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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits: Week 3

Light day of interviews this morning. Only three players were made available for the media, so we're not quite as overwhelmed with info as usual, but here's some of what we learned from Georgia's Tuesday news conference.

-- Mark Richt was exceptionally pleased with Georgia's special teams, particularly the kick return unit. Six of the starters on that unit are freshmen and Justin Fields is the lone senior, and their work against Oklahoma State was abysmal, Richt said. Of Georgia's five kick returns in the opener, Richt said there wasn't a single play in which just three members of the front five made their block and only once did two of them execute properly.

"They got called out, not in a real bad way, but we said, 'Men, we've got to have production,'" Richt said.

The improvement from week 1 to week 2, Richt said, was "astounding."

Richt said all five of the front five executed their blocks on Brandon Boykin's 100-yard return and he said the work remained strong throughout the game.

-- Richt said he wasn't exactly thrilled with Georgia's 13 penalties, but he wasn't too upset either. "The enthusiasm for really the whole game, if a byproduct of that is some penalties, I'll take that over a team that doesn't ever have a penalty but also doesn't have a pulse."

-- Along those lines, Richt said he's not chastising Reshad Jones any for the two personal foul flags he's gotten in Games 1 and 2. Richt said he doesn't think refs are targeting Jones, but he said he's been happy with how the junior safety has handled his job.

"I love the way he's playing, and I love the energy he's playing with," Richt said. "I don't think he tried to hurt anybody as far as the sideline play. He was just trying to tackle the guy. The other play at Okie State, I think he did everything right. … I don't want to say anything to Reshad except just keep playing real hard."

-- Richt joked about the variety of big news surrounding Joe Cox that has come out the past two weeks and said he had planned to make his quarterback show up for today's news conference wearing an eye patch.

That didn't happen, but Cox was wearing tape on his left ring finger. Cox said he jammed the finger trying to tackle Eric Norwood six yards deep in the end zone following an interception. "I guess that's what I get for throwing a pick six," Cox said.

-- Cox said his shoulder injury -- which was first reported last week -- first began causing him problems in February. He said he took several days off during the spring from throwing, and the plan to take Wednesday practices off from throwing this fall had been in place since then. The reports that he would be benched in favor of Logan Gray only surfaced last week because someone mistakenly assumed Cox's off day was an indication that he wouldn't play.

While Cox said the injury hasn't affected him in a game situation at all and doesn't hurt when he throws, he said the fact that Gray is getting significant practice time with the No. 1 unit is a silver lining.

-- Cox said he thinks Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown are more than ready to play, but said he thinks coaches have been reluctant to put them in the huddle during key situations because their knowledge of the offense is still limited. He said he expects that to change as the season goes along.

-- Richt said he didn't know who would start at guard this week -- Chris Davis or Justin Anderson. The official depth chart from the school has Davis listed as the starter, but Anderson started last week's game. Either way, Richt said, both will see significant action this week.

-- Richt raved about the work Abry Jones has done and pointed to him as one of the freshmen on special teams to make the biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.

-- Richt said he isn't sure whether Marcus Washington will primarily see action at linebacker or defensive end this week. Justin Houston returns at D-end, but the team lost starter Rod Battle to a season-ending knee injury. The linebacker corps took a hit last week, however, with Nick Williams and Darius Dewberry missing the game. Richt said Williams has a chance to return this week but Dewberry will not play.

-- Darryl Gamble is currently listed as Georgia's starting Sam linebacker, but Richt said the team would prefer to have him at Mike. Marcus Dowtin is listed as the starter there.

-- Caleb King's status for this week appears no different from last week -- he's questionable and will need to prove he can last through a full practice before his playing time is considered.

-- Josh Davis was cleared to return to action after missing the first two games while recovering from two offseason shoulder surgeries. Richt said he wasn't sure how much work the junior tackle would get this week.

-- Quintin Banks was cleared to play last week but he didn't see action in the South Carolina game. "He's able to play, but he hasn't had a lot of practice reps, and I wouldn't say he's 100 percent back to the best Quintin Banks he can be," Richt said.

-- Richt said he was pleased with the penetration that the pass rush got last week against South Carolina, but complained that the containment was lacking, pointing mostly to the interior part of the defensive line. "I would have liked to have seen the big men inside squeezing better than they did and making more plays," he said.

-- Richt noted that due to a low-end opening opponent and a bye week last week, he figured Arkansas had been game planning for Georgia for quite some time. While the off week before the game isn't as crucial for getting players fresh this early in the season, Richt said it's that extra time to game plan that makes a key difference. He noted, too, that Georgia's next opponent, Arizona State, will also have had a bye and two games vs. non-BCS conference teams leading up to their date with the Bulldogs.


Anonymous said...

David- what's your take on the effect that a bye week has for a team's preparation? I would argue that while Arkansas may be fresher after playing a nobody and having a bye week, it could also very much work against them. I feel like Georgia may have the edge in that department because we've already played 2 pretty tough teams so we kind of know what to expect out of our own team and the opponent's team. Just wondering. Thanks for all the great info!

Anonymous said...

I agree that our players have the advantage of playing strong, fast opponents. I think it will be important in both the Ark & ASU games for us to get off to a quick start and take advantage of the opponents adjusting to the speed and intensity of a non-cupcake opponent.