April 12, 2010

G-Day shows there's still work to do

Yes, there's still work to be done and some key personnel decisions to be made.

But for all practical purposes, both Georgia head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will go into summer relatively pleased with how the Bulldogs shape up.

Naturally, all eyes will be on what Richt eventually decides about quarterback, where Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray now wait to see where they stand after Richt releases the team's post-spring depth chart here in the coming weeks.

If Richt has an idea he isn't saying.

Mettenberger, who is suspended for the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette after his arrest last month in Remerton on alcohol-related charges, certainly impressed during Saturday's G-Day Game, completing 6-of-10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

Gray was also effective as he completed 10-of-17 for 132 and a touchdown, while Murray was inconsistent completing just 10 of 22 passes for 96 yards with an interception.

"We're going to have to look at 15 spring practices to see where the position is. We're going to release a post-spring depth chart, but that will be after Coach (Mike) Bobo and I look at the entire spring. It won't be the final depth chart, but it will give us a snapshot of where we are. All the quarterbacks were hitting their targets, and it is a very close race."

How much Mettenberger's suspension will ultimately hurt his chances remains to be seen.

What is known is that it will be either be Murray or Gray who will open the season against Louisiana-Lafayette, although Richt said Saturday he was still unsure how that fact would affect his rankings.

He did, however, make it clear that Saturday's scrimmage would not carry any more weight than the other two this spring.

"If you were at every scrimmage, you might say one guy did better than the other. I think they've all really had their day, so now we're going to try and rank them. But it's so far away from the first game and there's so much that's still to be done," Richt said. "There are still 29 practices before the first game and probably at least 20 before we try to prepare for the first opponent and probably two big-time scrimmages before that, so we'll find out more."

Georgia's running game certainly appears to be in good hands.

Washaun Ealey only played briefly Saturday while Caleb King didn't play at all while resting a sore knee.

King missed most of the past two weeks with the injury, but Richt said there is no concerns of any lingering effects and he expects King to be 100 percent when the Bulldogs being their summer conditioning program.

King's absence meant more opportunities for Carlton Thomas and Dontavius Jackson on Saturday and the pair responded by rushing for 41 and 43 yards, respectively.

Up front, offensive line coach Stacy Searels mixed and matched his players, with Chris Burnette seeing extensive time at right guard while Chris Davis rested his sore hip.

Starting right tackle Josh Davis did leave the game with a sore shoulder, but Richt did not believe the injury to be serious.

"Those guys have done a great job all spring," Ealey said. "They've had a lot to do to try and pick up what the defense is doing now. But they're working hard."

Richt said he's hopeful that the rest of Georgia's offensive line wounded - Trinton Sturdivant, Tanner Strickland, redshirt freshman Austin Long and incoming freshman Brent Benedict - will all be ready to be on the practice field when preseason drills begin in August.

Richt was pleased with the performance of his wide receivers.

Much has been made of the unit's lack of depth, but at Richt points out, barring any significant injuries, his Bulldogs actually have one extra scholarship player than they did all of last year.

In Georgia's last two scrimmages, Kris Durham caught three touchdowns.

"We lost Mike Moore, but we've got Michael Bennett coming in this fall, so that's a one-for-one swap right there," Richt said. "But we're also getting Kris Durham back, plus our tight ends are going to play big roles in our offense, so maybe we'll be better off there than you might think."

Defensively, although Grantham kept things extremely simple during G-Day, Bulldog defenders still were credited with a combined total of seven sacks between the two teams.

Will linebacker Justin Houston was proud of the fact that the first-team defense only allowed the first-team offense a single touchdown in Saturday's 17-7 win by the Black.

"We came to play," Houston said. "I think the defense did a great job, especially holding the No. 1 offense to seven points. It was a great confidence builder, especially since they have been sticking it to us all spring."

Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs agreed.
"The defense is coming along great together," Dobbs said. "We are all in this together learning a new system. It's just great to come out here and perform well. It just shows how much we've come together as a group this past spring."

But as Grantham points out, there's a lot of work to be done.

Still, the first-year DC said he's been impressed with players like Houston, linebackers Akeem Dent and Christian Robinson and feels the secondary, which currently features starters in Brandon Boykin and Vance Cuff, along with Bacarri Rambo at strong safety have made important strides.

"We accomplished what we wanted to. We have a good understanding of our players, what they can do and how they best fit our system. They know our terminology, they know our base concepts," Grantham said. "Obviously, we're going to start back over now with Step 1 and do it again, but overall I've been very pleased with our guys' attitude, our guys' effort and I look forward to getting back and working with them in the fall."

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