Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Georgia-Vanderbilt game time set

The Georgia-Vanderbilt football game on Sept. 22 in Sanford Stadium will start at 7:45 p.m. and be nationally televised on ESPN2, the SEC said today.

That will be Georgia’s third consecutive night game, following last week’s at Missouri (which also was televised on ESPN2) and this week’s against Florida Atlantic in Athens (7:30 p.m. Saturday on CSS).

Also today — no surprise here — the SEC named Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones the league’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the victory over Missouri.  Jones already had been named the National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

More UGA coverage:

Continue reading Georgia-Vanderbilt game time set »

Accolades follow Jarvis Jones’ performance against Missouri

After weeks of chatter about the four suspended defensive players who would not be on the field for Georgia’s SEC opener at Missouri, the topic of conversation in the game’s aftermath turned to one who did play, linebacker Jarvis Jones.

Georgia coach Mark Richt called Jones “maybe the best defensive player in America.” The Walter Camp Football Foundation named him the national defensive player of the week. UPDATE: Jones was also named SEC defensive player of the week on Monday. Even Braves third baseman Chipper Jones chimed in, posting to his 145,000-plus Twitter followers: “Jarvis Jones is a monster! Shocker! He is a Jones!”

“I think it was a special game,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Sunday of Jones’ performance. “… He is a special guy that works extremely hard in his preparation. He’s really instinctive. He does a lot of things for us.”

Jones was a force throughout Saturday’s victory over Missouri and punctuated his performance with two huge plays near …

Continue reading Accolades follow Jarvis Jones’ performance against Missouri »

Georgia’s Jarvis Jones ‘may be the best defensive player in America’

By D. Orlando Ledbetter
Staff Writer

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Georgia all-American linebacker Jarvis Jones, playing with a sore groin, came up with two big plays to help the Bulldogs rout Missouri in their first game in Southeastern Conference play.

Jones helped to blow the game open with an interception and a sack in the fourth quarter that led to 14 points in the 41-20 victory on Saturday. He finished with 8 tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and an interception.

The Bulldogs held a 27-20 lead with under nine minutes to play when Jones intercepted a pass at Missouri’s 22 and rumbled down to the 1-yard line. It was the first interception of his career

On the ensuing play, running back Todd Gurley scored a touchdown.

On Missouri’s next possession, Jones sacked Missouri quarterback James Franklin and caused a fumble. Jordan Jenkins recovered the ball at Missouri’s 5-yard line.

Three plays later, Ken Malcome scored on a 6-yard touchdown run.

“He may be the best defensive player in …

Continue reading Georgia’s Jarvis Jones ‘may be the best defensive player in America’ »

SEC openers for league’s newbies makes busy day for Slive

COLUMBIA, Mo. – It was a whirlwind day for SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who participated in the coin toss at the Florida at Texas A&M and Georgia at Missouri games, the first in the league for the new members, on Saturday.

At halftime of the Georgia at Missouri game, Slive spoke with the media about the historic games, the new members and the league’s future television contracts.

Q: What do you think about the job Missouri has done so far?

A: It’s been terrific. When I talked to the Georgia folks they were telling me that the hospitality, the fans and the reception that they’ve received has been as good as they’ve ever had. Also, you can’t walk downtown for five steps without seeing an SEC logo. We like that a lot.

Q: How has Missouri handled the whole transition?

A: Very well. They have done a tremendous job. They have been involved in our governance process even before the official date, which was July 1. They are just a great addition. They have already contributed to what …

Continue reading SEC openers for league’s newbies makes busy day for Slive »

Bulldogs making sure Jarvis Jones doesn’t lose his helmet

COLUMBIA, MO. – You may have noticed that Jarvis Jones’ helmet did not pop off once during Georgia’s opener. That was no accident.

Jones’ helmet popped off a bunch last season. In fact, Jones said a fan recently informed him that he counted and Jones’ helmet came off 26 times in the 2011 season. Jones couldn’t verify that number but said, “I know it happened a lot.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t afford for that to happen this season. The NCAA enacted a rule that dictates that a player whose helmet comes off without being forcibly removed by an opponent has to come out of the game for the next play regardless of the situation.

“I can’t come out of the game, period” the All-American linebacker said. “That can’t happen.”

