3rd quarter & they don’t pay me what they pay the DC.

joe jenkins

December 31st, 2012
1:14 pm

I think nebraska will win the game because our dl is just to thin now to stop a power rushing attack. I’ve been a dawg fan for 26 years now and this is one of the worst run stopping defense in school history. in 1994 we gave up more a ton of yards and marion swamp fox camphell was the dc. grantham has alot of work to do to become a head coach one day

Jarvis Jones gives Muschamp nightmares

December 31st, 2012
1:56 pm

Joe, you need to have some more faith in the dawgs. Nebraska’s run defense is even worse than ours. Nebraska’s defense was hammered by Ohio State and surrendered 530 yards rushing to Wisconsin. My game plan would be a heavy dose of Gurley with Marshall and Malcome mixed in to get everyone fresh. Then if they eventually start stopping the run, call a deep ball or else a quick pass from Murray. Their offense is good, but their defense is horrific. Also, you talked before the Auburn game about how worried you were about an upset. So I think you are worrying too much.

Jarvis Jones gives Muschamp nightmares

December 31st, 2012
1:58 pm

I think our d-line is decent, but simply lacks depth. Therefore, I would hope Georgia runs the ball a lot and eats the clock to keep the Husker offense off the field more. But either way, their defense is so bad against the run and they aren’t great at throwing the ball either, so I think the dawgs will be okay.

TheTruth

December 31st, 2012
2:17 pm

Columbus Dawg must be a charter member of the Society of the Miserable…

kybodawg

December 31st, 2012
2:18 pm

hmm. 7 pro teams fired there coach today. let the saban countdown begin.

Athens

December 31st, 2012
2:33 pm

@Goldentool

How old are you?………

RHall55

December 31st, 2012
3:42 pm

Columbus Dawg,,,,you have some bulbs missing in your brain….stating that Will Friend was such a good hire…he inherited most of the OL that has played for him while missing out on Brandon Shell, Vadal Alexander, Brandon Greene, Jessemen Dunker, Brandon Hill, Avery Young, Antonio Richardson, Max Garcia, Trenton Brown, and more could be named…in my opinion the worst recruiting OL Coach in SEC…you want to win a NC, please start looking @ that issue!!

woof

December 31st, 2012
3:46 pm

Zander has done an exemplerary job filling in for Hall. Come back Aaron..Offense will be loaded.
Defense will surprise many next year….

woof

December 31st, 2012
3:48 pm

Congrats to Blair Walsh on a record breaking rookie season.
had 3 out of 4 GREAT years for the Dawgs and will always be appreciated by the true fans.
Win or lose, bad or good…..always support the Dawgs that sweat it out on the field for all of us.

so far so good

December 31st, 2012
3:51 pm

Don’t look now, but the “dream team” are going to be juniors and redshirt sophomores next season.
Time for all of them step up as leaders of this team. Or get out of the way so others can.

Watching the USC/GT Game

December 31st, 2012
4:12 pm

As a Dawg Fan, one thing that scares me is the highlight they did on Matt Barkley. They emphasized how he came back for his senior season to win a National Championship.

Not only did USC go from No 1 Preseason to unranked, but lost 5 games in the regular season and Barkley’s college career was ended in the UCLA game when he got hurt on a sack.

Reminds me of the decision that Aaron Murray has to make. Hope he comes back, but must admit there is a lot of risk for him in doing so and staying won’t improve his status being that the knock against him is height. He is not going to grow any more, so you almost have to sell a stock at its peak.

DawgFan

December 31st, 2012
4:20 pm

Welcome back Merritt. However, I thought Zander gave our offense a real spark and blocks better on the perimeter.

chc4

December 31st, 2012
4:40 pm

I hope to never see Devin Bowman on the field again unless it’s special teams. That guy is roadkill in coverage.

sflanagan21

December 31st, 2012
4:41 pm

Tech is beating USC, we could have put up 70 on Tech. USC ran with ND and would have prolly won if Wittek would not have thrown 2 picks. So for anyone who thinks that ND stands a chance against Bama, your nuts! The NC game was played in the SEC CG, can’t wait till the playoffs start in 14′!

Not worried one bit about our D line or our D against Nebraska! Martinez will be lucky to make it out of the first half in one piece! 42-10 GO DAWGS

Mark (another one)

December 31st, 2012
5:26 pm

Drew started off as a linebacker and has moved to end. Now that he’s playing end consistently, I expect him to step up. My concern is Jones ankle. I’d like to see him get on the field one more time for the red and black. Abry Jones, DGD!

DawgFan

December 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

RHall55

The o-line coach doesn’t recruit all of the o-line recruits. The coaches recruit geographically. Coach Friend has done a fantastic job considering these last 2 yrs we have pretty much cobbled together lines from mismatched pieces. Lot of talented lineman but not a true Left Tackle in the bunch. Time will tell with regard to your recruiting point but I do think we are deeper and better coached than during the Searels years.

Gamer Dawg

December 31st, 2012
6:33 pm

He may be a good defender, but how good is Rambo at “Space Bacon Bulldog”? Could he beat that kid in this game?

iPhone – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-bacon-bulldog-mini/id581465795

or iPad
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-bacon-bulldog/id581411773

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 31st, 2012
6:58 pm

Coach Richt you think Maybe DREW isn’t getting good coaching? he needs to step up but maybe he is doing as good as he has been taught.

[...] Notebook: Merritt Hall back in rotation at fullback, Abry Jones questionable [...]

zbulldawg

January 1st, 2013
9:00 am

Let THE BIG DAWG EAT

Holy Guacamole

January 1st, 2013
12:58 pm

I know that this is an UGA blog, but congrats to Tech for humbling USC. Not to beat a dead horse, but I further wish that UGA had gotten into the national champ bowl game because if Tech beat USC 21-7 and Notre Dame only beat them 22-13, then Tech and Notre Dame must be about equal. Bama, or any one of 5 teams or more in the country (Bama, UGA, FLA, KState or Oregon) could beat Notre Dame like a drum.