April 11, 2009

G-Day a mixed back for offense, defense

Those fans that showed up at Sanford Stadium to watch Saturday's G-Day game wanting to see an explosive offensive display, no doubt left disappointed.

The ones who came hoping to see some strong defense, well, they probably felt good about what they saw. It just depends on your perspective.

From the standpoint of head coach Mark Richt, the Red's 13-3 victory over the Black before a crowd of 42,458 offered some good and bad.

"Offensively, overall we protected pretty good. There were some times when it broke down a little bit but I thought our quarterbacks were pretty good, pretty accurate," Richt said. "There were way too many drops. I think that was pretty obvious but each quarterback put the ball on the money most of the time. I wish the receivers would have hung onto it more because that would have made it a little more exciting for the fans I'm sure."

Richt was talking about six drops by the receivers and tight ends, plus a couple of lost fumbles that limited the scoring to a pair of field goals before Carlton Thomas ripped of a 20-yard touchdown run for the Red with nine seconds left to play.

But while the two offenses combined for just 16 points, the defense enjoyed a stellar afternoon, totaling 10 sacks between the two teams, including three each by Justin Houston and Marcus Washington.

"The defense took this game very seriously and was very excited about continuing the progress that those guys have made during the spring," Richt said. "I saw a lot of good, clean tackling and not too many mistakes on the perimeter. I didn't see any busts that make you nervous."

Darryl Gamble, who along with Washington saw several snaps as a standup defensive end, was pleased with what he saw.

"We limited the points and that was the most important thing," he said. "There are still some little things we have to do here and there, but overall I think we did fine."

Statistically, the game broke down like this:

Starting quarterback Joe Coxcompleted 9 of 16 passes for 105 yards and no touchdowns although he did have three passes dropped, including one by tight end Aron White at the 5-yard line of the Black.

Logan Gray quarterbacked the Black and completed 9-of-13 passes for 91 yards while freshmen Aaron Murray completed 3-of-5 throws for 62 yards with fellow freshman Zach Mettenberger going 0-for-3 with one interception courtesy of free safety Bryan Evans.

"Aaron and Zach are both smart kids and they've done well all spring," Cox said. "They might get chewed out for not knowing a play here and there but they have never let it affect them and I think they've both had a good spring."

Thomas led all rushers with eight carries for 59 yards, followed by fullback Shaun Chapas (3-25), Caleb King 7-22, Kalvin Daniels (3-20), Fred Munzenmaier (4-8) and Dontavius Jackson (3-1).

Israel Troupe led the receivers with five grabs for 38 yards, with White snatching three for 50, Marquis Brown three for 62 and Derek Rich two for 44. A.J. Green caught one pass for 35 yards off a flea-flicker from Cox.

The two teams combined for three field goals, including one each by Blair Walsh (51 yards), Andrew Jensen (48) and Jamie Lindley (24).

"I think it was a good spring. I think we established a lot of good habits and fundamentals," Richt said. "We all know we're short about 25 healthy bodies and when our rookies come in, by June we'll be up to about 50 running around this program which will be a big boost."
Until Georgia begins fall practice come August, Richt said it's going to be up to upperclassmen on the team to ensure the program keeps moving forward.

"I think we accomplished as much as we could under the circumstances and now it's going to be up to our seniors and other leaders to take us from this point to that first day of practice in August," Richt said. "That's the time of the year where we have the least amount of ability to watch them, to coach them. If we're going to have a great season we're going to have to have a great offseason and that's going to be up to the leaders of this football team."

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