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Saturday, April 10, 2010

G-Day Notes: Defense Plays It Safe

Fletcher Page will have a full story on the defense in tomorrow's Telegraph, and I'll have some video highlights of Todd Grantham, Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin a bit later this week.

Overall, I'm not sure there's much we can say about the defense from G-Day, since we really didn't see a lot. But here are some quotes from the players that may be of interest.

Bacarri Rambo on how far the D has come...
“From Day 1 to right now, we have proven so much, but we still have a lot to learn. We didn’t use none of our plays today. We were just in our base stuff. We’ve still got a lot to learn, but we’ve improved. Day 1, guys were like, ‘We’re never going to get this.’ But now we know what we’re doing. Now everybody’s got to go out there and communicate. That’s the biggest thing we’ve got to improve at.”

Jakar Hamilton on Todd Grantham's sideline demeanor...
“Coach Todd Grantham is going to fuss at you regardless. But if you can’t take coaches getting on you and critiquing you, you’re not a football player. I just try to take it and be positive about it and then the next time that play comes, I’ll execute it. I take all their advice because he came from the NFL and that’s where I’m trying to get to.”

Hamilton on how of the D fans got to see today...
“They haven’t seen none of the defense. This was none of it. That’s just the basics. There’s so much to this defense that we have in store, so to the fans, we’ve got a lot that’s coming and that we’re putting in. So, SEC, be ready.”

Aaron Murray on how much the D showed today...
“Very little, but we know what they can do. They still haven’t even implemented a good amount of the defense. The first couple of games, you all are going to see some crazy blitzes. The offenses aren’t going to know what to do with them. So it’s going to be exciting those first couple of games to see what they can do.”

Mark Richt on having Grantham on the sidelines...
“He’s intense, there’s no doubt. That’s what you want is a guy that’s got some fire in him. Everybody knows my demeanor and has a little bit of a feel for that. I think it’s probably good to have somebody who’s a little more outwardly excited. I do get excited on the inside sometimes, but it’s good to have that energy on the sidelines.”


Hauling in the game-winning score in an intrasquad scrimmage isn’t necessarily a career highlight, but Arthur Lynch’s 39-yard touchdown reception in the waning seconds of the first half helped his black team earn a 17-7 win and helped put his name into the mix on a crowded depth chart at tight end.

With just 12 seconds left to play in a tie game, quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit Lynch over the middle. The sophomore tight end then rumbled over safety Shawn Williams and into the end zone for the score on what proved to be one of the most impressive plays of the game.

“It was a good ball by Zach, it was a good call by Coach (Stacy) Searels, who was calling the plays for us,” Lynch said. “I was able to break the tackle and get my feet under me and then get to the end zone.”

The catch proved to be a rare glimpse of Lynch’s receiving skills after he spent much of his freshman campaign either blocking or watching from the sidelines.

With Bruce Figgins returning from a medical redshirt, Aron White established as a solid receiving target and Orson Charles developing into one of the SEC’s top tight ends in the passing game, Lynch said coaches told him he’d likely be a point man on blocks and work special teams, but Saturday’s effort gives him a chance to expand that role this fall.

“I wanted to get some film on me and make some plays out there, and this was a good way to do it,” Lynch said. “But this means something, but not everything. In reality, I have to go out there in camp and perform if I want to get out there on the field.”


It may not have quite the glamor of the quarterback competition, but the battle for the two vacant starting safety jobs proved to be every bit as intense.

Junior college transfer Jakar Hamilton, sophomore Bacarri Rambo and junior Nick Williams have rotated with the No. 1 unit defense, and Rambo said no favorite has risen to the top just yet.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, man, I’m just hoping I’ll be out there in the starting lineup,” Rambo said.

Williams was the game’s leading tackler with seven take-downs, while Rambo finished with two tackles and a pass break-up, and Hamilton made two tackles. Shawn Williams, who spent some time with the first-team defense earlier this spring, finished with four tackles while playing with the No. 2 unit Saturday.

