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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Football Notes (2/19)

The always magnanimous Michael Carvell suggested to me yesterday that these long posts would be better if I bolded the names of players, etc. to make them stand out. Since his post about my Damon Evans interview currently has 219 comments, and my post currently has six, I'm going to take his advice. Thanks, Mike!

-- The cast on his wrist could have been looked at as a nice ticket out of the most intense of offseason workouts for Georgia tailback Richard Samuel. The freshman will miss spring practice after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his wrist, and while he hasn't missed much time in the gym, his workouts have been limited.

The trend will continue this spring when, instead of donning full pads and taking some big hits, Samuel will be limited to core workouts and cardiovascular exercise while his wrist heals.

"It's going to be real difficult because I'm a guy that likes to be out there, and I like to participate," Samuel said. "Being injured, you don't have to go through all that stuff and it's kind of good sometimes, but I don't like that. I like being a part of things and going through whatever I have to go through."

When spring practices begin next month, both Samuel and fellow freshman Dontavius Jackson will be on the sidelines watching Caleb King and Carlton Thomas split reps. The time off is particularly frustrating for Samuel, who is in the mix to take over for Knowshon Moreno as the team's starting running back.

"It really set me back," Samuel said. "I'm not able to work out as much as I wanted to. I'm not able to participate in mat drills like I wanted to. It really dampened how I was ready to get into things and start participating to get into the battle for that running back position."

Despite missing some key practice time this spring, Samuel expects to be ready to go this fall, and he hopes he can use the summer vacation to make up for lost time.

"I'm going to take full advantage of the summer workouts," Samuel said. "That month of May when we have off, I'm going to take that and study the playbook and get in the weight room every day."

-- During Georgia's signing day festivities two weeks ago, head coach Mark Richt said he would embrace an opportunity to open the season on a Thursday night against Oklahoma State, particularly with a tough matchup against South Carolina looming the next week. An extra few days to prepare is always appreciated, after all.

While Richt may be all for playing a midweek matchup, Georgia athletics director Damon Evans wasn't as enthused.

"We won't play Thursday night football," Evans said. "That's our stance right now, and I've talked to Mark about that. That just goes against the philosophy of this institution."

Evans said that the Thursday games obstruct academics for players and students, even for away games such as this year's Georgia opener, citing the numerous students who would likely travel for the game.

"This has been a philosophy of ours for a long time in which we had said even in the negotiations of the television contracts that we would not play Thursday night football," Evans said. "It was done (that way) before I was here, and that's the philosophy that I have. I respect what Mark's opinion is, but at the end of the day, Thursday night football is not in the cards for the University of Georgia."

As it turned out, not only did Georgia miss out on the Thursday festivities, but the Gamecocks landed the date and will have the extra three days to get ready for their conference opener against the Bulldogs.

-- Tight end Aron White was hardly an offensive superstar last year, but when he managed to work his way onto the field, he usually made good things happen.

The redshirt freshman caught just three passes all year, but two went for touchdowns including Georgia's only touchdown against Florida and third was a 48-yard bomb. While his impact may have been minimal in the big picture, White said the success was a big boost to his confidence.

"It really served as a motivator for me making those couple of plays," he said. "I kind of proved to myself that I can get out here and play with these guys and not just get in and play a couple snaps in two tights or something like that."

The big knock on White to date has been his size. At a lean 230 pounds, he hardly fits the bill of the prototypical tight end. As a pass catcher, he's more than capable, but his challenge has been getting strong enough to work as a blocker, too.

With that in mind, White said he hopes to add as much as 10 pounds this offseason in order to play a bigger role with the offense in 2009. What he won't do, however, is add weight just for the sake of getting bigger.

"I think what I'm really trying to do is gain weight but gain it in the right way," White said. "I don't want to come out and supplement six times a day and just life weights and not run and come out there and be sloppy and slow but able to move a guy off the ball."

-- He may still not have a secure job as a starter on defense, but there aren't many Bulldogs fans who aren't aware of linebacker Darryl Gamble's talents.

In limited duty the past two years, Gamble has been responsible for some of Georgia's biggest defensive plays a forced fumble against Vanderbilt that helped the Bulldogs to a comeback win in 2007, and two interception returns for touchdowns against LSU a year ago.

The way Gamble sees it, however, that's just the problem. While he's managed some impressive highlights, he hasn't solidified a career.

"That's what I want to do, just start and be a leader out there and make more plays," Gamble said. "I don't want to just be known for certain situations like freshman year, it was Vanderbilt. That's all I was remembered for. Last year, LSU. I just want to be consistent, all around."

Gamble may be selling his 2008 season a bit short. He finished third on the team in tackles and started six games, including four at middle linebacker. He missed Georgia's bowl game with a broken leg, however, but expects to be 100 percent for spring practice and hopes to nail down that elusive starting gig at middle linebacker in the fall.

"That's where I started at and know the most about, so I guess that's where I'm going to be until somebody moves me," Gamble said. "But it's the same as last year wherever I'm needed, that's where I'll be at."

-- Jeff Owens has been a man on a mission in the Georgia locker room this offseason. Sure, he's pushing his teammates in workouts, but his top priority has been pestering them for material for his new blog.

"He's real excited about it," said fellow defensive tackle Geno Atkins. "He's been asking everybody to do a little questionnaire for him."

As one of Owens' closest friends on the team, Atkins figured to be an early target for the burgeoning author, but so far, no requests have come, he said.

"He hasn't hit me up yet," Atkins said. "He's saving the best for last."


Robert said...

I like your new--bold look, DH.

It really does make it easier to see who you are talking about.

But, either way would be fine with me.

Anonymous said...

"We won't play Thursday night football"

-Thank you, Damon.

Ben said...

I respect the academic integrity part of it.....but cmon. That is the only game on TV that night. Lots of exposure up for grabs. The athletes can make up their "missed" classes on a Sunday night with their tudor.

Anonymous said...

As a student that graduated in 08, I have always wondered what it was like to have a game on a Thursday night. I know how Athens is on a gameday Saturday, especially if it's a night game, so I would imagine that nothing gets done academically on Thursday or Friday if there's a Thursday night game. I respect Damon Evans for taking that into consideration.