April 15, 2011

G-Day Preview

Much has been made of Mark Richt's decision to hold a "draft" to determine which players suit up for what side during Saturday's annual G-Day game at Sanford Stadium.

Some have argued that by mixing up the players, it will compromise whatever additional continuity might be gained by splitting into teams where the combatants might not have lined up with each other during the course of the spring.

While there may be truth in that statement, quarterback Aaron Murray will argue the opposite side of that debate every time, claiming that the shakeup will make for a more exciting game, instead of the glorified scrimmage spring games often become.

"I think it brings some excitement to the whole game," Murray said. "Past games have been just like practice with the 1s going against the 1s, which is what we do every spring. I think this adds some spice."

Richt obviously agrees.

Georgia's head coach said he's considered the format before, only to be talked out of it by his assistants. This year, Richt held firm with his decision.

"I know our guys are really excited about G-Day," Richt said. "The draft and the new format have created a buzz of positive energy. We think this will be an entertaining day, and we're looking forward to it. G-Day is another chance for our players to play with a lot of speed and energy, and it's an opportunity to play in front of our fans. This game - and really all of our practices this spring - will give us a snapshot of our strengths and weaknesses as we head toward the fall, and that's pretty important. This game will help show us where we are."

The Black Team - which was selected by Murray and cornerback Brandon Boykin - will feature receiver Marlon Brown, tight end Orson Charles, offensive lineman Justin Anderson, defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, linebacker Alec Ogletree, cornerback Branden Smith and safety Shawn Williams.

Running back Washaun Ealey is also on the black squad but the junior is not expected to play due to his strained left hamstring.

"I think we absolutely dominated the draft," Murray deadpanned. "It was a good draft for us."

The Red roster will be led by team captains Ben Jones, linebacker Christian Robinson, tailback Caleb King, receiver Tavarres King, tight end Aron White, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and linebacker Cornelius Washington.

A few items of note about Saturday's game:

• All balls will be spotted on the 25-yard line on any kickoff.• There will be no return of kickoffs or punts.

• Quarters will be 12 minutes long and penalties will be assessed for any 40-second violation between plays.

• Quarterbacks will not be live, therefore cannot be hit.

• Defenses are allowed to blitz, just as long as the blitzes used were ones used last year and readily available on game film.

"I don't want our coaches to show anything new that might give Boise State or South Carolina a hint," Richt said. "If it's a blitz we ran all last year, I don't care if we run it. If it's something they can get on game film, there won't be any limit on whether they can blitz or anything. I'm just not excited about showing anything new."

NOTES:

• Admission to G-Day is free, but fans are encouraged to bring items for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and/or make monetary donations to the Johnathan Taylor Fund. Taylor is the Georgia baseball player injured last month who is currently at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

• At halftime, former Bulldogs David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford and Eric Zeier will participate in the Legends Quarterbacks Challenge. The quarterbacks can earn points for various skills. A contestant paired with the winning quarterback will have an opportunity to make a 25-yard pass into a barrel to win $25,000 to be split by the contestant and the Johnathan Taylor Fund.

• At 11:15 a.m. there will be the annual flag football game which will feature former lettermen representing five decades. The ex-Bulldogs scheduled to participate include Amp Arnold, Buzy Rosenberg, Spike Jones, Burt Jones, Kentrell Curry, Fred Gibson, Jiggy Smaha, Mike Usry, Bill Montgomery, Brandon Miller, Curt McGill, Cory Phillips, Bartley Miller, Ian Knight, Thomas Flowers and Mikey Henderson.

• The gates at Sanford Stadium will open at 11 a.m. Fans may enter through Gates 2, 3, 4, 4A, 6 and 9, and may sit in the lower 100 and 200 levels.

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