Archive for the ‘Focal’ Category

Grantham says he’s staying at UGA

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who interviewed Thursday for a job as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator, said Friday night that he has taken himself out of the running and will remain at UGA.

“I want to thank (coach) Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints organization for the opportunity to interview and get to know them. They are a first-class organization in every respect,” Grantham said in a prepared statement. “As I said Wednesday, Georgia is a great place, my family loves it here, and I do as well.

“This is where our heart is, and today and I have withdrawn my name from consideration for the position with the Saints. I’m excited to start preparations for another season and along with the rest of our defensive staff look forward to coaching some really good returning players as well as developming some very talented newcomers.”

Grantham, a former longtime NFL assistant, has been Georgia’s defensive coordinator for the past three …

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Headline: UGA Blog has moved to a new page; come visit and remember to bookmark!

No, we didn’t quit covering Georgia. We’ve just had a little digital format change and our UGA Blog and daily coverage has shifted to another place.

Beginning now, this blog is moving to a new home within AJC Sports. In fact, we’ve already got news posted over there, such as THIS POST on what Virginia Tech’s recent overtures will mean for Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

We are making some other changes that we hope the members of this blog community will enjoy. Game stories, features and articles and player profiles will move from the blogs into our sports news pages. The blog will focus on the issues you and others are talking about, with opinion and analysis front and center.

Readers will now be asked to register before posting comments in the blogs and stories. We value the spirited discussion and debate, and believe this change will improve the interactivity for everyone.

Bookmarks and RSS feeds: If you visit the blog from a bookmark or use an RSS reader, …

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In retrospect, maybe Hugh Durham hasn’t been honored enough

Georgia made 12 postseason appearances -- including its only Final Four in 1983 -- in 17 seasons under coach Hugh Durham. He and the '83 team wil be recognized before Saturday's game against Mississippi State. (AJC photo)

Georgia made 12 postseason appearances — including its only Final Four in 1983 — in 17 seasons under coach Hugh Durham. He and the '83 team wil be recognized before Saturday's game against Mississippi State. (AJC photo)

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its historic run, Georgia’s 1983 Final Four basketball team will be back in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday. So will its coach.

Hugh Durham is 75 years old now and long since retired. In fact, he has been away from Georgia for as long now as he was its basketball coach. Seventeen years it has been, and the longer Durham has been gone the more the Bulldogs have come to appreciate him.

What has become increasingly evident since Durham was forced out in 1995 – the Dogs were 18-10 that year, if you can believe it – is winning basketball at Georgia is hard. Just ask the six coaches that have had the job since Durham was ousted because he wasn’t winning enough.

The latest among those to try is Mark Fox, who is finding the …

Continue reading In retrospect, maybe Hugh Durham hasn’t been honored enough »

Wrap-up with Richt: Bulldogs plan to be among elite teams again in 2013

A quick wrap-up on Georgia coach Mark Richt’s end-of-the-football-season wrap-up with reporters on Thursday.

1. On whether the Bulldogs can be among elite teams again next year . . .

“We plan on being that. We hope to be that. We’ve got to earn that. Know one really knew what ws going to happen this past season. There were some big question marks a year ago, mostly offensively and offensive line probably more so than any other position, and running back as well. That’s all I answered questions on. . . . By the end of the year they came through. So more questions will asked of the defensive side of the ball this year. So those guys have to do their thing and be able to come through.”

2. On early signs of progress for the Bulldogs’ 13 early enrollees . . .

“They’re almost a class unto themselves. There are 13 of them and last year, what did we have, 15? So it’s a really large number of midyear guys. . . . I told them to look out for wach other and help each other. They’re doing …

Continue reading Wrap-up with Richt: Bulldogs plan to be among elite teams again in 2013 »

NG Kwame Geathers becomes UGA’s third junior to declare for NFL draft

Kwame Geathers had 40 tackles, five tackles for loss and a sack while starting four games for the Bulldogs this past season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Kwame Geathers had 40 tackles, five tackles for loss and a sack while starting four games for the Bulldogs this past season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

On the day Georgia landed its new defensive line coach, the Bulldogs lost their most important defensive lineman.

