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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Notes: Plenty of Options at Punt Returner

John Lilly joked last week that he was looking into finding another year of eligibility for former Georgia corner Prince Miller. As a punt returner, Miller was a consistent threat, and that’s a weapon Lilly said won’t be easy to replace.

It’s not surprising then that Lilly – who took over special teams coordination duties from Jon Fabris this season – tried at least a half-dozen players at punt returner during the spring, and he’s still not much closer to making a decision on who will eventually land the job.

“We’ve rotated a lot of bodies back there and we haven’t really made any decisions as far as paring that down,” Lilly said. “That’s one of those things that’s going to go deep into the fall before we decide.”

Rantavious Wooten, Carlton Thomas, Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith and Bacarri Rambo all took reps at punt returner during spring practice, but the practices never progressed to a point where anyone could get a firm grasp on who might land the gig full time.

“We’re just catching balls right now,” Wooten said. “We haven’t set a depth chart or said it’s this guy or anything.”

Of course, the wild card in the competition could be Georgia’s star receiver, A.J. Green.

Green floated the idea a few weeks ago, and Lilly said the All-SEC receiver has been working at returner during practice for most of the past three years.

“He’s caught them his whole career here in practice,” Lilly said. “He has the ability. Everyone knows the kind of hands he’s got and he can judge the ball and do those kinds of things. … He’s certainly one of the guys that’s in the mix.”

The idea of using Georgia’s most dangerous offensive weapon for occasional special teams duty hasn’t necessarily met with universal approval from fans who worry that Green could get hurt.
Lilly realized the concerns, but he said it’s hard to ignore a weapon like Green, which makes the receiver’s presence in the return game a real possibility.

“I think in any position on the field and in any area of the kicking game, if somebody can help you win a football game and has that ability, you would use him there,” Lilly said of Green. “Some people would like to see it, some people wouldn’t want to see it. But if you talk to him, I think he’s love to do it. I don’t know if we’ll necessarily do that, but it’s nice to have it as an option.”


It began as an experiment early in the spring, but Aaron Murray said he plans to keep wearing a glove on his throwing hand – at least for a few more months.

Murray said he plans to use the glove during summer workouts before deciding whether the glove will remain a longterm fixture, but thus far, he’s been pleased with the results.

“I felt comfortable with it, I felt I’ve done well with it over the spring, and I feel like I have more control over the ball,” Murray said. “We’ll probably see how I do over the summer with the heat and see if that has anything to do with it, and I’ll talk with (the coaching staff) and keep them updates on how I feel with it.”


Darryl Gamble didn’t get much practice time at outside linebacker before being thrown into the fire at G-Day, but all things considered, he’s pleased with his progress.

“I did all right having just off two days of practice,” Gamble said of his G-Day performance. “I mean, there wasn’t anything difficult to try to understand. I think I did a pretty good job in my assignments, and I didn’t have anything bad happen while I was out there.”

That’s more than enough to keep Gamble in the mix at a position seriously lacking depth – with just three other scholarship players on the roster at the moment.

Gamble’s familiarity with the position in the 4-3 scheme Georgia ran last year has helped ease the transition, however, and by the time fall camp opens in August, he figures to be on top of most of the major changes.

“In the 4-3 our Sam was pretty much on the line too,” Gamble said. “It’s pretty much the same thing, but we’re rushing more. So it’s just the fact of learning all the plays, and trying to learn more about defensive line than linebacker. That's the main difference.”


Woolly Butts said...

David, with regard to the Gamble move, the depth chart then includes the following returning scholarship players (with Faloughi now on scholarship)

Outside LB #1
C. Washington
Daryl Gamble
Reuben Faloughi

Outside LB #2
Justin Houston
Chase Vasser

Inside LBs
Akeem Dent
Marcus Dowtin
C. Robinson
Richard Samuel
Mike Gilliard
Akeem Hebron

Is the idea to cross-train Gamble for both jobs? To take a starting ILB and make him a backup OLB, or start him at OLB in front of Washington? I assume that Dowtin will now start with Dent at ILB? Are Robinson and Gilliard solid 2nd-team ILBs, with time available for Samuel (if he doesn't RS) and Hebron or incoming freshmen?

Just trying to sort out a move that I trust the coaches understand, even if I don't quite yet, not having seen spring practices or watched film, which for some reason the coaches haven't invited me to join them for.

Anonymous said...

Decision making doesn't seem to be the forte of Coach Lilly, deep into the Fall to know who will return punts? Pick 2-3 and let them focus on that for August camp. The others can return to their primary responsibilities. In early August make a decision. Some guys are good at fielding punts in all types of weather, others simply don't have the hand/eye coordination. I don't care if they have Damien's speed and moves or not, but the one with the best hands and decent speed would be my choice, and it wouldn't take to "deep into the Fall" to narrow the field and give one guy the job and one the back-up role.

hosayf said...


Any thoughts on this?

Prince Lightfoot said...

Another year of eligibilty for #23? That's not even funny. If four years wasn't enough to teach him where the 10 yard line is, why would a fifth be any different?