August 14, 2010

Defense rules the day at scrimmage

Saturday's scrimmage was a defensive-dominated show, as the Bulldog offense struggled with its consistency throughout the 90-minute session at Sanford Stadium.

With the exception of red zone drills when the offense was able to convert twice, the only points came on a 50-plus yard field goal by Blair Walsh as the Bulldog defense continues make impressive strides picking up Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

"The defense definitely dominated the scrimmage. Offensively, we may have gotten two first downs in the first half. One was a long pass to Logan Gray to set up an opportunity to kick a long field goal which Walsh made from about 50 yards or so," head coach Mark Richt said. "But before the scrimmage we decided not to do any extra point and field goals, figuring we might get some extra points and field goals, but we got only one opportunity the whole time so that will give you an example of how things went."

Granted, injuries to key members of the offensive line likely played a small role.

The Bulldogs were without starting left guard Cordy Glenn (mono), center Ben Jones (knee) while right tackle Josh Davis only played a few snaps before injuring his ankle.

In fact, Richt said that Jones, who injured his knee in Tuesday's scrimmage, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Sunday to repair a meniscus issues, but according to head trainer Ron Courson, will be able to resume practice the week of the Sept. 4 opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The statistics were indicative of how difficult a day it was for the Bulldog O.

Running back Washaun Ealey led all rushers with seven carries for 78 yards, including one long run, while quarterback Aaron Murray completed just 8-of-20 passes for 133 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Gray led all receivers with three catches for 70 yards, including a lone reception of 46 yards.

"We made some good plays but I just don't think we were able to get into a good rhythm.

We had a couple of good drives, but we only do eight play drives so if you're moving the ball and you get to eight plays, you just stop," Murray said. "We had one where Logan made a nice catch and ran 40 yards, then the next play we ran the ball into the red zone and had to stop the drive. Another time we made the red zone but it was eight plays. We didn't get to finish a couple, but we still didn't get into a great rhythm. There were flashes but we were just not very consistent."

Defensively, there were plenty of bright spots.

For the second straight scrimmage, senior Akeem Hebron led the way with six tackles, while Justin Houston had three sacks and returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown.

Darryl Gamble added three sacks, giving him six in Georgia's two scrimmages thus far.

"Darryl's been highly productive. I'm going to leave that up to Coach (Todd) Grantham, but there's no doubt that both of those guys are going to play a lot," Richt said. "But he has probably been the most productive outside linebacker in camp, just from my vantage point.

"He's practicing hard. When it's time to get into these competitive drills, these 11-on-11s he's turning it up a notch. He's been impressive. Darryl gets an opportunity as an outside linebacker to blitz, get matched up on running backs which has been a mismatch because he is bigger than most Sam linebackers we run into, and he also gets a chance to put his hand on the ground in our nickel package to use his quickness against those tackles. I've been impressed."

There was some good news from the offensive perspective.

Offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant was able to see his first scrimmage reps, while both Richt and Murray continue to speak highly of Gray, whose quickly showing that he just might become an integral part of the Bulldogs' receiving corps.

"He can play the X, Y and Z spots. He can play every position at receiver, so it's great. He's made some unbelievable plays," Murray said. "He's a great athlete, but he's definitely turning some heads out there."

As for Murray, Richt indicated that he's not overly concerned about Murray's passing percentage after completing just 8 of his 20 attempts.

"Not really. There's reasons why some balls are incomplete and you've got to look at that. We've got what we call an accuracy grade where every time the quarterback drops back to pass and is able to throw without getting the ball batted down, or a sack, whatever it might be, we gauge whether he threw an accurate ball or not," Richt said. "Sometimes you can throw a perfectly accurate ball and it gets dropped or you can throw an inaccurate ball, get a minus for the throw and somehow it becomes a completion. We're not going to give him a plus for that. We grade him on an accuracy grade but the stats don't tell the story. The rain came down a little bit which makes it tougher at times, but there were a time or two where the ball wasn't caught."

NOTES: With Jones out, redshirt freshman Chris Burnette worked as the first team center, with redshirt sophomore A.J. Harmon replacing Davis at right tackle and Tanner Strickland standing in for Glenn at left guard. … Richt said he will get together with coaches beginning Monday to start getting a better idea on any potential changes regarding the current depth chart. .. Richt said Kwame Geathers received a number of snaps at first team nose as Grantham and position coach Rodney Garner continue to evaluate what players will make the biggest impact on the defensive line.

Scrimmage stats

(Numbers are unofficial and does not indicate the total number of plays run in the 90-minute workout)

Offense

Rushing
- Washaun Ealey 7-78, Caleb King 7-18, Fred Munzenmaier 6-17.

Passing - Aaron Murray 8-20-0-0 133, Mason 8-18-0-0 48, Welch 2-5-0-0 UA, Bingham 0-1-0-0

Receiving - Logan Gray 3-70, Tavarres King 1-41, Aron White 3-27, Michael Bennett 4-20.

Defense

Akeem Hebron (five tackles (fumble recovery), Kwame Geathers (three tackles, half-sack), Brandon Boykin (four tackles), Alec Ogletree (three tackles, pass breakup), Justin Houston (two tackles, three sacks, returned fumble 33 yards for a touchdown), Vance Cuff (two tackles), Cornelius Washington (two tackles and pass breakup), Branden Smith (two tackles), Marcus Dowtin (three tackles), Nick Williams (three tackles and three sacks), Kiante Tripp (two tackles and half sack), Darryl Gamble (three tackles, three sacks).

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