Kwame Geathers, a 6-foot-6, 355-pound rising senior and four-game starter at noseguard, informed UGA coaches on Wednesday he intends to enter the NFL draft this year.

“That was the speculation since the bowl game, obviously, but nothing was in writing,” said Chris Wilson, who was officially announced as the Bulldogs’ defensive line coach Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t get a chance to meet the  young man but I know he was one heck of a player watching him from afar. I had yet to get a chance to sit down with him. But it’s one of those deals where you want what’s best for the young man. If him and his family feels that’s the best thing, you wish them the best of luck.”

Wilson had to deal with similar decisions …

Continue reading NG Kwame Geathers becomes UGA’s third junior to declare for NFL draft »

UGA makes it official: Chris Wilson hired as D-line coach

ATHENS – As I reported a few of days ago, Georgia targeted Chris Wilson, co-defensive coordinator at Mississippi State the past three seasons, as its new defensive line coach. The Bulldogs finally made it official late Wednesday afternoon with their formal announcement of his hiring (see below).

Wilson replaces Rodney Garner, who left UGA after 15 years of service on Dec. 21 to return to Auburn, his alma mater. I had a chance to talk to Garner just yesterday and he gives Wilson his hardy endorsement.

Wilson

Wilson

“Great guy,” Garner said. “Good family man, good coach, good recruiter. He’ll do a good job.”

I’m not sure what else Garner would say but there you have it.

In any case, following is UGA’s official release. I’ll try to catch up with Wilson again as soon as possible and tell yoou more about him. He wasn’t able to say much last time I talked to him, between Georgia having not announced it yet and him being between meetings at the AFCA Convention in Nashville. In the meantime, …

Continue reading UGA makes it official: Chris Wilson hired as D-line coach »

QB Aaron Murray explains his decision to remain at Georgia

ATHENS – Aaron Murray said he knew he wanted to return to Georgia for his senior season “as soon as the clock hit zero” in the SEC Championship game. The rest of the time he spent validating in his head what was already in his heart.

Murray announced via Twitter this past Sunday night that he was indeed going to complete his eligibility with the Bulldogs. On Tuesday he met with reporters at UGA’s Butts-Mehre football complex to explain his decision.

Aaron Murray hoist the MVP trophy after his four-touchdown passing performance in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Aaron Murray hoist the MVP trophy after his four-touchdown passing performance in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

“I pretty much knew all along deep down inside that I wanted to come back,” Murray said. Obviously I didn’t want to base my decision on emotion. I wanted that SEC game to go by a little bit before I made my decision. After that game, I was like, ‘I’m coming back, I’m coming back.’ So I really needed to let that game go, play another game, clear my head and write down the pros and …

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Bulldogs finish with Top 5 rankings in both polls

The Georgia Bulldogs finished with a Top 5 ranking in both The Associated Press and coaches’ final polls released early Tuesday. But the Bulldogs remained behind Notre Dame, which lost to Alabama 42-14 in the BCS national championship game Monday night.

Georgia (12-2) finished in a tie for fifth with Texas A&M in the AP poll, which is a compilation of media votes. Notre Dame (12-1) was fourth. The Bulldogs were fourth in the USA Today coaches’ poll, one spot behind the Fighting Irish.

This represents the third time under coach Mark Richt the Bulldogs’ have closed out a season with a Top 5 ranking. They were No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002. It’s Georgia’s sixth Top 10 final ranking under Richt, including 2003 (7), 2004 (7), 2005 (10) and 2008 (10). It’s the 18th time overall UGA has finished ranked among the AP top 10.

Alabama secured its third BCS title in the last four years Monday night in Miami to finish No. 1. Oregon (12-1)  was second in both polls and Ohio State was …

Continue reading Bulldogs finish with Top 5 rankings in both polls »

Murray bypasses NFL draft to stay at UGA (updated w/ Richt reaction)

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray ended the speculation Sunday night about whether he’s staying in school or going to the NFL. He’s staying, Murray announced via Twitter.

“Blessed to be the QB for the Dawgs, not ready to leave just yet,” Murray tweeted to his 64,000-plus followers. “Time to get back to work & help lead this team to a championship.”

