News and notes: Odell Thurman back in staff support role
During Monday's preseason press conference, head coach Kirby Smart wasted little time touching on a number of subjects Georgia fans have been asking.
Among them, the status – or non-status - of freshmen Robert Beal and Devonte Wyatt.
According to Smart, neither player has yet to enroll, although he did not rule out their ability to do so before classes begin next week.
In other news:
• Smart confirmed the additions of wide receiver/punt returner Ahkil Crumpton and graduate transfer kicker David Marvin, who will compete with Rodrigo Blankenship for the starting job at kicker.
"We identified him (Ahkil Crumpton) as a guy that we thought was a really good player. Of course we watched tape on him and thought he really did a good job," Smart said. "He was not going to be eligible for the SEC unless he took a math at his home college out there in California, so he was able to do that. We think he upgrades our roster. He helps us. He's from Philly, where we've got D'Andre Swift and Mark Webb, so both those guys knew him."
• Former Bulldog and NFL linebacker Odell Thurman has joined the Bulldogs as an intern with the strength and conditioning team.
"He's there as an intern, we're only allowed to have five (strength) coaches, so he's allowed to do what an intern does. And we're glad to have Odell helping out in the weight room and assisting in the roles he's allowed to help in," Smart said.
• Senior wide receiver Shakenneth Williams has applied for a medical exemption. His playing days appear over.
• “These practices are not easy. The idea is to create adversity for your team, find out who the leaders are, and we’ll be able to do that.”
• “As far as areas of concern for this team, special teams will be No. 1. We’re going to try and change things up from a special teams standpoint, as you guys know, from a quality control. Scott Fountain (formerly at Auburn) joins us, who I thought did a tremendous job at Auburn. He brought a lot of insight to our program and coaches. He’s going to help us be better in special teams practice, organization, and just the things that we do. We HAVE to improve in that area. I think we counted, I want to say 250 snaps played on special teams by true freshmen last year. The question becomes, can the freshmen this year unseat some of those guys or create a competitive environment. We’ve GOT to improve in our kicking game. That’s punting, kickoff, coverage, return game, everything.”
• “Throwing the ball more efficiently is a big goal of ours. If you throw the ball efficiently, you’ll be able to run the ball with the backs we’ve got. If you can’t throw the ball efficiently, it makes it hard, I don’t care who your backs are.”
• “We’re going to have a lot of shuffling across the offensive line throughout camp. I’m excited about those guys. I think they are up to the challenge. I think it’s going to be a key, integral part of our success to figure out who are the best eight, who are the best 10 and how many do we have that can play winning football on the offensive line. You can’t find that out on Day 1, guys. You can’t find that out on Day 2 when you have shorts on. But after that, you can start to see who is really serious about it early on.”
• “The red area of the offense is not where it needs to be. We’ve got to score touchdowns and we’ve got to cash the ball in. When you get in the red area and the field shrinks, you HAVE to be able to run the ball.”
McGhee garners early praise
Smart singled out sophomore Tyrique McGhee during Monday's presser.
"Tyrique McGhee is a guy who is a really serious football player. I would put Tyrique up there as one of our best tacklers. I learned a long time ago when you sign a young man from Peach County, he's going to know how to tackle. They play tough, physical football, and Tyrique identifies that each day. We're excited to have him," Smart said. "Tyrique is one of those guys that's going to be in a big competition. Who is going to replace Mo Smith at the nickel star is one of our biggest questions, and Tyrique is in the thick of that. But he's also in the thick of corner and he also had the No. 1 special teams snaps of all our true freshmen. So, he's a guy we're really counting on for leadership.”
What about Richard LeCounte and Nate McBride?
A reporter asked Smart what expectations he had for freshmen Richard LeCounte and Nate McBride.
According to Smart, it's actually quite simple.
“I think 'expectations' is a big word that you say for a freshman. My expectation is to go out there today and know how to line up and do the five coverages. That's my expectation. Then when we do special teams, my expectation is for them to be first in line, and be first down in coverage, because they are both fast, they are both physical and that's it," Smart said. "I can't put an expectation to say you're going to start, you're going to be this or this. You can't do that to a kid. What you do is say, worry about day one and then we'll worry about day two. We put a calendar up here and show them the calendar. We don't even look at the next day.
"We look at the day that we're on, and that's really all that matters. I know you guys want to forecast and you want to talk about the first game, you want to talk about the second game, but we don't do that. All we're thinking about is what's going to give Richard the best chance to be successful, today. Nate, what's going to give him the best chance to be successful, today. And if he does that for 28 days, 29 days or 27 practices, he's going to be fine.”