August 1, 2013

Don't call us Gurshall

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As long as they wear the red and black for the University of Georgia, running back Keith Marshall knows that he and fellow tailback Todd Gurley will forever be intertwined.

Considering they share the nickname "Gurshall," that's obviously not a big surprise.

Off the field, however, the sophomore would just as soon folks would give it a break.

"I think people will always refer to us as 'Gurshall.' But it's off the field mainly when you'd like to have your own identity," Marshall said. "I'll be out by myself and somebody will say 'What's up Gurshall?' That's not really cool, but it is what it is."

But Marshall understands that as long as the duo keeps putting up numbers like it did as freshmen, he knows that's not likely change.

As a freshman, Marshall rushed for 759 yards and scored eight touchdowns, numbers he hopes to surpass this fall.

"I think I had a good freshman year but there's a lot of areas to improve on," Marshall said. "I just want to be the best I can be."

Marshall is certainly in the best shape of his young career.

After playing in and around 215 as a freshman, Marshall said he's up to 220 for the start of fall drills.

"I got as big as 218 at one point last year, but it was not a good 218," he said. "I'm 220 now, but I feel I can run with anybody and I'm more flexible. I'm in the best shape I've ever been."

Houston No. 2 at left guard

Apparently, it didn't take Kolton Houston to gain his coaches trust.

During his pre-practice press conference, head coach Mark Richt said the junior already has a home on the Bulldog offensive line.

"We don't want to give him too much, but Day One he's sitting at the No. 2 left guard right now," Richt said.

"The fact that we're not wondering anymore is a great thing for him and for us. Right now he'll work at a guard spot," Richt added. "I don't know if Coach (Will) Friend has totally nailed down where everybody is going to be, but starting out he'll be at the left guard position. He's going to cross train, and he'll know the right guard position. He's athletic enough to play tackle as well."

Dawgs No. 5 in preseason coaches' poll

After finishing fourth in the final poll of 2012, Georgia finds itself 5th in the USA Today/Coaches Poll released Thursday afternoon.

"On my poll I actually ask Claude (Sports information director Claude Felton) to get everybody's preseason poll and try to get a consensus and that's where I start," said Richt, who actually votes on the poll himself. "That's maybe where a lot of other coaches start too, and I think that's where we are on mine. We're five or six on mine because of what everybody said. I'll start with that, and then I'm move from there."

Defending national champ Alabama is the preseason No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford.

Season-opener foe Clemson is No. 8, while SEC members, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida are 6th, 7th and 10th, respectively.

Richt clarifies Clowney comment

Richt's comments on Monday calling South Carolina Jadeveon Clowney the best player in the world raised more than a few eyebrows.

Thursday, the head coach clarified his remarks

"I think I said he might be the best one on the planet and it became news. I think he's the best college football player in America," Richt said. "There are a couple of other guys you could debate on that. I think I said that if you give him a couple of years of him learning in the NFL, my bet is he'll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way of saying it. "

Conley knows offense must be ready

Junior wide receiver [db]Chris Conley takes this leadership stuff seriously.

Especially, when it comes to helping make sure the Bulldog offense wastes little time getting off to a fast start this fall with Clemson on tap in the season-opener Aug. 31.

"At this point a lot of the younger guys are about to hit the realization that they are about to wear the Georgia uniform and wear that helmet so," he said. "We're ready to go."

He's also helping to make sure there's no complacency after scoring a school-record 529 points last fall.

This team, he said, needs to forge its own identity.

"I think from Day 1 that we met together as a new team the coaches made it apparent that we can't rest on what we did last year and this is a new team," he said. "We've got the same goal but we've got to have a new approach because it's going to be a new 11 guys on the field. So, I think with that in mind I think the guys have taken to the fact that they don't want to be remembered as someone else's team, they want to be remembered for what they do."

Conley hopes some of the adversity the team was forced to endure over the past year will pay dividends this fall.

"We've definitely had our moments where we've gone through some bad things and we don't want to have to go through them again," he said. "We want to be a team that's seasoned, a team that knows how to prepare so when we get into another one of those situations we can be the team that comes out on top."

Murray a lean, mean quarterback machine

After playing at approximately 212 pounds last season, Aaron Murray said Thursday he's about 10 pounds lighter heading into the start of preseason camp.

"I'm probably around 203, 204, maybe," Murray said. "I think that's a lot better."

He can already tell the difference it's made.

"Oh, it's huge. I'm feeling lean, I feel I'm a lot quicker," he said. "We've done a lot more speed and agility drills so that's helped as well. I'm feeling good. Physically, this is probably as good as I've felt since I've been here."

Swann fine with playing Nickel

Junior Damian Swann said he'll have no problem playing nickelback if called upon in the season-opener against Clemson.

"Oh yeah, I played it last year," said Swann, adding it's not much different than the spot he typically plays at wide corner.

"There's nothing (different), really, when you look at it," he said. "The nickelback me be perched off the edge a little more, but coverage-wise it's still the same."

Swann likes what he's seen from freshmen Shaquille Wiggins and Brendan Langley.

"I think they're ready," Swann said. "But it's time now to strap it up and go full speed. It's time for guys to get ready, not just pass skel but in 11-on-11 against our offense."

Swann said he's also believes junior college transfer Kennar Johnson can play corner as well as safety, giving the Bulldog defense more depth than some might have otherwise thought.

As for the Georgia defense, although there's a lot of young players, Swann sees no reason the unit can't be great.

"We need to be great because we want to be great," he said. "We don't want to put our offense in a situation where they feel they have to carry the team. At the end of the day we want to be great because that's what we came here to do."

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