June 18, 2012

'Job has to get done'

If there's a single word that's been bandied about in the preseason magazines when it comes to describing the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs, one jumps immediately to mind - potential.

But according to head coach Mark Richt, that and a cup of coffee amounts to next to nothing, and that's the approach he intends on taking once the season kicks off Sept. 1 against Buffalo.

"We really haven't done anything yet and we know that," Richt said. "Preseason predictions are fun to talk about, but bottom line, we've got to get the job done between now and when camp begins and when camp begins we need to have a healthy and productive one."

Safety Shawn Williams takes it a step further than that.

Although he's quick to admit a trip to the national championship, this year in Miami, will always be the top goal, the senior knows the time-honored cliché of taking it "game-by-game" is the only way the Bulldogs has a chance of making that dream come true.

There's been too many on-field disappointments over the course of his three previous seasons in Athens to do otherwise.

"I know a lot of people are predicting us to have a great year, but we're the ones who have to go out and play and it really is one game at a time," Williams said. "Nothing's going to be easy. We can't overlook anybody - it's all about taking it one game, one week, one quarter at a time."

One thing Richt is determined not to do is let the team fall into the same kind of trap it did in 2008 when the Bulldogs were Sports Illustrated's preseason No. 1 squad.

"Yes, we have potential, but it's like I was saying, we haven't done anything yet," Richt said. "We've not won a game this season, so we've got to show up for Game 1, take care of business and go on from there. It's exciting to have a pretty large group of veterans coming back, and being around some guys I think are excited about preparing, so that's a good thing."

Quarterback Aaron Murray can vouch for that.

One of the changes he's noticed is that for the first time in his three previous seasons in Athens, more players hung around town in May to prepare, instead of heading for their respective hometowns.

"It was the most I've ever seen, probably in the mid-20s or mid-30s," said Murray, who credits new strength and conditioning assistant Sherman Armstrong for that.

Armstrong, whose specialty is teaching proper running techniques, endurance and flexibility.

"I know a bunch of receivers stayed, not only to work with me, but to work with him on their hip mobility, flexibility and strength," added Murray, who worked with Armstrong for a month in May of 2011. "I told them he was the guy to get all of that accomplished. "

Armstrong's methods have been particularly appealing.

Although Murray laughed that first-time participants in Armstrong's program will complain about how sore they feel, the techniques being employed have been a welcome change.

"A lot of the stuff many of the guys have not done before, like with bands and resistance. It's great," Murray said. "It's nice to change things up and really surprise people, learn new stuff that they've never done before."

Williams has been one of the Bulldogs getting his taste of "The Shermanator."

"I think people will notice that we'll be more flexible and more explosive, especially in our case (defensive backs) when it comes to getting in and out of our breaks with the receivers," Williams said. "But even the offensive linemen, with them you'll be able to see them stay low and explosive getting out of their stance."

Richt said the work being done with Armstrong is just part of what will be needed to make sure his Bulldogs get a jump start on accomplishing their respective goals.

He's also got a message for his stable of tailbacks, which will consist primarily of Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley - be ready.

"You'll get a pretty good idea of how hard the freshmen worked in the summer time, whether they learn what to do, because once you line up it will be pretty obvious," Richt said. "If they line up, break the huddle and know what to do or if they're looking around to Coach (Bryan) McClendon asking what to do or asking the quarterback. If you don't know what to do, you have no chance so then you better protect the football. If that ball's popping out, you're probably not going to be playing. Of course, you've got to protect the passer and in our system, the backs must block."

Richt added that each of the Bulldog backs will get an equal shot.

"Those are the things we'll be looking for and I think we have enough competition now that we're going to find 1, 2, 3, maybe 4 who can do the job," he said. " I don't know how many can do that and that will decide who starts and who plays the most."