August 11, 2012

Bobo has goal for Murray

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has set a goal for quarterback Aaron Murray this fall - a 65 percent completion rate.

Considering Murray only completed 59.1 percent his sophomore year, at first glance, a nearly six percent hike might seem a bit unattainable.

But Bobo knows last season's numbers won't do, hence his personal challenge to the Tampa, Fla. native.

"Our goal was 62 percent last year and we've raised that this year to 65 throughout the season and if we're above that, we'll have a good season," Bobo said after Saturday morning's practice at Sanford Stadium.

"He's a fourth-year guy in the system so I wanted to set the standard a little bit higher than 62," Bobo continued. "We think he's capable of being that and if he wants to be the elite quarterback that he wants to be, he'll need to pass that higher percentage."

Obviously, cutting down on the 18 turnovers he committed last fall also remains a priority, something Bobo expects will improve with improved footwork.

So far, he's liked what he's seen.

"I've been really pleased with his footwork. He's done a nice job of not being on his toes, finishing every throw on balance," Bobo said. "Obviously, sometimes you've got to throw off-balance, but his accuracy has improved. I think as of yesterday he was almost 14 percent higher compared to what it was last camp and that's a credit to his footwork. It's a credit to other things, too, but the No. 1 thing that's helped his accuracy is his footwork and he's done a nice job."

Lilly updates tight ends

When it comes to assessing this year's collection of tight ends, position coach John Lilly says things aren't always what they seem.

Take the notion that Arthur Lynch's strengths lie solely as a blocker with suspect receiving skills.

"Everybody saw guys like Orson (Charles) and Aron (White) as receivers and Artie and guys like Bruce Figgins as blockers," Lilly said. "But I think Orson and Aron were probably better blockers than people gave them credit for and I think that Artie is a better receiver than people give him credit for."

Meanwhile, both redshirt freshman Jay Rome and true freshman Ty Smith are still learning some of the nuances both will need to become more effective players.

"I think Ty comes from obviously a great high school program, he's been exposed to a lot, a lot in the passing game. I think he's like any other freshman, particular a true freshman in that the learning curve is probably pretty big with some of the things we're doing," LiIly said. "If day one, two and three you can't get lined up, it's hard to do anything else, but I think he's coming along and progressing every day like they all are."

Rome's biggest issue has been with consistency.

"Obviously, you go by what you see every day in practice and Artie, like I mentioned a little bit ago, knows exactly what to do and how we want it done," Lilly said. "Jay has learned extremely quickly and kind of knows what but doesn't always know how."

Ward starting to impress Friend

Offensive line coach Will Friend isn't ready to throw redshirt freshman Xzavier Ward into the fray quite yet, but said Saturday the redshirt freshman is starting to open his eyes after missing much of the past year with a torn ACL.

"I tell you, Xzavier has done well," Friend said. "Obviously, he hasn't been able to practice since before camp and he's shown us some things that I consider some bright stuff from him. He's still got a long way to go but he's shown some toughness."

Friend added that sophomore Hunter Long was "having a good camp" until he broke his foot during practice on Thursday.

Freshman guard Greg Pyke is also starting to make some strides.

"He's shown some good things," Friend said. "He's a talented kid, he's struggling like a lot of freshman do, but he's shown some good things as far as his athletic ability, his size and that stuff."

Redshirt freshman Zach DeBell, who has endured his share of injuries since arriving on campus a year ago, hasn't made quite the impression.

"He's struggling and still has a ways to go," Friend said. "He missed a lot last fall, he's behind and if he's going to be a college football player he's got to learn what to do and do it."

Grantham expecting much from Jenkins

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said there's a reason a number of college football's post-season football awards list nose John Jenkins among its contenders.

"He's better. First of all, he knows the system better because he's been here a year," Grantham said. "But he's a big, explosive man who is difficult to block 1-on-1, plus he has the range to affect the quarterback on passes and he can get out on the edge on those outside runs and close off some gaps. He's doing a good job."

Considering what Grantham looks for in a nose to fit his 3-4 scheme, Jenkins is exactly you want.

"He's what you look for. I think he and Kwame (Geathers) both are doing a good job," Grantham added. "I think that when you mold them, those are the types of guys you want in the 3-4 because you want to protect the middle and you're hard to run on in the middle, there's not many other places you can run."

•On freshman defensive backs Sheldon Dawson and Josh Harvey-Clemons: "I think they've just got to continue to work and develop. Throughout the course of practice you see flashes of them doing things that can help us win and contribute to what we want and then other times there will be something that comes up that's just an experience factor, but something you can continue to work and develop. But what's impressed me about those two guys is that when the same situation comes up maybe a day or two later, they're in better position to make a play so I think it's just a matter of them continuing to work and develop because they do some very good things. They can help us."

• On the play of senior cornerback Branden Smith: "He's really been a physical guy. He's come up and made some runs when he's had to so I think he's a good example of how an older guy has worked to improve his craft to make our team better."

This and That

Say goodbye to the goatee. In video posted by Georgia's official website,, head coach Mark Richt is no longer sporting his goatee. … Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell was seen in video clips on wearing a green non-contact jersey. … Georgia players enjoyed the time-honored Bulldog tradition Saturday of enjoying some watermelon after its morning session. ... The Bulldogs wrapped up the camp portion of preseason drills Saturday afternoon. With classes at UGA set to start on Monday, the team will resume their workouts later that afternoon.