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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Practice Notes: Longo Done For Spring

Just when coaches thought things couldn't get much worse for Georgia's defensive ends, another Bulldogs pass rusher has been shelved for the spring.

Freshman Jeremy Longo suffered a shoulder injury that will likely keep him off the practice field for the remainder of spring practice, head coach Mark Richt announced Tuesday. Longo was hurt during Monday's scrimmage, suffering what Richt called a "sublex" injury, which momentarily shifts the shoulder out of joint.

"It didn't dislocate," Richt said. "Sometimes those will create enough damage where you need to operate, but they don't think is one of those situations. But it's going to be sore enough where I doubt he gets back in before spring is over."

That leaves Georgia with just two healthy scholarship players at the position – Justin Houston and Kiante Tripp, who just moved from the offensive line last month.

With so few players to fill the void lefty by the myriad injuries at the position Georgia's coaches have been forced to resort to desperate measures.

"We took two of our walk-on tight ends, and I'm not even sure which two we took, and moved them to defensive end to help us get through the rest of the time," Richt said.

Beyond the sudden shift of the walk-ons, Richt promises few other changes. While the situation at defensive end has become dire, he said it was crucial to make sure the rest of the players were able to get in the requisite work they need to improve this spring.

"We're not going to cancel spring ball, we're not going to stop practicing, we're not going to quit tackling, we're not going to quit going full speed," Richt said. "We've just got a lot of guys that need a lot of work, and we want to continue to improve on the tempo of really both sides of the ball. We're not going to back down."


Sure, several of Georgia's top offensive linemen are sidelined with injuries, but Mark Richt isn't sure it would matter who was lined up across from defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

"Geno is just a dominant football player right now," Richt said. "I don't know if anybody can block him."

For his part, however, Atkins is playing it coy. He said he definitely feels his game has improved – and he did have two sacks during Monday's scrimmage that was largely won by the offense – but he said there's still plenty of things he hopes to improve before he hits the field this fall.

"I feel like I've still got a lot to work on, but my pass rushing skills have gotten better," Atkins said. "I felt like I needed to work on my fundamentals and my footwork and have a better pass-rush game."


While Atkins has been dominant, Richt said he has seen plenty of other Bulldogs step up their games this spring as well.

Near the top of his list of spring standouts has been linebacker Nick Williams, who had six tackles in Monday's scrimmage and is making a quick adjustment to his new position after moving from safety last fall.

"Nick Williams made some great strides," Richt said. "He's still learning what to do, but he's a guy who will play hard, will stick his face on you and try to run through you. He's certainly got some technique issues right now, but his effort, his attitude and his toughness have really showed."

Ah, but it wouldn't be like Richt to dispense small doses of platitudes when he could heap some praise on a handful of other top performers as well.

Here's a quick run-down, via Richt, of the top spring performances…

"A.J. Green, I thought he's done outstanding. Joe Cox has total control of everything he was trying to do. I think Cordy Glenn has been practicing extremely well. I thought Bryan Evans played with great energy and enthusiasm. Bryan had a nice day. (Vance) Cuff is coming along. Cuff, for a guy that when spring started wasn't even getting any reps, he's really had a nice spring so far. Rennie (Curran) is outstanding. (Akeem) Dent is playing well."

Richt said that depth chart decisions are usually made after the first scrimmage, but he had not had a chance to discuss any changes with his assistants prior to Tuesday's practice.


While the injuries at defensive end continue to mount for the Bulldogs, two other players who have spent the spring in green non-contact jerseys appear close to returning.

Running back Dontavius Jackson has participated in many of the non-contact drills this spring and Richt said he could be good to go at full speed by this weekend or early next week.

Richt also said linebacker Akeem Hebron appears ready to return to full participation by this weekend as well.


Georgia's freshmen quarterbacks have been the center of attention, and Logan Gray said he has been impressed by their progress. But when it comes to the battle to land the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, Gray isn't too concerned with what the young pups on the roster are doing.

"I'm watching them every day in practice, but all I've tried to focus on is myself and every single rep that I take," Gray said. "No matter what they do, that doesn't have any outcome on my situation."


Wide receiver Kris Durham sat out of Monday's practice with a minor shoulder injury, but he said he returned to individual drills Tuesday and doesn't anticipate any longterm problems.

"It's fine," he said. "I was out there today and did some individual (workouts) and other stuff, just trying to work it back in."


Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford held an individual workout for the Detroit Lions on Tuesday in hopes of securing his spot as the first overall pick in next month's NFL draft. While the workout was meant for a select audience, several of his former teammates and coaches dropped by to check out his performance.

"I came down and watched a little bit of it," Kris Durham said. "I had to show a little support. He looked pretty good out there. Hopefully he can settle that No. 1 spot."

Durham said Stafford has remained fairly stoic throughout the process, a fact that isn't at all surprising for those who know the quarterback well.

"That's just his personality," Durham said. "You can tell he has that confidence, and whoever wants him, he's going to go in there and show what he can do."


Mark Richt said the team will have two more short practices this week and will scrimmage for the second time on Saturday. Last week's rained out practice session resulted in a five-practice week for the Bulldogs, which is something Richt hadn't done in the past.

"I don't know if we've gone five practices in one week since I've been here during spring ball, but that's the plan for now," Richt said.


Billy Barou said...

David, this might be totally ridiculous considering how dominant he's been at tackle, but lets say none of our ends really REALLY step up their games during the fall, and assuming we stay relatively healthy, do you think it is possible we might see some of Geno at buck end? I mean, with him at Buck, and Kade and Jeff Owens on the inside, not too many teams are going to run on us, that's for sure...and he's probably as good a pass rusher as we've got right now...

David Hale said...

I don't see that happening just because Geno is so good on the interior line, and I don't think Richt would make any decision that might hurt Atkins future in the NFL.

More over, it sounds like everyone at DE should be back to full healthy by June. If that doesn't happen, well I guess they might explore some options then.

The Cuatro said...

I heard Nick Williams went down yesterday... any truth to that?

David Hale said...

No one asked specifically but Richt made a point of mentioning Nick's strong play, so I'd be surprised if anything serious occurred. I'll look into it further today though.