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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Football Notes (1/22)

It might have seemed like an obvious solution, but Bryan Evans said a return to cornerback was never a consideration after teammate Asher Allen decided to leave school early for the NFL draft.

Evans moved from corner to safety midway through the 2008 season, but Allen's departure meant that he was one of just two players with experience at corner remaining on the roster. Still, Evans said, a switch back to his old position was never discussed.

"Safety is my final position at this time," said Evans, who is hoping to add about 10 pounds this offseason to prepare to play the position in 2009. "So that's what I'm sticking with."

-- Instead, Evans said, Sanders Commings and Brandon Boykin are the early favorites to replace Allen at the short corner position. Evans said Boykins showed enough ability in reserve duty last year that he has already earned playing time for 2009, but he said Commings physical style makes him a natural fit to replace Allen.

"I always think playing short corner, you go on a lot of blitzes," Evans said. "They like to do a lot of crack plays on the short side, and I think a bigger body is always helpful, and with Sanders being physical, I think that's a big advantage to him."

-- Of course, a vacancy at strong safety has added more intrigue to the secondary, and it could have been worse.

Free safety Reshad Jones nearly chose to head to the NFL early, too, but changed his mind just hours before the deadline to declare for the draft, news that came as a relief to Evans.

"It kind of had me rattled for a second just because of the fact that I still had a lot to learn, and with Reshad coming back, I could have learned a lot from him," Evans said. "But since all that is done, I guess we can just finish this season off together."

Evans said he expected Jones to move to strong safety in 2009, while the free safety job remains up for grabs.

Evans, John Knox and Quintin Banks are the leading candidates for the job, and the only members of the team with any playing experience at the position. Banks only managed to get into just one game in 2008 due to injuries, but he said his rehab is progressing quickly.

"I definitely think I'll be able to go full-go during spring," Banks said. "That's my goal right now, and that's what I'm pushing in January is to get ready for spring."

-- With stars Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno departing for the NFL, Georgia's offensive figures to have a different look next season, and left tackle Trinton Sturdivant said that's something he's looking forward to.

With numerous injuries on the offensive line last year including a season-ending knee injury Sturdivant suffered in fall camp Stafford and Moreno had to pick up a lot of the offensive slack.

Now, the line figures to have at least 10 potential starters in the mix for jobs next season, and Sturdivant said line coach Stacy Searels has put the onus for Georgia's success on them.

"Coach Searels has straight up came up and told us that it's our team now," Sturdivant said. "We have to make the most impact on the offense because we don't have a Stafford. We don't have a Knowshon. We don't have a Mohamed Massaquoi as the senior leader on our team. We're going to have to step up and show everybody that we can play, and we are going to will this team to wins."

-- A story in the Miami Herald earlier this week sparked rumors that Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez could be on the short list to fill the same job at his alma mater, Miami, but Evans said he hasn't pressed his coach for details. Of course, that doesn't mean he isn't a little curious.

"(Martinez) came in the weight room the other day, but he just wanted to see how I was doing," Evans said. "We really didn't get into any in-depth conversations. As of now, I have no idea what's going on, so hopefully we'll get some news soon."

-- Georgia's annual G-Day game, which features an intrasquad scrimmage, will be broadcast this year on ESPN. The game is scheduled for April 11 at 1 p.m.

-- I'm going to have a longer story later in the week on Georgia's new approach to the offseason, but I thought these quotes from Bryan Evans would offer fans some encouragement looking ahead to 2009...

On offseason workouts...
"We're wasting no time," Evans said. "I think this might be the hardest we've ever worked coming out of a December into January. Specifically, the tempo is much faster. Strength and conditioning coaches are hands on. They broke the workout groups down to six people in each position so they can focus more on us."

On Florida winning the national title...
"It's always good to see the SEC winning a national championship, but at the same time, we feel we could be in that position. Instead of seeing LSU and Florida winning, we feel that Georgia can be a winner, so that's how we're going in there and working out."

On any motivation they take from Florida's success...
"I feel that the score of 49-10 speaks for itself. Nobody wants to feel that 49-10 again. That's pretty much what everybody is thinking about 49-10, every time we get in the weight room. If that doesn't drive you, I don't know what will."

-- I'll have more notes tomorrow (I'm still transcribing interviews!) and I'll have full stories at over the weekend and early next week.

Oh, and BTW... I know a couple people have been asking about special teams -- No coaches were available Thursday, only players, so I couldn't ask about that specifically. In talking to a few players who are heavily involved in special teams, however, the sentiment seemed to be that there would be a renewed focus on special teams, but no major overhaul in how they are handled.


Anonymous said...

As someone who currently lives far, far away from Georgia I'm really excited that ESPN is broadcasting the g-game. I cant wait to preview the 2009 offense. Will sturdivant be back for the spring?

David Hale said...

No, he won't but he's progressing extremely well. I hope to have a full story on him within a few days. There will be a number of guys held out of spring, but all should be 100 percent for the fall.