March 23, 2007

Dawgs prepare for Saturday scrimmage

It was a beautiful day in Athens on Friday as the Georgia Bulldogs hit the practice field for the seventh time this spring, but things were not so great on the practice field.

Head coach Mark Richt was underwhelmed by the performance of his players at practice.

"It was bad today. It could have been cancelled due to lack of interest I thought," said Richt. "I even hated calling out the score offense versus defense because it just did not seem like anybody cared all that much, but hopefully that is the calm before the storm tomorrow in the scrimmage that we have. We shortened it up so hopefully everyone can stay fresh for tomorrow."

Coach Richt thinks some of the players may be mentally fatigued after practicing in pads on Wednesday and knowing they have a scrimmage on Saturday.

"We really got after it on Wednesday in full pads and they know tomorrow is full pads, so today was shells and I think they let down mentally," said Richt. "A lot of times on days like today you feel that way walking off and you watch the film and realize there were a lot of good things that happened."

The players got a little punishment from their head coach for the lackluster practice.

"One of the best things that happened today was that I got to take the skill guys and give them 25 up-downs for not keeping their helmet in their hands on the sideline. If you leave you helmet lying on the ground somebody could get hurt so if you get caught without helmet on or in your hand, you get in trouble. Since all the kickers and snappers were sitting around doing nothing anyways as usual I figured I would give them up-downs too. That was the most exciting part of practice today."

Georgia has their first full scrimmage of 2007 on Saturday at the practice field instead of Sanford Stadium at around 11:30 am.

"The scrimmage is the best way for us to evaluate what you might do in a game. It will be a Junior Day so there will be a lot of people watching so that helps. G-Day helps when everyone is watches because it is closer to game-like conditions when people are watching," said Richt.

The offensive and defensive units will work in various combinations throughout the scrimmage as the coaches try to evaluate both the situational conditions and the personnel packages.

"We will go three drives per group with ones versus ones, twos versus twos, threes versus threes. They will try to drive the ball at a minus-25 start, minus-35 start, and maybe a plus-40 start. We will do some third and five, four, three, two, and one. We will put the ball on the ten-yard line and try to drive offensively to score a touchdown were a field goal will not get it done, so basically four plays to get it into the endzone and four plays for the defense to keep them out. We will do that a couple of times and then we will finish on a true goal line situation. We will do a little kicking prior also, some punt block, some kickoff return, and some field goal."

Georgia is limited to only three spring scrimmages due to NCAA rules and the coaches want to make the most out of their time.

"This is one of the three days that the whole practice can be a scrimmage. G-Day will be one, this will be one, and a week from today on that Friday," said Richt. "Those are the three days when we can do nothing but scrimmage."

Coach Richt wants to see how the offense performs in a game-type situation against the young defense.

"We will try and drive the ball and see if we can sustain something offensively and we will see if the defense can shut them down. We will have some opportunities to have the coaches make decisions at the spur of the moment. Whatever comes up you play on those drives. A lot of times when we do situational they know it will be third and four for five times in a row or something. So we play this as it comes and the players have to get used to transitioning from personnel groups. If it is first and ten they may be in base personnel or if it is third and long they may be in a three-down scheme in what we call a trey package. We will have to get used to subbing and things like that."

"If we get a penalty now they may come out and do some up-downs with me where as tomorrow it will cost their team a drive or something," said Richt. "We will be put in situations where we would normally kick a field goal and we will kick a field goal and do extra-points."

They switched the scrimmage from Sanford Stadium to the practice fields outside Butts-Mehre to have privacy for Junior Day.

"We will have our juniors here and this is a great field to practice on too. It will be easier for us logistically. Last time we emphasized our academic building and our stadium, but we did not emphasize Butts-Mehre and our practice facility. If you do two Junior Days in a short amount of time, why would you want to come back for another one if you saw the same thing, so we are changing up what we will emphasize."

There will be a large crowd of potential Bulldogs in attendance evaluating the school, the coaches, the facilities, and the other players.

"I think we will have 30-40 juniors. We are trying not to make it too big and it is an invitation situation," said Richt.

Good news for Davis

Offensive line coach Stacy Searels got some good news on Friday when Josh Davis returned to the practice field although he did not practice. Davis strained his MCL during practice on Wednesday and there was concern from many that he tore the MCL.

"The knee is better and it is not as bad as we thought it was at first. It is strain because I overextended it and I should be back by Monday," said Davis. "It is a slight strain and I overextended it too much so they thought it might be a torn MCL. I got a MRI that night and it is ok. Ron Courson said I should be back by Monday and I was hoping for tomorrow, but he said Monday."

Davis is competing for the starting left tackle with Trinton Sturdivant and Vince Vance and he knows he needs to be out on the field practicing. Because he cannot practice until Monday, Davis has spent most of his time in the weight room during practice.

"I am in the weight room working it out while they are practicing doing pushups, sit-ups and working on my pad level," said Davis.

Sturdivant a true freshman jumped Davis on the depth chart earlier this spring and Davis knows he needs to improve to earn his starting job back.

"I think I need to step it up a little more. I was doing what I thought was my best, but I need to do more because that is not the best I can do. You can always step it up some more," said Davis.

With seven practices under his belt, Davis thinks there are some minor differences with the new offensive line coach compared to his former coach Neil Callaway.

"We are learning different techniques and they (Callaway and Searels) are the same types of coaches and you can tell Callaway had a hand in coach Searels at some point in time. They are both hard on you, but in a good way. The do not tell you what is wrong they just tell you what to do."

Coach Richt is optimistic about what veterans like center Fernando Velasco and Chester Adams can do on the line this season even if they are surrounded by so much inexperience.

"I have seen enough (of the offensive line) to know that we are moving in the right direction. They are getting coached very well and I feel really confident about that. I like what Fernando is doing in the leadership role and Chester," said Richt. "The guys who are not hurt are getting better. They are having more victories than I thought they would at this point. I thought it might be domination the other way and it has not been like that. It has been very even (between the defensive line and offensive line)."

Brown on target for a fall return

Senior running back Thomas Brown is ahead of schedule in his return for ACL surgery and he began cutting this week and has been running for about two months.

"I feel like I could play and if they really needed me I could be out there," said Brown.

Brown expects to be 100 percent by the opening of fall camp in August and competing with Kregg Lumpkin and Knowshon Moreno for the top spot at tailback.

"I know I will be 100 percent by the fall without a doubt," said Brown.

Coach Richt talked about the injured players like Brown and thinks all but one of them should be ready for fall camp.

"I asked Ron (Courson) by name each player who is injured and had him tell me who he thought would be back by the fall. I asked him about Thomas Brown and he said, 'definitely.' He is very confident he will be ready."

Of the other injured players only linebacker Marcus Washington remains questionable for fall camp while he recovers for LCL surgery on his knee from last fall.

"There were not any no's, but there was one maybe. That was Marcus Washington with his knee. We are not sure. He said everyone else should be ready," said Richt of the injury evaluations.

Injury Updates

Josh Davis and Vince Vance did not practice on Friday and were wearing green non-contact jerseys. Coleman Watson (groin) and Akeem Hebron (hamstring) went through some drills and we also in green.

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