Murray could not be immediately reached for further comment, and UGA made no official announcement of his decision. (UPDATE: Georgia coach Mark Richt reacted to Murray’s decision in a statement Monday morning: “I’m certainly pleased that after weighing his options Aaron has decided to remain at Georgia for his senior year. His leadership and productivity have been tremendous during what has been an outstanding career. This is great for Aaron and great for Georgia.”)

A three-year starter for the Bulldogs, Murray had been weighing whether to return for his final season of college eligibility or to enter the 2013 NFL draft.

He said …

Continue reading Murray bypasses NFL draft to stay at UGA (updated w/ Richt reaction) »

Mississippi State’s Chris Wilson accepts UGA’s offer to become defensive line coach

ATHENS –It’s not really a secret, nor is it official, but all indications are that Chris Wilson will  become Georgia’s new defensive line coach in the coming days.

Wilson, who is currently defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Mississippi State, met with head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham this past week and agreed in general terms to replacing Rodney Garner as the Bulldogs’ defensive line coach. But Wilson’s hiring cannot become official until the job opening has been posted for the minimum amount of time and Wilson has cleared UGA’s background check.

Chris Wilson, Mississippi State's co-defensive coordinator the past three years, accepted Georgia's offer to succeed Rodney Garner as defensive line coach. (Photo by Mansel Guerry/Mississippi State)

Chris Wilson, Mississippi State's co-defensive coordinator the past three years, accepted Georgia's offer to succeed Rodney Garner as defensive line coach. (Photo by Mansel Guerry/Mississippi State)

“Nothing is official and it won’t be until Georgia completes the background checks and their official deal,” said Wilson, reached by phone Sunday in Nashville, where he is attending the …

Continue reading Mississippi State’s Chris Wilson accepts UGA’s offer to become defensive line coach »

It’s official: UGA all-star linebacker Jarvis Jones to enter NFL draft as junior

ATHENS – Jarvis Jones is turning pro.

Not that anybody didn’t already know that. The junior outside linebacker has been projected as high as No. 1 in the April NFL if he chose to forgo his senior season. But it wasn’t until late Friday evening that Claude Felton, UGA’s director of sports communications, confirmed the news via Jones. Felton said Georgia is not planning a formal news conference at this point.

Jones issued a statement through UGA:

“This has been a difficult decision, and one that I have talked over with my family and coaches. I want to thank my family, teammates, coaches and support staff and the Bulldog Nation for everything over the last three years. I will always appreciate the chance Georgia gave me after my injury at Southern Cal. There is nothing like the Bulldog fans and I will forever be proud to wear the ‘G’. I think this decision comes at the right time for me and my family and I look forward to seeing what the next level holds for me. Go …

Continue reading It’s official: UGA all-star linebacker Jarvis Jones to enter NFL draft as junior »

Mark Richt: Rebuilding Dogs’ defense doesn’t mean setback in 2013

Cornerback Damian Swann, here celebrating after his second interception in the Capital One Bowl, is one of the reasons for optimism for Georgia's defense in 2013. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Cornerback Damian Swann, here celebrating after his second interception in the Capital One Bowl, is one of the reasons for optimism for Georgia's defense in 2013. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Georgia won 12 football games this season for the just the third time in the 120-year history of the program. So that is definitely a milestone to celebrate, and the Bulldogs did just that after beating Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

But there was also a sense of what might have been as Georgia players scattered and made their way back to their homes for a short respite before classes resume on Monday. In the hours immediately after the game, the 2012 Bulldogs boasted “we believe we can beat anybody in the country” and “we still think we’re one of the best teams in the nation.”

Alas, they’ll watch the BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame on television just like everybody else come Monday.

Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked if, despite …

Continue reading Mark Richt: Rebuilding Dogs’ defense doesn’t mean setback in 2013 »

UPDATED: MVP Aaron Murray leads Georgia to 45-31 win over Nebraska in Capital One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aaron Murray would not say whether he had played his last game as a Georgia Bulldog – Alec Ogletree did, by the way – but whatever he decides he knows he’ll go into his next season off a win for a change.

Murray, a junior who is contemplating early entry into the NFL set a Georgia bowl record with five touchdown passes and threw for 427 yards overall to earn Capital One Bowl MVP honors and lead the No. 7 Bulldogs to a 45-31 come-from-behind victory over Nebraska Tuesday at Citrus Bowl Stadium. Murray was at the offensive controls as Georgia lost its previous two bowl games.