A few things have helped ensure it doesn’t happen. First off, the Bulldogs aren’t opening the season in Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms. According to UGA equipment manager John Meshad, many of the helmets for Georgia’s season opener against Boise State — including Jones’ — …

Continue reading Bulldogs making sure Jarvis Jones doesn’t lose his helmet »

Missouri, Georgia both amped to play historical SEC opener

COLUMBIA, MO. – People here are calling Saturday night’s Georgia-Missouri game the most anticipated game in the history of Mizzou football.

That’s significant considering the Tigers have played some pretty big games.

  • They’re still talking about the 1960 game against Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium in which No. 1 Missouri lost to the Jayhawks 23-7 (Kansas later had to forfeit for using an ineligible player).
  • In 2003, the Tigers beat Nebraska for the first time since 1978.
  • Mizzou also beat Kansas here in 2007 to become the No. 1-ranked team.
  • Just two years ago, ESPN’s “GameDay” was on hand when it upset No. 1-ranked Oklahoma 36-27 at Faurot Field.

But none of those games, the locals contend, created more buzz than the buildup there has been for tonight’s game. Missouri (1-0) plays host to the No. 7 Bulldogs (1-0) in its first game as a member of the SEC. The Tigers have belonged to the Big 12 — or its previous incarnations of the Big Eight and Big Six — since 1907.

So …

Continue reading Missouri, Georgia both amped to play historical SEC opener »

Richt, Pinkel tenures defy the coaching carousel

ATHENS – When Missouri was seeking a football coach in November 2000, athletic director Mike Alden flew to Tallahassee to interview Florida State’s offensive coordinator.

Mark Richt (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt and his wife were intrigued.

“Katharyn and I heard [Columbia, Mo.] was a great town for family. Just everything we heard about it was positive,” Richt recalled this week. “There were a lot of other things that seemed to be simmering at that time in my life as far as job opportunities, but Missouri is one we thought might be a special place to be.”

It wasn’t to be, of course. Missouri instead hired Toledo coach Gary Pinkel. Several weeks later, after also interviewing with Virginia, Richt was hired by Georgia.

The surprising part, given the turnover rate among college football coaches, is that both Richt and Pinkel remain in the jobs they landed almost 12 years ago. They’ll coach against each other for the first time Saturday night, when Georgia plays at …

Continue reading Richt, Pinkel tenures defy the coaching carousel »

Notebook: Austin Long eager to play major role for offensive line

ATHENSAustin Long grabbed a copy of Wednesday’s injury report from a reporter after practice Wednesday.

“Looks about right,” he said playfully. “Glad my name’s not on it.”

It’s unusual that it’s not. Since he’s been at Georgia, Long has had two back surgeries and at least another half-dozen twists and sprains. As a result, he has reached his junior year having played in just three games, including this past Saturday’s opener.

That’s a far cry from what was expected when he signed with Georgia out of Memphis. He was the No. 2 prospect in the state of Tennessee and a top-5 rated player at his position.

“I never missed a practice or a game like sixth grade through high school,” said the 6-foot-5, 324-pounder. “I played the last six games of my senior year with a broken back.”

Long is expected to make up for lost time this week. At the very least he figures heavily in the Bulldogs’ plans and could end up starting at right tackle against Missouri. Starter John Theus and his main …

Continue reading Notebook: Austin Long eager to play major role for offensive line »

Dogs drop from No. 6 to 7 in AP poll; Bama back to No. 1

ATHENS – Georgia dropped from No. 6 to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, released Tuesday afternoon.

The Bulldogs, who defeated MAC opponent Buffalo 45-23 in the season opener, were leap-frogged by Florida State. The Seminoles beat Murray State 69-3 this past Saturday.

Georgia wasn’t the only team to be overtaken despite a victory. Alabama jumped over USC to occupy the No. 1 spot despite the Trojans’ 49-10 win over Hawaii. The Crimson Tide rolled over then No. 8-ranked 41-14 Saturday night in Texas.

The Tide received 45 first-place votes, up 28 from last week, while USC had 11 first-place votes and No. 3 LSU four.

The AP says it is the 86th time in the 76-year history of the poll that the top-ranked team won and dropped in the rankings. That happened to Georgia when it opened the 2008 season at No. 1. It was all the way down to No. 3 by the time it lost its first game to No. 8 Alabama in Week 4.

