March 20, 2009

Bigger role for tight ends?

From a receiving standpoint, Georgia's tight ends were basically a non-factor for the Bulldogs last fall.

In 13 games, the trio of Tripp Chandler, Bruce Figgins and Aron White combined to catch just 10 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns, two courtesy of White who made just three grabs all year.

But head coach Mark Richt believes that's about to change. At least that's what he hopes.

"If we stay healthy our tight ends will be a lot more productive than they were a year ago," Richt said. "There's no doubt that the injury situation put a choke hold on that position last year and that's why we lacked the production there."

Although he's out for the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery, Figgins will be back for preseason, and along with a maturing Aron White plus the impending arrivals of Arthur Lynch and Orson Charles give the Bulldogs some promising new options.

Redshirt freshman Bryce Ros could also still figure into the mix said, but Richt said he's "still learning what to do to put himself in position to compete."

Richt did confirm that Charles would play both tight end and receiver this fall.

"We're certain that he'll do both," Richt said. "I've seen him enough of his wide receiver skills to think he can compete in the SEC but he can also be a legitimate tight end, legitimate enough when he's in the game that people will still have to stay in their base defense."

Commings, Pugh move to Nickel

Redshirt freshmen Sanders Commings and Makiri Pugh have been moved to Nickel back, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said Friday.

"We just wanted to put a bigger body there so we're experimenting with that right now," Martinez said. "Both of those guys we feel can give us we want and we're excited to see what we can do."

Commings said he welcomed the move.

"We're still young and we've got a lot to learn, so I think Coach just felt it best that we focus on one spot so he just decided to let Nickel be that spot," Commings said. "We were going to play Nickel anyway. We'll learn some corner as we go along."

Defense off to a good start

Although it's extremely early, Richt said the defense has definitely taken the lead through three practices this spring.

"I remember when I was at Florida and we had those great runs of 14 years in the Top 5, I don't know if there was a spring where the defense did not kick our rear end every year," Richt said. "I love the hustle, the enthusiasm, just ganging up on the ball carrier, everybody running to the ball … If the offense can match their intensity it will be really good for the team. But the defense is really the dogs right now."

Tempers are already starting to flare.

Friday's workout included a brief shoving match between wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive end Justin Houston. Also, defensive endKiante Tripp got the best of center Ben Jones during one drill when he threw him to the ground.

Richt expects the same type of intensity Saturday when the team goes to full pads for the first time this year.

"Tension is already building, you know what I mean?" Richt said. "We'll be pulling guys off would be my guess. We might be pulling coaches off, too."

Washington ready for first day back in pads

Linebacker Marcus Washington is looking forward to Saturday's full pad practice moreso than most.

It's been almost a year to the day since the middle linebacker has seen his first live action since undergoing the shoulder surgery that cost him his entire 2008 campaign.

"I love contact, I love hitting, that's my style," Washington said. "I can't wait to go at it."

Washington said the injury is 100 percent. The biggest thing he's working on right now is getting his stamina up to what it once was.

"I've had a rough go. I've gone from a knee to a shoulder, to a wrist. I've had a lot of up and down battles," Washington said. "I guess you could say I've persevered."

Junior Day on tap

Richt said he isn't concerned that schools like Texas already have 20 or so verbal commitments for the Class of 2010 while his Bulldogs are still waiting on their first.

Nor will he let himself get too worked up if he doesn't pull in a commitment or two following Junior Day Saturday.

"I'm not concerned just as long in the end we get the ones we need," Richt said. "We want to be real meticulous about who we offer and make sure we do a good job of evaluating. "

The coach said over 100 high school juniors are scheduled to be in town for the day-long event.

This and that

Martinez said that cornerback Vance Cuff tweaked his knee but is not expected to be out for long. …. The Bulldogs are scheduled to practice between 10:30 and 12:30 p.m.

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