“It was an awesome game and I’m definitely very excited to get a win,” said Murray, who also set Georgia’s single-season passing record with 3,544 yards. “I don’t know what it feels like to go into an offseason with a win, so that in itself feels great. But it was great to get a win for these seniors and great to get 12 wins. As for the future, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just …

Continue reading UPDATED: MVP Aaron Murray leads Georgia to 45-31 win over Nebraska in Capital One Bowl »

Georgia, Nebraska each seek motivational edge in Capital One Bowl

Georgia's Aaron Murray seeks his first bowl victory as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback. He's 0-2 entering Tuesday's the Capital One Bowl. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia's Aaron Murray seeks his first bowl victory as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback. He's 0-2 entering Tuesday's the Capital One Bowl. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Crazy things tend to happen in bowl games and they are notoriously hard to predict. But generally if you can identify the most motivated team you will have identified the eventual winner.

Good luck trying to do that with Georgia and Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.

The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) are coming off a devastating SEC Championship loss in which they literally finished five yards short of a BCS championship berth. On the same day hundreds of miles away in Indianapolis, the Cornhuskers (10-3) suffered arguably their most humiliating defeat in the history of the program. They gave up 539 yards rushing in falling to Wisconsin 70-31 in the Big Ten Conference championship.

With Georgia locked out of a BCS bowl opportunity and Nebraska embarrassed in its last game, it could be …

Continue reading Georgia, Nebraska each seek motivational edge in Capital One Bowl »

Georgia’s Jarvis Jones motivated by prospect of becoming a No. 1 draft pick

Jarvis Jones and teammates celebrate after his strip of Florida's Jordan Reed clinched the Bulldogs' victory. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Jarvis Jones and teammates celebrate after his strip of Florida's Jordan Reed clinched the Bulldogs' victory. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

ORLANDO, Fla. – When you ask Jarvis Jones whether it’s important to him to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, you start to get an idea where his head is at regarding making an early jump for the pros.

No, Jones still has not said definitively whether he’ll be leaving Georgia after this, his junior, year. But seeing how he is projected as a consensus top five selection by the most respected draft analysts, it’s generally thought to be a foregone conclusion that the two-time All-American will go ahead take the NFL millions now. Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft.

But being the top overall pick is clearly something about which Jones has given some sincere thought. Asked if it was important to him to be selected No. 1, Jones answers the question with a question.

“Has there ever been a defensive …

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Georgia’s Marlon Brown: ‘Never unlucky, never unfortunate, just blessed’

Georgia senior receiver Marlon Brown was on his way to a huge season when a season-ending knee injury in the ninth game cut it short. He finished with 469 yards on the season and 851 and eight touchdowns in his career. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia senior receiver Marlon Brown was on his way to a huge season when a season-ending knee injury in the ninth game cut it short. He finished with 469 yards on the season and 851 and eight touchdowns in his career. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Q&A WITH MARLON BROWN

ORLANDO, Fla. – There are some out there who might say that Marlon Brown’s career was a disappointment, that he didn’t live up to expectations. A 5-star signee out of Memphis, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver never earned even All-SEC honorable mention honors or had 500 yards receiving in a season. But it could be argued that there is not a more beloved teammate among the Georgia Bulldogs than Brown, whose attitude on and off the field permeates everything he does.

Nowhere was that more evident than on Nov. 3 when Brown suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the third quarter against Ole Miss. Brown, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver at the time, was in the midst of a huge game. He’d just made his third catch …

Continue reading Georgia’s Marlon Brown: ‘Never unlucky, never unfortunate, just blessed’ »

Georgia has a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Nebraska in Capital One Bowl

Georgia's Keith Marshall breaks loose on a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. The freshman tailback has less yards rushing than Todd Gurley but led the Bulldogs in runs of more than 50 yards. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Keith Marshall breaks loose on a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. The freshman tailback has less yards rushing than Todd Gurley but led the Bulldogs in runs of more than 50 yards. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ORLANDO, Fla. — After Todd Gurley ran for 1,260 yards this season – and 122 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in the SEC Championship game – the tendency is to think that fellow freshman Keith Marshall is a less valuable back for Georgia at this stage in his young career.