Continue reading Dogs drop from No. 6 to 7 in AP poll; Bama back to No. 1 »

Notebook: Bulldogs decline to enter into war of words with Missouri

By Ryan Black
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATHENS — If Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson thought his comments about Georgia or the SEC would bait the Bulldogs into a war of words, he was sadly mistaken.

In fact, Georgia defensive end Abry Jones wasn’t even aware the comments were made by a player until the media informed him Monday evening. Jones initially “thought it was fans posting stuff,” and didn’t have a reaction to Richardson saying he turned off the Buffalo/Georgia game Saturday because “it’s like watching Big Ten football, it’s old man football.”

Jones was more interested in learning what “old man football” entailed.

“We play our football,” he said. “I don’t know what you’d classify as ‘old man football.’ This is college. I don’t know many people over the age of 23 playing football in college, so I don’t know what ‘old man football’ is.”

At Missouri on Monday, Richardson was held out of media day, with team spokesman Chad Moller …

Continue reading Notebook: Bulldogs decline to enter into war of words with Missouri »

Missouri player: UGA plays ‘old-man football’

Missouri does not enter the SEC shyly. Quite the opposite, based on comments by one player.

According to an article in the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune on Sunday, Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was asked after the Tigers’ 62-10 victory over Southeastern Lousiana Saturday night if he watched the Georgia-Buffalo game on television earlier in the day.

“I watched the game. I turned it off, too,” Richardson was quoted as saying. “… It’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.”

Then this: “If we execute, nobody in this league [the SEC] can touch us. Period.”

Missouri, which officially became an SEC member on July 1, opens play in its new league by hosting Georgia at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in sold-out Memorial Stadium.

Georgia coach Mark Richt laughed when informed, on his weekly teleconference with reporters Sunday evening, of Richardson’s comment.

“’Old-man football?’ Well, I don’t know what he meant by that,” Richt said. “But bottom line is, we got to get …

Continue reading Missouri player: UGA plays ‘old-man football’ »

Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense

ATHENS – Georgia’s defense was without five front-line players Saturday — four suspended and one injured — and the rest of the unit didn’t seem completely into the game either.

Georgia, which ranked No. 5 in the nation in total defense last season, allowed Buffalo, No. 80 in total offense last season, first-half scoring drives of 75, 94 and 47 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown drive of 75 yards. The Bulls finished the day with 347 yards total offense, considerably more than Georgia’s defense allowed per game last season (277.2).

The absences of safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Malcolm Mitchell and linebackers Alec Ogletree and Chase Vasser undoubtedly contributed to the defensive doldrums in what nevertheless turned out to be a 45-23 Georgia victory. (Mitchell was out because of a sprained ankle, the others because of suspensions.) Even so, the defense fell well short of expectations against a Mid-American Conference team that went 3-9 last …

Continue reading Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense »

‘Boo’ Malcome first up but, freshman backs ‘ready to give fans what they want’

Ken "Boo" Malcome's steadiness and consistency since the end of last season earned him the start at tailback to open this season. (UGA photo)

Ken "Boo" Malcome's steadiness and consistency since the end of last season earned him the start at tailback to open this season. (UGA photo)

ATHENS – Ken Malcome will start at tailback for Georgia in today’s season opener against Buffalo. But he’s not the player 90,000-plus Bulldogs fans Sanford Stadium are clamoring to see.

That would be the two dynamic freshmen from North Carolina, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

But Malcome earned the job fair and square. His consistent play and tough-running style earned him the nod over the two newbies and grizzled veteran Richard Samuel. But the Bulldogs could not be happier for him for Boo — freshman dynamos included.

“I’m very happy for Ken,” said Marshall, a five-star prospect who was rated the No. 1 running back by ESPN and 24/7 Sports. “I love that dude. He’s kind of like a big brother. He looks out for me and Todd and makes sure we know everything, so I’m happy for him. I hope he does well.”

Said Gurley: “I …

Continue reading ‘Boo’ Malcome first up but, freshman backs ‘ready to give fans what they want’ »

UPDATED: UGA pitcher and former Little League World Series star, arrested on weapons charge

Adds comments from Kyle Carter (12:28 p.m.) . . .

ATHENS — Georgia baseball player Kyle Carter, a freshman pitcher from Columbus and a former Little League World Series star, was arrested earlier this week and charged with simple assault and having a weapon in a school zone.

