August 23, 2011

Practice makes perfect?

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In previous years, Georgia's final scrimmage - like most during the preseason - includes sessions scripted right down to the very last detail.

That won't be the case Wednesday at Sanford Stadium when the Bulldogs hold what head coach Mark Richt is going to be a "practice game" in preparation for the Sept. 3 opener against Boise State.

"What happens sometimes in scrimmage is that you tend to script certain situations. You might start a drive on the 20, 30, 40, whatever it is, then you might go third-and-long, some short yardage, some red zone, coming off the one … you just have a lot of situations," Richt said. "But what I want to do in this one is just put it all together, play a game, be ready to go from offense to punt team, to defense, extra point, field goal block, whatever you have to do."

That's not all.

"The other thing, too, is when you play it as it happens, everybody has to respond quickly," he said. "The coach doesn't have his little script there as far as knowing what to do, so it's as much for the coaches as it is the players."

According to Richt, Wednesday's game will also mark the first time that the first team offense and defense will be on the same side as they take on a "Boise State squad" made up of Bulldog backup and scout team performers.

But just because they'll be playing for the other side, there's plenty on the line for them as well.

"The guys who play for Boise, the thing I want for those guys is to try and win a job, because they're going to get to play full speed, too," Richt said. "We are going to tackle, we are going to tackle on our kicking teams so a lot of times, somebody gets noticed, somebody gets discovered in this game, and I'm talking about from the opposing team. Somebody makes a special team's play, makes 20 tackles on defense and we'll tell ourselves we've got to get this guy ready to play."

Plan in place for rain

Although rain and bad weather hasn't been a problem for the Bulldogs, Richt said the new indoor area of the Butts-Mehre Building will provide an effective escape.

"What we would do, if it rains, we practice, if there's lightning, we'll get out and get inside. More than likely, we'll do one or two things. Say there was a two-hour block left over, we would have one unit probably go directly into the indoor area, keep their cleats on and just begin to practice versus the scout team, get an hour's worth of scout team, in at a good enough tempo without getting anybody hurt," Richt said. "We wouldn't get much throwing and catching in there, but we would get assignments, we would get alignments."

Although the length of the field is not toward to NCAA standards, the width of the field is.

"The field by width is true to a college field so our spacing and all that you can learn from, getting looks, walking and talking through assignments. It would be a little bit more than that. You could get some blitz pickups, pass rush in there, stuff like that," said Richt "While the one unit is inside, the other unit would watch film for an hour and then we'd switch."

Either way, Richt said it beats loading up the busses for the trek over to the Ramsey Center where the team used to have to go to get out of the rain.

"At least you don't have to order busses, you don't have to put on tennis shoes, get on the bus and by the time you get on the bus the sun comes out and you're sitting there thinking I should have waited it out," Richt said. "We might start that transition and Ron (Courson) says it's OK to finish practice; we'll be able to do that now where before we'd have to shut everything down."

Richt said he doesn't believe the program is hurt by not having a true indoor practice facility.

"I think if we really wanted to have one we could have had it out there by the softball/soccer area (off Milledge Avenue)," Richt said. "But if you do that, you still have the issue of ordering busses, travel time, getting over there so I felt like unless we could get it right here on site or if we had moved everything over to soccer/softball, just move our whole complex, then the indoor wouldn't be quite what it ought to be unless you had access right here next to your outdoor fields."

Injury update

Georgia's green patrol grew by two Tuesday as tight end Bruce Figgins (hamstring) and running back Carlton Thomas (ankle) both donned the non-contact jerseys.

"Bruce has a pulled muscle, it might have been a hamstring, but we don't think it's real serious," Richt said. "I think Carlton just had a chronic ankle that he's been practicing with and it just got to the point that he needed to give it a break."

Other players still in green include nose [db]Jonathan Jenkins (hamstring), running back Richard Samuel (quad), wide receiver Marlon Brown (ankle) and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (leg), who appeared to be running without issue during warm-up drills.

Later, Richt said Mitchell actually got to participate in workouts and he expects the freshman to take part in Wednesday's scrimmage.

This and that

Georgia conducted a brief practice in helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday's scrimmage. "We went, really short today," Richt said. "It was about 90-95 percent scout team work. We wanted to give them a little break from the hitting and full-speed running and get the scout team ready for the scrimmage." Richt said he'll likely name captains for Boise State this afternoon. … Richt said he expects running back Isaiah Crowell to fully take part in Wednesday's scrimmage, although Samuel probably will not.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.