Marshall had just two carries against Alabama. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo insisted Saturday that Marshall remains more of a 1-B option to Gurley. Injuries and extenuating circumstances, he said, had more to do with Marshall’s reduced presence toward the end of the season than Gurley’s special talents.

“(Marshall) did not get as many touches in the Alabama game, but that’s just how the game went and how the other guy was running the ball,” Bobo said during a Capital One …

Continue reading Georgia has a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Nebraska in Capital One Bowl »

With personnel in flux, Dogs’ defense must guard against distractions

ORLANDO, Fla. – Georgia players say the biggest difference is when they’re on the practice field. That’s when they notice Rodney Garner is not there screaming at the top of his lungs. That’s when it’s evident that Big John Jenkins is not out there laughing and joking around with his teammates.

The rest of it, they insist, is business as usual.

As the Bulldogs prepare for Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl matchup with Nebraska, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is great potential for distraction. Forget the fun and sun of Orlando and its enormous array of amusement parks. Between coaches leaving (Garner to Auburn), players losing eligibility (Jenkins) and others contemplating early entry into the NFL draft (Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Kwame Geathers), this could be one pack of discombobulated Dogs by the time they kick off against the Cornhuskers on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

“A lot of situations have occurred from the last game to now,” said Jones, a junior who projects as …

Continue reading With personnel in flux, Dogs’ defense must guard against distractions »

Bowl update: Status quo for Georgia’s offensive line after all (UPDATED)

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Here are some quick hits from Georgia and Nebraska’s preparations for the Capital One Bowl. There is a news conference this afternoon featuring Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones and both coordinators. Check back for more updates.

THE BIG NEWS

Heading into bowl practices back in Athens, with the 32-28 loss to Alabama still fresh on their conscious, Georgia coaches declared a full-scale open competition on the offensive line. But as the workouts phase from competition to walk-through stage here at the bowl site, it looks like the Bulldogs will line up pretty much the same way.

“I think we’ll probably be like we were toward the end of the season,” Georgia line coach Will Friend said before Saturday’s practice at Celebration High School. “We had good practices in Athens and we had good practices here. They got to compete every day and I thought it was good to kind of open it up. But it’ll be pretty much like we ended the season.”

One of the reasons the Bulldogs opened up …

Continue reading Bowl update: Status quo for Georgia’s offensive line after all (UPDATED) »

Notebook: Abry Jones plans to play in bowl, Alec Ogletree mum on NFL (UPDATED)

ORLANDO, Fla. – How much Abry Jones can play against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday will come down to whether his body can pull off what his heart wants him to do.

Jones, a senior and starting defensive end for Georgia, has been out for the last nine weeks following ankle surgery. He returned to practice in a mostly-unlimited capacity this week and has been cleared to play in the game.

But there is definitely reservation in Jones’ voice when he talks about returning to the field for the first time since the seventh game of the season.

“I’m trying to,” Jones said of playing in the game. “I’ve been moving around a little bit. . . . It’s my senior year and I missed so much and I just want to play one more game with the fellas. If I feel confident enough and they let me play, I’m going to play. That’s what I want to do. But it’s just how I feel pretty much.”

Jones estimated he is about “75 to 85” percent recovered from the left ankle injury suffered against Kentucky …

Continue reading Notebook: Abry Jones plans to play in bowl, Alec Ogletree mum on NFL (UPDATED) »

Georgia’s ‘Dream Team’ recruiting class goes for 22nd win in Capital One Bowl

ORLANDO – Because of what happened with Isaiah Crowell, there is a tendency to think Georgia’s recruiting class of 2011 – better known as the “Dream Team” – was anything but dreamy.

Crowell, the No. 1-rated running back in the nation coming out of high school, was the crown jewel of that class. But after earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors, Crowell was unable to make it to a second season with Georgia. He was dismissed this past summer after his arrest on felony weapons charges.

But there were a lot of other elite prospects who signed in that 2011 class, which was rated among the top five in the nation of that year, and most remain prominent members of the 2012 team. Together they’ve helped the Bulldogs win 21 games and two SEC Eastern Division championship the past two seasons.

