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Friday, August 14, 2009

Practice Notes: Pool day gives Bulldogs a break

Georgia coach Mark Richt had the perfect remedy for Thursday’s sub-par practice — a little pool time, and a lot of watermelon.

With a kicking scrimmage in between, the Bulldogs spent two hours at Ramsey Center pool in lieu of practice Friday morning before ending the day with their annual watermelon cutting at Sanford Stadium.

The swim break was much needed.

“We’ve been grinding all camp, and hot, sweaty, your body’s aching, you’re sore,” said senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens. “In the back of our minds we’re thinking we need the time to rest. And what do you know. A swim day.”

Like every camp, many Bulldogs tested their mettle on Ramsey’s 30-meter high dive — the smallest of which was not 320-pound freshman Kwame Geathers.

“A couple of big guys jumped off, like Kwame Geathers,” said junior linebacker Rennie Curran. “He was huge. I saw a lot of waves coming up.”

The tradition of surprising his players with a trip to Ramsey has been a staple under Richt, and Friday, with the final scrimmage of camp set for Saturday, was no exception. Players said they actually boarded the bus to go to Sanford, and when they got there, just kept on going.

Richt, never one to shy away from the high dive, actually jumped in with all his clothes on this time around.

“You gotta love a coach that gets in with the fellas like that,” Owens said.

But not everybody fared so well — Curran said he did a flip and landed on his face, and redshirt freshman linebacker Jackson Griffeth attempted something along the lines of a triple backflip.

Emphasis on “back.”

“Griffeth hit his back, you can’t beat that,” Owens said. “It looked bad.”

Griffeth, with a heavily bruised back, was held out of practice during Friday’s evening session.

“I’d hate to think about what it’s going to look like in a couple days,” Richt said.


Once the Bulldogs did get on the practice field Friday, they held a kicking scrimmage.

As Richt has said all camp, there’s still a pretty good race between Blair Walsh and Brandon Bogotay on kickoffs, but Friday was all about finding the right guys to surround them.

“We’ve got an awful lot of guys that we’re trying to figure out who should be on these kicking teams,” Richt said. “On Monday I’m going to meet with the offense, defense and special teams, we might even put up a mock travel team, to see who would make the trip … I just want to make sure we’re practicing the right guys.”

Since it is a non-conference game, there will be no restrictions on the number of players Georgia can take to its season opener with Oklahoma State. But Richt said he wants it to be close to the 70-player limit imposed on road SEC games, and will likely be between 70 and 80.

As to who those Bulldogs will be, it’s still a work in progress.

“We want guys that can run and hit even if they’re not the starter on the defense to be the best kickoff coverage guy, the best punt return and block guy,” Richt said. “So that’s what we’re looking for. I will say this: We’ve got so many more healthy bodies running down the field right now than we’ve had in a long time. I’m very confident we’re going to have the right type of personnel on these teams, we’ve just got to figure out whose the best.”


With Quintin Banks likely out for a few weeks with another knee injury and Reshad Jones still finding his way back, Makiri Pugh will be getting more reps at the strong safety position.

He had been working primarily at free safety behind Bryan Evans, but Pugh, a 6-foot, 196-pound redshirt freshman, said Friday he doesn’t have a preference either way.

“I’m just really looking forward to getting on the field,” he said. “I’m trying to help the team out, moving around a lot. I don’t think it’s really hurt me, it’s made me more versatile.”

Richt said Thursday that Bacarri Rambo, another redshirt freshman, is the No. 1 guy at strong safety for the moment.


Marlon Brown had heard the stories about LSU fans distributing Knowshon Moreno’s cell phone number or the harassment Tim Tebow receives from opposing fans on the road. He knew the SEC was tough – even off the field. But it wasn’t until he ran into his first major bit of controversy just weeks after arriving at Georgia that he realized how bad things could be.

“I just got to school, and something already happened,” said Brown, Georgia’s freshman receiver. “I hadn’t been at school a month and something was already stirred up a controversy about me.”

The controversy surrounded comments Brown apparently made on his Facebook page, some of which alluded to taking money from coaches and included racial overtones. As it turned out, however, the Facebook page was created by someone else – not Brown – and the controversy came as much as a surprise to him as his coaches.

“The thing about the Facebook is that I heard crazy rumors about it,” Brown said. “Me and Coach Richt talked about it, and it was just crazy stuff.”

Richt and other Georgia officials went so far as to contact Facebook to find the culprit, but Brown had already learned a hard lesson about being a high-profile player in the SEC.

Brown said Georgia’s coaches have addressed the team about the need to carefully monitor their posts on social networking sites such as Facebook.


Defensive tackle Brandon Wood isn’t part of Georgia’s allotted 105 players during fall camp as he recovers from shoulder and wrist surgery. Instead, Wood is simply working with the training staff to rehab and get in shape for the start of the season.

While the missed practice time is problematic, defensive tackles coach Rodney Garner said, the important thing is making sure Wood is fully healed before he puts his body to the test under game conditions.

“Brandon’s biggest thing since he’s been here has been injuries,” Garner said. “The kid has a lot of talent, and you’d like to see what he can do if he can stay healthy.”

—Tyler Estep

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