Due to injuries, linebackers Jarvis Jones and Richard Samuel have only been able to go full tilt during practice for only a few weeks.
But in that short amount of time, the two redshirts have given head coach Mark Richt plenty of reason for optimisim regarding his linebacker corps, which loses seniors Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble to graduation at the end of the year.
"I'd have to say between him (Jones) and (Samuel) playing linebacker, that's the best scout team linebacker duo in the country," Richt said after practice Wednesday. "They're outstanding talents and giving our guys all they want all year long. The defensive scout team is the best one in the 10 years I've been here."
Samuel and Jones weren't the only members from the scout team defense to draw praise from Richt Wednesday.
"Derrick Lott, when he gets his mind right has been pretty impressive. Mike Thornton has done well. (Brandon) Burrows is a guy who practices extremely hard. Jeremy Longo has looked good; those are all scholarship guys. There's others."
But it's been Jones and Samuel who have stood out above the rest.
A transfer from Southern Cal, coaches have taken it easy with Jones while he recovers from the neck injury that led to him being released from his scholarship by Trojan coach Lane Kiffin.
Samuel, meanwhile, was bothered by a nagging knee injury for most of the year, which Richt said actually was probably a blessing in disguise.
"I think in hindsight we can probably say that," Richt said. "I think Lord willing, he will have two healthy years and spring under his belt. I think it will help him."
Samuel, who starred at linebacker in high school, began his Bulldog career at running back before being moved back to defense prior to spring drills.
"We knew he could do one or the other. We knew he was just so impressive physically you knew he could help you somewhere," Richt said. "There would be times you'd give him the ball and a couple of guys would bounce right off him and he'd just go to the house. But it was not a natural thing for him and the more he played it, the more he just didn't seem like there was a great comfort level to do all the little things you've got to do to run through the gauntlet."
Confident in Mason
Certainly, nobody hopes anything bad happens to quarterback Aaron Murray.
But if an injury would befall the redshirt freshman during Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, Richt said he would not hesitate to put true freshman Hutson Mason into the game.
"We're a lot more comfortable (with Mason) now. We did give Logan (Gray) a couple of snaps, but it wasn't to be the starter if something happened to Aaron or be the first guy in the game," Richt said. "But if Aaron couldn't play and you've got Hutson, then Logan would've been the next guy in the game, so we wanted to get him a little bit of work for that reason. But Hutson, he's had so much meeting time and practice reps that we're comfortable with him being able to run our offense."
Coming into play, Mason has appeared in four games for the Bulldogs, completing 9-of-17 passes for 102 yards and one score, which came in the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on a 26-yard pass to Gray.
Dawgs say they're not focused on a bowl
Senior right tackle Josh Davis dismissed the notion that the Bulldogs have already been told what bowl they might attend should they beat Georgia Tech.
"No, we haven't been told a thing," Davis said. "All we're worried about is Georgia Tech."
The Music City Bowl (vs. ACC, Dec. 30), the Liberty Bowl (Conference USA, Dec. 31) or the Birmingham Bowl (Big East, Jan. 8) are Georgia's most likely destinations should the Bulldogs win.
"I've never been to a bad bowl. Every bowl you go to, the people are wonderful. They have really neat things to do. You get a chance to go compete in another college game. You get to practice along the way, which I don't know that the players are all that excited about that part of it, but as a coach you like to get more practice opportunities in," Richt said. "You tend to take some time to let the younger guys get a little bit more work. I don't do that maybe as much as other coaches do. My focus is usually to make sure we are preparing to win the game."
This and that
The Bulldogs donned full pads for the third day this week and fifth straight practice in preparation for Georgia Tech. "The original plan was to go in helmets and shoulder pads today but we changed and went to full pads again," said Richt. "We felt like we needed a little more work. Once the tempo goes down with the offensive scout team, it's just too far away from the game to gear down. We went in pads last Tuesday, Thursday and then Monday, Tuesday and today."
Richt indicated that Thursday's morning workout will be in jerseys, helmets and shoulder pads.
Clint Boling owns the Bulldogs' longest streak of consecutive games started with 36 straight and leads the team with 47 total.
Everyone of Georgia seniors will wear a Captain's "C" patch. Georgia leads all schools nationwide this year with six NFL captains, including Jon Stinchcomb of the current Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Cornerback Sanders Commings (ankle) and backup running back Carlton Thomas (stinger) will play Saturday.
Richt assured beat writers that the Bulldogs would not wear black jerseys against the Yellow Jackets.
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