“We’re still here; we’re still standing strong,” said Malcolm Mitchell, a wide receiver from Valdosta who has 1,237 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns since becoming a Bulldog. “A lot of us came in …

Continue reading Georgia’s ‘Dream Team’ recruiting class goes for 22nd win in Capital One Bowl »

Georgia’s John Jenkins out for bowl game due to academics

Georgia will be without one of its most formidable defensive weapons when it plays Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1.

John Jenkins, a senior who started all 13 games at noseguard for the Bulldogs, was unable to meet academic requirements to maintain his eligibility for the bowl game. Georgia coach Mark Richt shared that news with reporters after the team convened at the Renaissance Orlando Hotel Wednesday evening.

“John Jenkins will not be coming to the bowl due to an academic-related issue,” Richt told reporters. “I think John Jenkins has been awesome for Georgia. I’ve been really proud of what he’s accomplished for us and just really want to wish him the very best  because he’s been a blessing to our program.”

Jenkins has sat out bowl practices and been listed with a concussion since the Bulldogs returned to action following final exams on Dec. 12. Richt was asked this past Thursday if the Bulldogs suffered any academic casualties after fall semester but …

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Sheldon Dawson, Jonathan Taylor, Blake Tibbs among Bulldogs waiting in the wings

ATHENS – The reality of college football is only 11 players can be on the field at any one time and rarely do more than 50 play in a given game. So with an 85-scholarship maximum, there are always going to be a number of talented athletes not seeing any game action.

This is the time of year coaches start to focus on those players. With a month between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, teams are able to take a closer look at athletes that have been waiting in the wings for their opportunities to play. So for the Bulldogs the 15 practices since the SEC Championship game has been as much about preparing for the future as it has been preparing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl.

“We’ve got some talented guys on our campus and more that we’re recruiting,” Georgia coach Mark Richt. “We’re going to find out what they can do.”

The Bulldogs had a small signing class in 2012 and have a small roster overall. They ended up redshirting only …

Continue reading Sheldon Dawson, Jonathan Taylor, Blake Tibbs among Bulldogs waiting in the wings »

Who’s top Dog all-time in games played? Tavarres King, UGA says

Wide receiver Tavarres King has played in more football games for Georgia than anyone else in school history. The Capital One Bowl will be his 56th — and his last.

“The time flew by,” King said recently. “It feels like just yesterday I was getting dropped off by my parents over there at ECV (East Campus Village).”

King has squeezed about as much into his college career as possible. He graduated early from Habersham Central High School and enrolled at UGA in January 2008. He played in the first four games of the ’08 season before a season-ending ankle injury resulted in a medical redshirt. He played in 12 games in 2009, 12 in 2010 and 14 in 2011, and the Jan. 1 bowl game against Nebraska will be his 14th this season.

UGA confirmed it all adds up to a school career record for games played, and it will be a tough number to top because King played the maximum games allowed in a medical redshirt season.

Tavarres King had 205 receiving yards in last season's Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State. (AP photo)

Tavarres King had 205 receiving yards in last season's Outback Bowl vs. …

Continue reading Who’s top Dog all-time in games played? Tavarres King, UGA says »

Hutson Mason bides his time as Georgia’s ‘QB-in-waiting’

Hutson Mason hasn't played much during his three seasons in Athens, but the Bulldogs like what they've seen. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Hutson Mason hasn't played much during his three seasons in Athens, but the Bulldogs like what they've seen. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — There has been much debate at the end of 2012 about whether or not Aaron Murray will – or should – turn pro after the season concludes. But there has been no debate whatsoever about who will play quarterback for Georgia if and when Murray makes that jump.

Hutson Mason is unchallenged as the Bulldogs’ heir apparent. In fact, so set is the plan for succession, there is no need for the word “apparent.” Better to call him “QB-in-waiting.”

So confident are Georgia’s coaches and players in Mason’s abilities, they speak of him in the same reverent tones as a seasoned starter.

