March 31, 2012

Richt defends policies

The hottest topic across Bulldog Nation over the past few days has been the University of Georgia Athletic Association's drug testing policy and whether or it is too strict in comparison with other SEC rivals.

According to Georgia head coach Mark Richt, other policies do not factor into the equation and the focus is more on helping players develop as men and citizens.

"At Georgia, we have rules and we have policies that we feel are in the best interest of our players," said Richt. "When it comes to going to class and when it comes to going to tutors, going to study hall, and behavior, and every thing we do and every rule we have is for the benefit of these guys and for the team."

When it comes to handing down punishment for such offenses, Richt believes that taking away something that matters most to the player, playing time, best sends the message.

"A lot of the discipline we give does involve playing time," said Richt. "I think that is the one thing guys covet the most. When you discipline guys, and take playing time away, I am hoping that it is something that sticks enough where it will change that individual's behavior.

Richt will be the first to say it isn't exactly easy to hand down these punishments, but it is something that has to be done in the eyes of the Georgia coaching staff and the UGA Athletic Department.

"We are willing to do it, even when it hurts," he said. "I've seen it where guys get suspended and they are better for it and never really have another issue. That is what we are hoping will happen."

Deas to transfer

Just a day after learning that redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Derrick Lott would be pursuing a transfer due to lack of playing time, Richt announced that another member of Georgia's 2010 signing class, Marc Deas, would be doing the same.

"I talked to Marc yesterday, and it is an almost an identical situation to Lott," said Richt. "He didn't feel he was going to get the opportunity for the type of playing time he was hoping for at Georgia. Both kids love Georgia and we love them, but they didn't feel like it was going to happen for them in the time frame for when they are here, so they decided to move on. As usual, there will be no restrictions and it is a completely open transfer. They can go where they want."

Leaving the team is something that Richt says that he never enjoys seeing, he and the remaining players understand that situation.

"Guys have decisions they have to make. Everybody has their life to live and decision to make," he said. "I don't think they like losing teammates, but they know those guys and they love them. If they feel like the guy's best chance to get playing time, then I think they understand."

Rome stepping up

Coming out of Valdosta High School, b][dJay Rome[/db] was one of the top players in the country, and after the departures of two veteran tight ends, Aron White and Orson Charles, the redshirt freshman is ready to make his mark.

"It was good to get out there and get going," said Rome after the first spring scrimmage of his young career Saturday. "I was worried about it a little and wanted to make sure I did the right things, but my dad told me that this is just what I have been doing my whole life. So I just settled down and decided to go out there and have fun."

Rome finished the scrimmage with one 30-yard catch, and a touchdown that caught the eye of Richt.

"Obviously, Jay Rome scored two touchdowns, which was nice to see," said Richt. "The one catch on the goal line was pretty acrobatic and he had to kind of turn his boy and reach and snag it. He didn't land on his feet and the ball didn't come out so that is good."

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was another observer who believes that Rome has big time potential.

"Jay looked good out there," said Murray. "He has been working hard and he made some nice catches and made some plays that were really impressive."

Thornton making plays

One of the most impressive stat lines from Georgia's spring scrimmage was redshirt sophomore Mike Thornton's line of three and half tackles and three sacks.

According to Thornton, an opportunity to contribute is all he really wants at this stage.

"I really just want to get out and help my team," said Thornton. "I had a good day with a few sacks and some tackles, but I just am just working hard to get my name in the lineup and get snaps."

Thornton has seen time at defensive end and at nose tackle in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, but Saturday the former Stephenson standout saw more time at the position he was recruiting to play.

"I saw more action at nose today than end," he said. "I feel comfortable with both and more comfortable in the base package because I know the end and nose positions so well. The sub package is something we put in every day, so I am still getting used to that."

Mixed feelings for Jenkins

Senior nose tackle John Jenkins developed into one of UGA's biggest playmakers on a defense that finished in the top 10 nationally, but the Connecticut native felt that his play in Saturday's scrimmage left a lot to be desired.

"I don't think I played well," said Jenkins. "I could have played better and I'm still learning stuff in this defense. I just want to do more things right, and I could have done well. I'm not mad about it, but I could done better."

As one of several senior leaders on Georgia's defense this spring, Jenkins has noticed the performance of one of Georgia's young yet talented defensive lineman.

"Ray Drew has been playing well," said Jenkins. "Just the way he goes out there and does his thing. He has been, I mean, just dominant."

While Jenkins was impressed with Drew, and unimpressed with his own play, he does acknowledge that from his first fall camp last year to this spring is like night and day.

"Ah man, I'm just so much more prepared now," he said. "When I came for the fall, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know where to line up. I didn't know what a five technique was, and I ended up having to do some of that against LSU. Now I know the defense much better, but I'm still learning it. It changes all the time, and when they say you have to study your playbook, you better study your playbook."

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