A depth chart at the safety position is due next week, but Hamilton said he isn’t planning on any firm answers until the fall.

“I feel as if they’re still rotating right now,” he said. “Me and Rambo are rotating with Nick Williams with the 1s, and it’s a real good rotation. But we’re still working together, and we’re still working hard.”


Head coach Mark Richt spent most of the first half of Saturday’s game watching from the press box before returning to the field for the second half. From his vantage point above the field, however, he liked what he saw.

“I saw it looked sharp, looked organized, guys were playing hard and making plays on both sides of the ball,” Richt said.

There was just one penalty in the game – an offsides call on the defense – and for the most part the substitutions ran smoothly despite three coaches getting their first work under strict game conditions.

The only potential problem, Richt said, was the turnovers – of which there were three. Of course, even that isn’t a clear-cut issue during an intrasquad scrimmage, he said.

“In a G-Day game, I guess you’re happy that the defense caused the fumble,” Richt said. “You’re not happy that the offense had the fumbles, so I don’t know how you’re supposed to react to turnovers on G-Day.”


G-Day provided few fireworks on the field, and the special teams was largely ignored in order to keep the pace of the game moving quickly. But it was kicker Blair Walsh who provided fans with a rare bit of suspense near the end of the first half.

After the offense for the red team sputtered at the white team’s 43, Walsh came on to attempt a 61-yard field goal, which would have unofficially been a new school record.
As it turned out, however, Walsh didn’t get much air under the kick, and it was doomed from the start.

“I didn’t hit it good,” Walsh said. “I knew it wasn’t going in. But it was nice to get it, to go out and try it.”

Walsh said he’s booted field goals of 67 or 68 yards during practice, so he’s not discounting his ability to make one. And while it’s unlikely he’ll get another chance to connect from that distance in a real game, Richt said he wouldn’t necessarily rule it out.

“If there was a good enough breeze behind Blair, I’d consider doing it,” Richt said. “He could make it.”

Both Walsh and punter Drew Butler were honored at halftime for their nominations -- and in Butler's case, win -- of national awards last year.

Backup kicker Brandon Bogotay connected on G-Day's lone field goal, a 32-yarder with 2:24 to play.


Tailback Caleb King sat out of Saturday’s G-Day game with a sore knee, but Richt said the injury wasn’t a long-term concern.

“We’re not concerned,” Richt said. “It was just irritated and got a little swollen. We’re not sitting here thinking, oh boy we’re in trouble. We’re not thinking that at all. We think he’ll be fine in a week or two, and he’ll be able to do everything all summer and prepare. We don’t see that as anything where he’d have to have a surgery that would set him back or anything like that.”

Receiver Israel Troupe and linebacker Richard Samuel also missed Saturday’s game after both suffered concussions during last week’s scrimmage.

Richt said he thought the team came out of Saturday’s game without any significant injuries, too. Receiver Kris Durham was slightly shaken up after one catch, but later returned to the game. Linebacker Cornelius Washington limped off the field in the second half, and Richt said the injury didn’t appear to be anything more serious than a sprain.

The lone problem may be with right tackle Josh Davis, who suffered shoulder injury Saturday. Davis missed the start of last season after two shoulder surgeries.

“I don’t know how serious that was,” Richt said of Davis’ shoulder injury Saturday. “We don’t think it’s anything big, but time will tell.”


Lynch may owe his touchdown on G-Day to a nice throw from Mettenberger, but he’s still not calling the quarterback race for any one player just yet. The way he sees it, he said, each QB has plenty to offer.

On Mettenberger: “He’s had a great spring. He’s been able to make some plays with his arm, and that’s what he does best. The kid’s been gifted with an NFL arm and NFL size.”

On Logan Gray: “Logan is just an unbelievable athlete. It’s scary what he can do. You play with him in basketball, and he’s just dunking all over the place.”