“When he gets the opportunity he’s going to make some plays, I have no doubt about that,” junior tight end Arthur Lynch said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback. “I’m positive about that and I think Aaron would be the first to tell you that as well. I think …

Continue reading Hutson Mason bides his time as Georgia’s ‘QB-in-waiting’ »

UPDATED: Football assistant Rodney Garner leaving Georgia ‘to get Auburn back on track’

Rodney Garner has served as Georgia's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for 15 years. He has been Mark Richt's assistant head coach since 2005. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Rodney Garner has served as Georgia's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for 15 years. He has been Mark Richt's assistant head coach since 2005. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – In the end, Rodney Garner felt like he could no longer ignore his alma mater’s calls for help.

Garner, Georgia’s assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the past 12 years, accepted an offer to handle the same jobs at Auburn, where he played offensive line and started his coaching career. He will also receive a significant salary increase from the $300,000 a year he earned with the Bulldogs.

But as Garner adamantly pointed out in an exclusive interview with the AJC Thursday night, “this is not about the money.”

“It was a very difficult decision,” Garner said. “I’ve been approached many times about this opportunity. But it’s my alma mater. It may be more of a pride thing, just looking at where they are right now and feeling like I …

Continue reading UPDATED: Football assistant Rodney Garner leaving Georgia ‘to get Auburn back on track’ »

Notebook: Abry Jones probable for bowl game, but injuries abound for Bulldogs

By Ryan Black
For the AJC

ATHENS – Though Georgia’s injury list has continued to grow since the end of the SEC Championship game, one key defender may be on the verge of returning.

Defensive end Abry Jones injured his left ankle on the first drive of Georgia’s victory over Kentucky on Oct. 20 and has not played since. But the senior from Warner Robins has continued to rehab the injury, and after seeing how well he ran Thursday, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt felt optimistic about Jones’ chances of playing in the Capital One Bowl.

“It’s definitely a possibility; I think it’s more of a probability now, just watching him run today,” Richt said following Thursday’s practice. “I think today gave him more confidence, because he was running pretty hard. He’s not in the best condition right this minute, but he ran about as fast as he could and felt good. I was going from one drill to the other — from the defensive field to the offensive field — and I saw him flashing across there. . . . He …

Continue reading Notebook: Abry Jones probable for bowl game, but injuries abound for Bulldogs »

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 …

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

Georgia looks to shore up run defense before taking on Nebraska’s ‘Big Red Machine’

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree racked up a lot of tackles against Alabama (11), but too often it was not at or near the lilne of scrimmage. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree racked up a lot of tackles against Alabama (11), but too often it was not at or near the lilne of scrimmage. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

ATHENS -- For all the adoration heaped upon Georgia’s defense and its cavalcade of all-star players this season, it hasn’t been all that good at the one thing considered a cornerstone of being great – stopping the run.

The fact is, the Bulldogs exited the 2012 regular season ranked among the bottom third in the nation in rush defense. They’ve given up an averaged 177.77 yards per game, which is 77th among 120 FBS teams.

Most notably, the last time we saw it in action, the Georgia defense gave up 350 yards on the ground to Alabama in the SEC Championship. For all the debate about whether the Bulldogs should have spiked the ball or not in the closing seconds, it could be argued the inability to stop the run is the reason they lost the game 32-28.

“Some of it was just wrapping them up better,” Georgia coach …

Continue reading Georgia looks to shore up run defense before taking on Nebraska’s ‘Big Red Machine’ »

Mark Richt puts end to debate; Malcolm Mitchell to play offense only

ATHENS – The Malcolm Mitchell debate is a debate no more.

Mark Richt put an abrupt end to the speculation over what the sophomore’s role on the team will be going forward.

“What do I think (his role) is going to be? Wide receiver,” Richt said matter-of-factly after Tuesday’s practice. “I doubt he plays any more corner.”

Mitchell, a sophomore who played both cornerback and split end this season, expressed mixed emotions recently about continuing his career as a two-way player. Meanwhile, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham each said this week they’d like to have him full-time on their respective sides of the ball, but ultimately deferred to Richt.

Richt was able to weigh in on it publically for the first time on Tuesday, and he didn’t pussyfoot around the issue.

“I just think he needs to play one position,” he said. “. . . If he’s going to be the best he can be at either position, I think he needs to concentrate on just one of them, …

Continue reading Mark Richt puts end to debate; Malcolm Mitchell to play offense only »