Happy first day of fall practice. Today is Georgia's preseason media day, which means we'll get a Mark Richt news conference at noon, followed by interviews with a handful of players. I'll update any news from those as they happen via Twitter (you can follow me HERE) and I'll have notes posted throughout the day on the blog. Practice begins at 3:30, and the first 12 periods are open to media, so I'll try to get some video and additional notes up after that.
In the meantime, I put together a list of 10 intriguing depth chart battles to watch this month. Here's a preview...
1.) Starting tailback
The departure of Knowshon Moreno for the NFL leaves a gaping hole on Georgia's offense, and sophomore Caleb King failed to capitalize on a chance to nail down the job this spring. While Richard Samuel, who is recovering from wrist surgery, Carlton Thomas, Dontavius Jackson and new freshman Washaun Ealey could all push for the job, too, it's perhaps as likely that the Bulldogs will instead employ a committee approach when the season begins.
2.) No. 3 receiver
Michael Moore had a breakout game against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, and Georgia hopes he can fill the void left by Mohamed Massaquoi, but Moore is best as a slot receiver, leaving the split end job open for someone to help take the pressure off A.J. Green. Tavarres King, Israel Troupe and freshman Marlon Brown are the top candidates.
3.) Middle linebacker
Junior Darryl Gamble filled in admirably for injured senior Dannell Ellerbe last season, but it's Akeem Dent's name atop the depth chart at middle linebacker this fall. Gamble is listing as the starting Sam linebacker, but with more teams running the spread offense, that position spends plenty of time on the sideline as defense are forced to use five or more defensive backs. Gamble will push for playing time in the middle, along with senior Marcus Washington, who returns from injury this fall, and sophomore Marcus Dowtin, who impressed in limited action last year.
Mark Richt grabbed headlines last season by promising to go to Poland to find a kicker whose leg could reach the end zone on kickoffs. As it turned out, he only had to go to California. Junior college transfer Brandon Bogotay arrives this fall to push sophomore Blair Walsh for kickoff duties and perhaps more.
5.) No. 2 quarterback
Joe Cox is firmly established as Georgia's quarterback this year, but the future remains up for grabs and this fall could go a long way to determining who is under center in 2010. Sophomore Logan Gray is No. 2 on the depth chart now and had a nice spring, but Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger both have tons of talent, too. Richt said if either freshman can prove they deserve to be the No. 2 guy, he'll find a way to play them this year.