August 2, 2012

What next at RT?

Kolton Houston's continued ban by the NCAA has left the starting right tackle spot there for the taking this fall.

The question is, who will fill the void?

According to head coach Mark Richt, sophomore Watts Dantzler and true freshman John Theus are going to get first dibs.

We have to prepare as if he won't be able to play and hope that he can. We had Kolton at right tackle, and we'll have Watts (Dantzler) there. We'll have (John) Theus backing him up at the right tackle position. I guess that what it means as far as what our depth chart looks like right now."

But challenges do remain.

With the graduation of Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson, Georgia has three spots to fill on the offensive line.

"One of our bigger challenges in camp is to put together our starting five, and anybody else who we think is capable of playing SEC football up front, we have to find out who they are," Richt said. "The two things are to get the starting lineup as soon as we possibly can and let them work together. They need to be a cohesive unit, they need to be a unit that works together in tandem and understands each other's calls and the communication is just so crucial up front."

At least there are bodies from which to choose, inexperienced though they may be.

During this early juncture, junior Kenarious Gates appears set at left tackle, with Chris Burnette at right guard, with Dallas Lee at left.

Sophomore David Andrews took reps with the first team at center.

Austin Long, Hunter Long, Zach DeBell, Xzavier Ward, Greg Pyke and Mark Beard round out the rest of the scholarship linemen who coaches will fill the rest of the voids.

"We're going to find five that can do it as far as a starting five, and we're hoping to find two, three, four more that we think can play," Richt said. "It will be a big challenge for us, but the thing about the offensive line that I've seen over the years is that if you do have guys who understand what they are doing and they do a great job with their assignments of knowing who to block, you put your hat on the right guy and you fight for 60 minutes, you can function pretty well offensively. I've got no doubt in my mind that we'll be able to find that group of guys."

New position for Harvey-Clemons?

It was just about two weeks ago that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham stated that freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons would indeed start his career at linebacker.

Thursday - at least during the six periods reporters were allowed to watch practice - the former Lowndes star was working at safety.

Although it's believed that the move is not to be permanent, Georgia's lack of depth in the secondary, particularly since starter Bacarri Rambo is expected to be suspended, Harvey-Clemons could see some extended time at the position.

Richt confident in young backs

Yes, Isaiah Crowell's talent on the football field will be missed.

But according Richt, he's confident freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley will be able to help the Bulldogs fill the void nicely.

"These guys are pretty talented too. There are a lot of talented running backs. Just look across America. There are a lot of great running backs out there," Richt said. "We have some outstanding ones right here that we are very excited about.

There are some really good backs out there."

Redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome comes into fall as the starter, but Richt said his two freshmen, along with senior Richard Samuel, will each get plenty of opportunities.

" The thing about the running back position, like any other position, a lot of it is just a matter of knowing what to do and having a willingness to do it with a lot of effort and doing it every snap. We don't expect one back to carry the load. I don't think anyone expects one back to carry the load anymore," Richt said. "This will be a situation where our backs will get it done by committee. Is it going to be predominately two or three? LSU was playing four at a time, and they are very talented guys. We feel like we have a good group of guys who can make plays for us."

Dawgs' practices will be physical

Richt said the Bulldogs won't be taking any shortcuts in regards to the type of physical practices he intends to have this fall.

"Every year,one of the hardest things to do is, you want to get your guys to the first game healthy, but you also want them to be game ready," Richt said. "You have to have a good combination of doing the teaching, but you also have to have some physicality in your camp or you probably won't be able to tackle as well as you should or block as well as you should."

Richt said making sure his team is able to execute the basic defensive fundamentals outweighs any concerns he may have about taking extra steps to ensure players remain healthy.

"We have a plan to be so many days in shorts, so many days in shells and so many days in full pads. The days we are in full pads we'll tackle to the ground and do a lot of scrimmaging," Richt said. "You just have to keep an eye on it, but we'll have enough of a physical practice in my mind that we'll be ready to tackle like we should be able to and block like we should be able to when the season starts."

This and that

Georgia was voted sixth in the FBS preseason coaches' poll. "The bottom line is the last six years, whoever won the league got to play for it. Our goal is to win the East, go to Atlanta and win the game. If you win the SEC you have a pretty good chance. It's not guaranteed, we know that, so our goal as always is to win the SEC, then get to Atlanta and win that thing. If at that point we're allowed to play in the big game, then we would be." … In regards to how much time Malcolm Mitchell will see on defense, Richt had this to say. "I think Malcolm is going to spend time on defense early on. I think as the season wears on he'll see more offense. Does that mean he'll play less defense? Not necessarily. He probably will play a little less defense when everybody comes back, but I also think that in September, my guess is if he's able to play 70 plays or 60 plays and be able to handle the heat, whatever that number is, when it's 60, I think when the weather cools a little I think he'll be able to play 10 or 20 more plays a game. " ... Richt reiterated that if something happened to starter Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason would move into the starting role. ""If something happened to Aaron (Murray) today, Hutson is second team. (Christian) LeMay would be third team right now. Hutson has to be prepared to play if something happened to Aaron. Christian will certainly get a lot of reps, and he made a lot of progress in the spring. We'll see if he can continue to make progress to compete for that second team position. Of course Faton (Bauta) is competing as well. We haven't factored in how much progress can those guys make, but today I would say that if something happened Hutson would be the guy." …Thursday's fall practice roster revealed some significant weight gains for a couple of Dawgs. Marshall is now listed at 216 pounds after reporting to school in January at 195. Gurley is at 218 while freshman outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins is 257 with Josh Dawson listed at 250.