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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Practice Notes: Penalties No Problem

Throughout the preseason, Mark Richt made cutting down on penalties a focus. Two games into the season, Georgia ranks 109th in penalties, but given the intensity his team has shown, Richt isn’t complaining.

“If you have to chose between the team playing the way we played with the amount of energy, fire and enthusiasm the whole game, and if the byproduct of that is penalties, I’ll take that over a team that doesn’t have a penalty but doesn’t have a pulse to go with it,” Richt said.

Georgia was flagged 13 times in a win over South Carolina last Saturday bringing the team’s total to 20 for the season. The numbers have been offset, however, by a barrage of penalties against the opposition, too. Oklahoma State was whistled for 15 penalties in Georgia’s opener and South Carolina had 11 flags, including two that overturned touchdowns, last week.

“Some games get wild,” Richt said. “That game got wild.”

Richt said the key for Georgia will be reducing the number of avoidable penalties like offsides calls or having too many men on the field. What he doesn’t want to see happen is players like safety Reshad Jones, who was flagged for personal fouls in each of the first two games, reduce their intensity on game day.

“I love the way he is playing,” Richt said of Jones. “I don’t think he has tried to hurt anybody. As far as the sideline play (against South Carolina), I think he was trying to tackle the guy. You are running full speed, and reaching out and grabbing what you can. Going back to the other play at Oklahoma State, I think he did everything right.”

Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said Jones' flag against South Carolina was originally deemed a late hit by the referees on the field, but was later clarified to be a horse-collar tackle. Martinez said after reviewing the film that he agreed with the assessment.


Freshman receiver Rantavious Wooten joked with senior Michael Moore after Saturday’s game that he finally had a chance to run a route. Wooten was in on just one play against South Carolina, but it was one more play than he had earned a week earlier. The fact that it was a passing play made it even better.

“He’s building off of that, and he’s excited now,” Moore said.

Wooten and fellow freshman Marlon Brown saw just three combined reps in Georgia’s second game of the season after being shut out of playing time in the opener, but quarterback Joe Cox said the lack of action isn’t a knock on their skills. The coaches are simply easing them into the game plan.

“I definitely think they can help us but we want to make sure they know what to do,” Cox said. “It gets crazy just trying to hear my call in the huddle and when we start moving tight ends and doing certain motions with them – we just want o make sure they have everything down. They definitely have ability, but you don’t want to have them come in and miss something important because they weren’t sure.”

The close games Georgia has played in each of the first two weeks haven’t helped matters, but Cox said he’s confident Brown and Wooten will both see increased action as the season progresses.

“It probably would have been different if we’d have put (South Carolina) away,” Cox said. “Then I’m sure Marlon and Rantavious would have gotten a lot of plays. I know they’re ready to play as far as their mentality, but we need to make sure they’ve got everything down in our game plan and they’ll definitely start to get on the field more and more.”


With Rod Battle going down with a season-ending knee injury, virtually everyone on Georgia's defense is taking a deep sigh of relief that Justin Houston returns from a two-game suspension this week.

But as excited as the coaches might be, it's defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who had to sub for Battle throughout much of last week's game, that might be the happiest to have the sophomore defensive end back for this week's contest.

"He took 33 snaps at defensive end last game, so I believe he'll appreciate me a lot coming back," Houston said.


Georgia will be without senior linebacker Darius Dewberry for a second straight week, Richt said, and sophomore Nick Williams is questionable after sitting out last week’s contest against South Carolina.

“It would be nice to have all those guys healthy,” Richt said. “Dewberry was playing extremely well, and Nick was another one of those young guys who was getting better everyday at practice, and you hate to slow down that progress.”

With Dewberry, a Peach County alum, and Williams sidelined, South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders found plenty of room to get open and finished the game with eight catches for 96 yards. Richt said Darryl Gamble will likely get the task of stopping All-SEC tight end D.J. Williams against Arkansas this week, but the linebacking crew will also get some help from a senior Marcus Washington, who had been moved to defensive end at the start of fall camp.