Carter was arrested by the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s deputies Tuesday morning, booked in the Athens-Clarke County jail at 9:58 a.m. that day and released on $5,000 bond an hour and 21 minutes later. The weapons charge is a felony.

Kyle Carter's booking photo from this past Tuesday morning. (Athens-Clarke County Jail)

Kyle Carter's booking photo from this past Tuesday morning. (Athens-Clarke County Jail)

According to police, Carter’s arrest stemmed from an incident that took place at 2:45 on a.m. on Aug. 19 in the East Commons Village residence hall. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said Friday that Carter threatened with a baseball bat a female unknown to him in his dorm room. The woman had been invited into the room by Carter’s roommate, he said.

“For whatever reason he wanted her to …

Continue reading UPDATED: UGA pitcher and former Little League World Series star, arrested on weapons charge »

Bulldogs believe David Andrews will play big at center

Georgia center David "Boss" Andrews (R) gets dwarfed next to fello linemen such as Watts Dantzler. But line coach and the Bulldogs say he's "plenty big." (UGA photo)

Georgia center David "Boss" Andrews (R) gets dwarfed next to fello linemen such as Watts Dantzler. But line coach and the Bulldogs say he's "plenty big." (UGA photo)

ATHENS — Go ahead. Make fun of David Andrews. Make fun of his height. Call him “Shorty.”

Andrews is used to it. He hears it all the time, including more than occasionally at Georgia’s own football complex. Every once in a while the Bulldogs’ coaches and players might needle him. Andrews says he loves it.

This just in: Andrews knows he’s not very tall. He’s been in front of a mirror. He’s been to the doctor’s office. He knows exactly how tall he is, and it’s not 6-foot-2 like he’s listed on the Bulldogs’ roster.

But that doesn’t bother Andrews, and apparently it doesn’t bother the Bulldogs either. He’s their starting center heading into Saturday’s season opener against Buffalo. And according to those who have watched him up close and seen him compete against nose guards John Jenkins …

Continue reading Bulldogs believe David Andrews will play big at center »

Keith Marshall dazzles teammate: ‘He shook two people … both fell down’

Freshman Keith Marshall has been wowing his coaches and teammates with his moves in the open field. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Freshman Keith Marshall has been wowing his coaches and teammates with his moves in the open field. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

ATHENS – Linebacker Christian Robinson’s enthusiastic account of a play in a recent practice probably will heighten Georgia fans’ anticipation of freshman tailback Keith Marshall’s debut Saturday.

“Keith put a move on somebody the other day that I hadn’t seen in a while,” Robinson said Tuesday. “He shook two people, and they both fell down. That’s pretty special to me because I haven’t seen somebody just blatantly fall down because someone did a move on them.

“Literally, he was untouched. He was running in the middle of the field and made two guys fall and then outran somebody to the pylon. That type of talent, I haven’t seen that in a while. … I’d like to see that in a real game. I think that’d get people excited.”

Robinson said the last Georgia player with “that type of juking ability” was probably wide receiver A.J. Green.

Robinson had high …

Continue reading Keith Marshall dazzles teammate: ‘He shook two people … both fell down’ »

Malcolm Mitchell looks forward to playing dual role

Malcolm Mitchell has no intentions of looking to the past.

On Monday, he admitted his decision to move from wide receiver to cornerback in the spring bothered him at first. But the point of no return has long come and gone.

“That was a choice that I’m not going to deal with right now,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to work out good for me. When I look at the receivers, I know that I’m going to be back over there eventually. Or I’ll be doing both [playing offense and defense]. So as long as I can do both, it doesn’t matter.”

Mitchell said he got back to running routes with receivers on Saturday, enjoying taking reps with his former unit. Its significance, or lack thereof, was something Mitchell couldn’t answer.

“I have no idea,” he said of the coaching staff’s plans for him. “What they’re doing, I have no clue.”

The rest of the receiving corps has taken a nonchalant view of Mitchell’s situation. Yes, they want him back on offense. But they don’t believe they need him. …

Continue reading Malcolm Mitchell looks forward to playing dual role »

UGA’s Jarryd Wallace ready to make a run at 2012 Paralympic Games in London

Jarryd Wallace practices his block work uder the watchful eye of personal coach Ross Ridgewell, his former track teammate at UGA. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin

Jarryd Wallace practices his block work under the watchful eye of personal coach Ross Ridgewell, his former track teammate at UGA. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

NOTE: This story is running in Sunday’s print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There is some bonus material at the end of the story.