On Aaron Murray: “Aaron is like almost a father out there. He’s wise beyond his years. I’m like, this kid is just a born leader.”

And you can read my game story about Georgia's quarterback battle HERE for plenty more on Mettenberger, Murray and Gray.


It wasn't a run-heavy G-Day contest, which might not be so surprising given Caleb King's absence.

Overall, Carlton Thomas led all runners with 54 yards on eight carries while playing for both teams. Dontavius Jackson had 43 yards on 11 carries and Washaun Ealey had just 22 yards on seven runs.

Richt said the biggest reason for the lack of success on the ground, however, was that the coaches purposefully kept the blocking schemes simplistic so opponents in the fall wouldn't have much tape to work from.

"The running game had a few bright moments, but I think part of what we were trying to accomplish in this game was not to give too much away in what we were going to do on either side of the ball," Richt said.

For the spring, there wasn't a single rushing touchdown reported from any of the three scrimmages.


Zach Mettenberger, QB – Mettenberger made his case for the starting quarterback job by completing 6-of-10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yarder to Arthur Lynch with 12 seconds to play in the first half that proved to be the game winner.

Kris Durham, WR – After missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, Durham has responded with a strong spring, capped by a 3-catch, 54-yard performance Saturday that included the game’s first touchdown.

Rantavious Wooten, WR – The sophomore led the Black team with three catches for 45 yards and added another 16 yards on an end-around in the first half.

Cornelius Washington, OLB – The transition to outside linebacker looks like it will be a successful one for Washington, who recorded five tackles and two sacks Saturday. Washington is one of several Bulldogs who shifted from defensive end to linebacker in the new 3-4 defensive scheme. On the day, Georgia’s defense recorded seven sacks.

Marcus Dowtin, ILB – Dowtin staked a claim for a starting job at inside linebacker, recording six tackles on the day – tied for the second most among any defensive player – and making the game’s only interception, which he returned 25 yards.


Anonymous said...

Is that an error? Dowtin had six sacks? Wow!

The Watch Dawg said...

Just doesn't say much to me about Gray as a QB when the best compliment his teammates continue to come up with is "he's just a great athlete. He's awesome at basketball."

David Hale said...

Yes, an error... sorry... six TACKLES.

Schlagdawg said...

I think the question on everyone's mind after the G-Day game is this:

Which depth chart competition is more important this spring: Justin Bieber v. Miley Cyrus for pre-game song, or Murray v. Mettenberger for QB?

I can only speak for the mother singing along behind me, but it appears Bieber is the fan favorite.

Conor said...

Do you get the feeling that if Mett isn't at the top of the QB depth chart, it's pretty much due to his extra-curricular activities?

brad said...

So great to see Kris Durham out there. He looked much faster than I remember.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to take anything away from the other team, but we really beat ourselves today.

Anonymous said...

There may have been only one penalty called, but after looking at it frame by frame I must say the defense jumped into the neutral zone several times before the snap. Also, weren't those clotheslines illegal, including the one Nick Williams had on Tavares King the play before Ealey swung at him?

Anonymous said...

Kris Durham has locked up the number 2 receiver job as far as I'm concerned.

which isn't very far...

Anonymous said...

So, Josh Davis is hurt with a shoulder injury for another year.?! WTF is wrong with our coaches...why are they rushing these Oline guys back from injury. THis is horse shiat! Anyone who knows anything about football can justify saving Sturdivant and Davis for the fall. this lies on Stacy/bobo/richt. Why not let them get to 100% before the season... especially after major surgery. So, lets say Josh Davis tore out a shoulder again. WTF!?! Then who is our starting unit for the fall....Boling (LT), Glenn (LG), Jones (C), C.Davis(RG), (RT)?????????? maybe Harmon, maybe Sturdivant...point is no one is a lock.......why push the pace on these guys OL injuries....FML

Anonymous said...

1:37 am anon jackass. Davis played over half the season last year on that shoulder. How long do you want it to heal? jackass