August 15, 2011

Secondary choices

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos admits he has some difficult decisions to make regarding his secondary this fall.

He has so many good athletes, deciding which ones to play is actually becoming a chore.

"Unfortunately, we can't play them all," Lakatos joked. "We wouldn't do too well with nine defensive backs on the field with the run game."

Depth, Lakatos explained, is a wonderful thing.

If preseason practice thus far is any indication, the Bulldogs appear to have more depth than they've had in recent years beginning with cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith, safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, not to mention the versatile Sanders Commings - who coaches plan on alternating at corner and safety depending on the opponent and opposing personnel.

Williams, in fact, appears to be well on his way to sewing up a starting spot for the Sept. 3 opener against Boise State.

According to head coach Mark Richt, Smith "looks like a different player" than he was in 2010, while Williams has taken advantage of Jakar Hamilton's absence (hamstring) and has continued to open Lakatos' eyes.

"Anytime anybody has to miss practice time, it's hard to keep up," Lakatos said. "Shawn has been getting the lion's share of the work at this point and time. We feel really confident with Shawn. He's gotten lot better, he knows what to do and he's communicating. When he's on the field, he's helping some of the younger guys get better, too."

Ditto for Smith, whose five-interception performance during the first competitive drills of camp made Lakatos take notice.

"There were things last year that you would have liked to have seen him do and you see him do, so that is encouraging because he is more confident and is executing what we're asking him to do," Lakatos said. "He wants to be successful and he knows what he needs to do and how he needs to do it. When he's on the field, he's executing more often than not."

At nickel, Lakatos has several options available there as well.

Along with Boykin, redshirt sophomore Jordan Love (who has missed the last four practices with an injury), freshman Damian Swann and true freshman Chris Sanders along with walk-on Connor Norman have been part of the rotation.

"We've got a lot of guys we can count on there," Lakatos said. "Again, we've got a lot of flexibility."

Lakatos said he's been pleased with the work of Rambo at free safety and gave no indication that his starting job might be in jeopardy.

"He's done a good job, although we've done some experimenting," said Lakatos, who discounted the notion the junior played tentative last year due to the concussion he suffered against Auburn as a freshman in 2009.

"I had heard about that, but that was never an issue with me as far I was concerned," Lakatos added.

Of the freshmen, Swann and safety Corey Moore appear to have a leg up on game reps ahead of fellow newcomers Devin Bowman and Nick Marshall (concussion), who has missed the last four practices.

Still, Lakatos isn't ruling anybody out quite yet.

"I think we're going to look at it and say if a guy is going to help us win, we're going to get him out there," Lakatos said.

That includes special teams.

"Yes, if they can play, we're going to get them out there," he said.

That list also includes young safeties Marc Deas, Quintavious Harrow and even Norman, who enjoyed an outstanding spring and had an interception in the G-Day game.

"The thing about him (Norman) is he can play all the positions; he knows what to do," Lakatos said. "He's a very intelligent player. He's a good athlete, he's got some strength and he can run. He's a guy that's a good player for us."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.