ATHENS – Jarryd Wallace is not what you’d call a time waster. This is particularly useful considering he is in the business of accomplishing certain tasks quickly.

Wallace, you see, is a world-class runner. But his most impressive accomplishment to date has been more in the area of goal-setting.

The 22-year-old from Athens currently is in London preparing to run in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Wallace is one of 55 U.S. track athletes to qualify for the 11-day games, which begin Wednesday. He’ll compete in the 400-meter dash and as an alternate for the 4×100-meter relay team. If all goes well, Wallace will run Sept. 5, 7 and 8.

What makes that accomplishment even …

Continue reading UGA’s Jarryd Wallace ready to make a run at 2012 Paralympic Games in London »

After ‘waiting my turn,’ Dogs’ Damian Swann ready to produce

ATHENS – After a quiet freshman season last year, Georgia cornerback Damian Swann is looking forward to making some noise.

A celebrated member of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super 11 team in high school, Swann played sparingly last season at a well-stocked position. But with the graduation of three-year starter Brandon Boykin and the two-game suspension of senior Sanders Commings, Georgia now needs and expects much from Swann.

“It’s time to get to business,” he said this week.

For the first two games –- the Sept. 1 home opener against Buffalo and the Sept. 8 SEC opener at Missouri – Georgia’s top cornerbacks figure to be, in no particular order: Branden Smith, a senior who started seven games last year; Malcolm Mitchell, a sophomore who moved from wide receiver to defense amid much fanfare in the spring; and Swann.

“When I came in, I was behind some top guys, and I just had to wait my turn,” Swann said. “We lost a key player when Boykin graduated, and I feel those shoes …

Continue reading After ‘waiting my turn,’ Dogs’ Damian Swann ready to produce »

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

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

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

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

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

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

UGA’s Merritt Hall is proving recruiters wrong

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

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

Hall

Hall

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

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

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

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

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

ATHENS – Let the hype begin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extra effort needed for Jarvis Jones to duplicate 2011 production

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

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

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

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

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

Grantham said Jones has unique athletic gifts and intelligence that allowed him to record the second-most productive season …

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

UPDATED: Pecking order in Georgia’s backfield appears unchanged

MORNING PRACTICE UPDATE

Updated with comments from coach Mark Richt . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATED: Georgia OL Kolton Houston still ineligible due to banned substance

ATHENS – As Georgia prepares to begin preseason football practices Thursday, Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston remains ineligible to compete for the Bulldogs, the school confirmed Thursday.

Houston, a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle from Buford, was ineligible last season due to what Georgia would say is only was “an NCAA issue.” But according to 10 pages of documents and letters released to the AJC on Thursday, Houston has been actively appealing a positive NCAA test for a banned substance since April of 2010.  At that time, Houston was informed he had tested positive for “19-norandrosterone” — an anabolic steroid — in a random drug screening.

According to appeals documents filed with the NCAA and president Mark Emmert, Houston has continued to test positive since then, though the school and family contend there has been no re-use of the substance and the levels have declined to the point of being disadvantageous. Houston reportedly was administered the steroid …

Continue reading UPDATED: Georgia OL Kolton Houston still ineligible due to banned substance »

Georgia’s Reese Hoffa among the favorites to medal in shot put at Olympics

Reese Hoffa, a 2001 UGA graduate who still ives and train in Athens, is among the favorites to medal in the shot put in the London Olympics. (Getty Images)

Reese Hoffa, a 2001 UGA graduate who still lives and trains in Athens, is among the favorites to medal in the shot put in the London Olympics. (Getty Images)

ATHENS — At this point, Reese Hoffa is a grizzled old veteran when it comes to the Olympics. He’s only 34 years old, but London is his third Olympic Games and he has literally been all over the world as shot putter.

But that doesn’t make him immune to the rush that comes with competing with the best in the world. When Hoffa steps inside the circle for Friday morning’s qualifying round (the finals are Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.), he expects to be just as nervous and excited as he was for his first Games in 2004.

“I am definitely in a different place mentally,” said Hoffa, a UGA graduate from Augusta who still lives and trains in Athens. “But I still get very excited about going out there and testing my skills against the best shot-putters in the world. You get a little bit older and you don’t quite bend …

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