August 7, 2012

Tuesday post-practice notes

It doesn't take a football genius to recognize that the Bulldogs had issues on special teams last year.

Georgia coach Mark Richt won't argue with that, and Tuesday morning spent the entire part of the team's first two-a-day working on all four phases during a two-hour session at Sanford Stadium.

Freshman kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber each received their first long look of the fall.

Morgan is competing with senior Jamie Lindley for the starting kicker job while Barber is battling redshirt sophomore Adam Erickson to become the starting punter.

"I thought our extra point and field goals were not what they need to be yet. Lindley was striking some as well, and when they hit it good, it looks great, but there was a little inconsistency there, not as deadly accurate as you want," Richt said of Morgan and Lindley. "They're just getting used to going full speed with the live rushers and new holder, being in Sanford Stadium and everybody watching too had a little bit to do with it. He (Morgan) still probably hit 75 percent of his kicks, which isn't bad, but in this kind of drill you want to hit them all."

Barber apparently fared much better.

"I thought he had some balls with some outstanding hang-time. I think he understands that part of it," Richt said. "I think it's kind of a natural for him. He gets the ball up good. I think his operation time was pretty good."

Neither Morgan nor Lindley is apparently having any trouble reaching the end zone on kickoffs.

"I thought Lindley and Marshall did a pretty good job, high and into the end zone, good hang-time," Richt said. "If they decided to take it out, it's high enough where we can get our coverage down there, so I thought that was good."

Players are also battling to see who returns both kicks and punts for the Bulldogs this fall.

Tuesday, Richt rattled off the names of Bacarri Rambo, Branden Smith, Malcolm Mitchell, Damian Swann and Rhett McGowan as possible punt return men, with Smith and Mitchell joining Justin Scott-Wesley, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley on kickoffs.

Richt said getting the right personnel on both the kickoff and punt teams remains one of his biggest priorities, too.

"There are some spots they already know where our coaches have some veterans on there, some starters, but we know injuries happen. We know that guys get fatigued in the middle of games and we also know every once in a while a freshman can earn a position if he's got the athleticism," Richt said. "But every time you put a freshman in, you're green as far as knowing what to do so you've got to measure if athleticism and enthusiasm is going to beat out somebody with a little more experience. Maybe he doesn't run quite as well, but he understands what he's doing. It's kind of a race to that first game for those guys to prove they should start over another guy."

Injury update

Ray Drew missed his second straight day with a concussion Tuesday, but there was some good news as both Abry Jones (knee) and Chris Burnette (illness) returned to the field.

Burnette missed the Bulldogs previous two practices.

Other injuries include Marc Deas (right hamstring strain, day-to-day), linebacker James DeLoach (right hamstring strain, limited) and Dexter Morant (right shoulder sprain, out).

Jenkins says Dawgs have their center

One of the more popular subjects for message board fodder in recent days has revolved around whether or not the Bulldogs are best suited with David Andrews as the team's starting center.

According to one of the men the sophomore goes against on a daily basis, the answer is yes.

"I'm going to be honest with you - a lot of people are going to be surprised. He has a lot of heart and attitude," senior nose John Jenkins said Tuesday. "With that heart and attitude and him being so young, he's going to be a great player - a great player. For him to hold Kwame (Geathers) and myself, man, it shows a lot."

Not that it's been an easy chore.

At 292 pounds, Andrews is some 60 pounds lighter than two 350-plus nose tackles and has in the past struggled.

"The thing is, he's not going to see too many guys like us," Jenkins smiled.

Richt apparently has few concerns.

"I love 'Boss,' Richt said.

Jenkins has certainly noticed an improvement.

"The thing is, with David, his technique has gotten a lot better since the spring," Jenkins said. "He's been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work, not just with the team but, when we had workouts during the season he did a lot of work by himself. He just progressed. I can tell, from the springtime to now, he's really improved since that first period of time."

Bailey back on the grind

It's been quite a while since redshirt freshman Sterling Bailey has been able to do any sort of football-related activity - Dec. 10 to be exact.

Since undergoing labrum and later foot surgery, Bailey has endured what he admits has been an agonizing process of trying to get to the point he is now- actually practicing with the rest of his team.

"It was tough," Bailey said. "Every day has been a battle mentally because I wanted so bad to get out there and get back to practice, although I knew I had to take it one step at a time."

At 290 pounds, Bailey is trying to make his home on the Bulldogs' defensive line where he working out at both the 3 and 5 technique positions.

"I think I've showed the coaches that I can play," said Bailey, who admits his shoulder still gets sore from time to time. "Now, it's just my time to do a little more."

New nickname for Robinson

Apparently, senior linebacker Christian Robinson doesn't mind standing out in the crowd.

So, for a lark, he decided back in May to get a Mohawk and dye it blond. While the rest of Robinson's hair has grown back, the blond streak remains.

"Arthur (Lynch) keeps joking around, calling me the 'Honey Backer,'" Robinson said, referring to a takeoff of LSU All-American Tyrann Mathews, aptly nicknamed the "Honey Badger." "But I'm going to go with what Coach O (linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti) calls me - "Bombshell."

Robinson said the new hairdo is all in good fun, and came about when he, Lynch and long-snapper Ty Frix traveled to Italy as part of UGA's study abroad program.

"We just decided to do something crazy," said Robinson, who added the experience overseas is something he won't soon forget.

"We really thought we were going to eat tons of pizza and spaghetti, but we ended up eating really well," Robinson said. "It was just a great trip. We learned a lot, especially with learning how to be out of our element with people we really can't communicate with."

Eating out could sometimes be a challenge as well.

"We were sitting at this one restaurant and we really couldn't communicate. We were struggling to figure out what we wanted," Robinson said. "The only thing we could figure out was that Ty wanted some swordfish. He knew that one word, so that's what we all got."

This and that

The Bulldogs will have their first scrimmage of camp Wednesday morning. "It's big for a lot of reasons. If you're the No. 1 defense you want to gain confidence, same thing with the No. 1 offense," Richt said. "You want to see your units gain confidence in what you're doing, but there will be a lot of individuals who are going to try to be earning playing time and they certainly want to have some success." … Richt said he's not worried yet about working out a pecking order at tailback, and doesn't expect to have one after the scrimmage is complete. "I'm just concerned with how many guys we can get ready to play SEC football. Both are convinced they can run the ball without much trouble, good ball skills but still learning how to pass protect." … Apparently, freshman John Theus is everything coaches thought he would be as the Jacksonville native continues to make a push to be in the starting lineup for Game 1 against Buffalo. "Theus is improving quite a bit. He's motivated and he's known for a while that when he got here we were expecting him to fight for a starting role and he's right there," Richt said. "When Chris (Burnette) was not feeling well, we moved Watts inside so he's been getting all the reps at first-team tackle the last day or two. He's right there getting a lot of work. He'll be game ready." … Richt said converted safety Josh Harvey-Clemons has made four interceptions in practice thus far." … Richt still isn't ruling out having Kolton Houston available at some point this season. "Either he's in or he's out, that's kind of where we are at right now," Richt said." In the meantime, we do want him to stay locked in, clued in as much as we can to keep him ready in case he gets to the point where the NCAA says he can play. Like I said, we're still hopeful and we haven't given up by any means on the hope of him playing this year."