“Marcus is back at linebacker because we’ve lost a couple of guys there, but he could still be a swing guy in case of an emergency,” linebackers coach John Jancek said. “We’ll go into the game using him as a linebacker and possibly move him to defensive end as well.”


Richt said Tuesday morning that the status of tailback Caleb King isn't much different this Tuesday than it was last -- it's a mystery.

But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said King made it through the entirety of Tuesday's practice, which was a crucial first step toward getting the sophomore back onto the field.
"He looked better than last week, so that's a good sign, but we'll see how he progresses through the week," Bobo said.


Safety Quintin Banks has had a hard time staying healthy for the past two years, so now that he’s finally been cleared to start playing again after a knee injury last month, the coaches are taking it slow.

A year ago, the former Houston County standout played in just one game due to a myriad of injuries, and he missed Georgia’s opener this season as well. Banks was dressed for last week’s game against South Carolina but did not play.

“He’s able to play, but he hasn’t had a lot of practice reps,” Richt said. “He hasn’t done a lot of things full speed. I wouldn’t say that he is 100 percent back to the best Quintin Banks can be.”


Richt said one of the most promising developments from Georgia’s first game to its second was the progress made by the freshmen on special teams. At the top of that list, Richt said, is former Northside star Abry Jones, who complimented an increased amount of playing time at defensive tackle with a strong performance on Georgia’s kick return unit that tallied 252 yards last week.

“He has a lot of ability, but he has a ways to go on his fundamentals,” Richt said. “He has a ways to go on every little thing that you have to learn, but we feel like he is going to get better in a hurry, which he is. Abry is moving very rapidly into a very fine player and I think the sky is the limit for him.”


Perhaps the most perplexing part of Georgia's win over South Carolina was the emergence then sudden disappearance of tailback Richard Samuel.

On Georgia's first scoring drive offensively, Samuel had five touches including an 11-yard run and a 16-yard reception, capping the series with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter. After that, however, Samuel got just one more carry in the first half -- also an 11-yard dash -- while Carlton Thomas was on the field throughout much of the second quarter, including working as the pitch man on Branden Smith's 61-yard run on a reverse.

Bobo said Samuel's absence was due to a combination of the play calls and a desire to get the sophomore tailback some rest.

"(Samuel) had ran several times on that drive and ran physically hard, and we just wanted to get him out of the game," Bobo said. "The play for the reverse called for Carlton. … It was the plays we were calling and the players we have for those calls."


With Cox hurting, fans assumed they'd see a bit more of backup quarterback Logan Gray against South Carolina, but that wasn't the case.

Just as he had a week earlier against Oklahoma State, Gray got just one snap on offense, and the rationale behind his absence was simply the pace dictated by the game.

"This game we had only 53 snaps and losing possessions hurt his opportunity to go in the game," Bobo said. "Joe was very effective when he was in there and we didn't want to break the rhythm he was in."

Gray will get all the snap with the No. 1 unit during Wednesday's practice again this week, and that will be the routine throughout the season. While Bobo wouldn't guarantee more playing time for the sophomore quarterback on game day, he said the extra action with the first-team offense in practice can be a big stepping stone in Gray's development.

"It's beneficial for him that he's getting a lot of first-team reps and continuing to grow as a quarterback and establish himself as a leader in that huddle with the first group," Bobo said. "The more he becomes comfortable on the practice field, the greater the chance he'll have to get more significant playing time."


Georgia just dodged the rain for Tuesday's practice, but the effort was a bit dreary still, Richt said.

"It was a little bit sluggish," he said. "I'm sure the game Saturday took a good bit out of them. We've got time to get them ready to play by Saturday."

Richt also announced his captains for this week's game against Arkansas. Clint Boling is the offensive captain, while DeAngelo Tyson gets the nod for the defense. After several key special-teams plays made the difference in Georgia's win over South Carolina last week, Richt made a rare move of naming two captains -- Brandon Boykin and Rennie Curran -- from that unit this week.

"We've probably done it before while I've been at Georgia but I can't really remember a time off the top of my head – at least recently – when we've done so," Richt said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Easy big fella with the "had we just put them away comment". Nice to have some confidence but let's not go over board!