My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top storylines to emerge from spring

On the whole, spring practice didn’t move the needle much for the Georgia football team. There were no grand pronouncements about position battles, no starting controversies that were settled.

But a month of workouts and drills wasn’t totally uneventful. Here’s one man’s ranking of the most important stories in the aftermath:

1. Trinton Sturdivant’s injury

It’s never pleasant when the major event of a practice or game is an injury, and it was downright gut-wrenching when it happened a third time to Sturdivant. The senior left tackle now has to decide whether to continue his career, either by trying to get a sixth year or going pro. It remains unknown what he’ll do.

The immediate result to his team was a juggling of the line. Cordy Glenn became the left tackle by default, leaving center Ben Jones as the only player who will start at the position he had all of last year. Justin Anderson now seems the favorite to man right tackle, but that’s not settled yet.

The only good news for Georgia is that it won’t have to trot out a bunch of freshmen or first-year starters. Between the above three players, guard Kenarious Gates and possibly Chris Burnette (the favorite at right guard), there’s plenty of experience to go around.

2. Kwame Geathers’ emergence

Every spring, a player or two becomes The story only to end up a flash in the pan. But Geathers seems different. For one thing, he’s a Geathers; there’s sort of a history there.

The Georgia coaches also seem serious about getting Geathers on the field one way or another: either by subbing Geathers liberally in at nose tackle for John Jenkins, or playing Geathers at end in some alignments.

If Jenkins hadn’t signed, Geathers play’ this spring would have been even more pivotal. Now, it looks like the Bulldogs have gone from badly needing a big, physical nose tackle, to having two of them.

3. Alec Ogletree’s move to inside linebacker

This actually happened before practice started, but it qualifies for this list because Ogletree – who only played safety in high school – got his first experience at his new position in practice.

So what’s the early verdict? He seemed to play pretty well in the spring game, notching a couple nice tackles behind the line on run play. And defensive coordinator Todd Grantham concluded practice by saying it had convinced him that moving Ogletree there, and Jarvis Jones to outside linebacker, was “100 percent the right thing.”

Of course, it’s too early to say that for sure. Any conclusion on that will have to wait until the season – and not only to see how Ogletree fares, but the safeties.

4. Tailbacks: It’s still Crowell’s job to lose

Anyone was kidding themselves if they expected Mark Richt to suddenly have an awakening and say Washaun Ealey, Caleb King or anyone other than Crowell was likely to start. But you could have seen the coaches finishing the spring by singling out one or two incumbents to compete with the incoming freshman.

Instead, Richt and Mike Bobo both said that no one had separated themselves. That was easy to say with Ealey, who missed pretty much all of spring with a hamstring injury. But King had a strong spring from all reports, and Ken Malcome had a good finish on G-Day. Still, Richt said no one had won the job. Translation: Isaiah, we await thee.

5. Branden Smith’s increased role on offense

There was only one genuine surprise on G-Day, and that was how much Smith was involved in the offense. Statistically it was only four touches, but he did a lot with them, including a catch-and-run for the game’s first touchdown.

Afterwards, it was hard for Bobo to hide that he REALLY wants to use Smith on offense. Grantham said there was no fight to prevent that, but there was also no indication from Grantham or Richt that Smith would be more than an occasional weapon for the offense.

Smith also had a good spring at cornerback, so Grantham isn’t eager to give him up. It will bear watching this fall to see just how much Smith really gets to play on the other side of the ball.

6. Still issues at receiver

Marlon Brown didn’t quite grab the No. 2 job. The other incumbents, Rantavious Wooten and Israel Troupe, were quiet. And by the way, Tavarres King still has to prove himself as a No. 1 option. That could still end up being Orson Charles, the tight end.

Chris Conley, one of two true freshmen in camp, looks like he’ll be a factor, but didn’t quite make a huge leap. Redshirt freshman Michael Bennett had a solid, but apparently not spectacular, spring.

So expect Malcolm Mitchell to get a long look when he arrives this summer.

7. Christian LeMay’s development

The other early enrollee, LeMay got a chance to at least throw the ball around a bit. Remember, this is a kid who didn’t play high school ball last year. And his presence expanded the amount of scholarship quarterbacks to three, so Georgia is grateful for that.

But the spring did little to resolve how things will be handled this fall: Will LeMay redshirt, or will he be the backup so Hutson Mason can get his redshirt back? Stay tuned.

8. Sanders Commings’ possible move to safety

This has been rumored for awhile, and coaches pooh-poohed it right up until it happened late in practice. And only then it was still out of necessity, with injuries to Bacarri Rambo, Jakar Hamilton and Mark Deas. Then Commings got hurt too, and missed G-Day.

The indication is that Commings probably will end up at safety, but that’s by far a certainty.

9. New leadership in the locker room

The new leader of the defense is Christian Robinson at inside linebacker. As last year’s leader, Akeem Dent, watched for much of practice, awaiting his NFL draft fate, Robinson took on a larger leadership role. He knows the defense, and as he becomes a fourth-year junior also is taking on more responsibility in the huddle.

On the offensive side, quarterback Aaron Murray – a good friend of Robinson’s – took on a larger role. That’s what you’d expect from a returning starter at the most critical position. But Jones also emerged as a vocal presence, stepping into his role as a senior and the most experienced veteran on the offense.

10. Bigger, stronger and faster?

Whether or not the change in the strength and conditioning program pays off could end up being the story of the season. But less than four months in is too early to draw any conclusions, especially when the Bulldogs are only knocking each other around.

The safest way to put it right now is that players said the workouts were indeed tougher and were paying off, and Richt said he could tell a difference. But frankly you wouldn’t expect them to say anything else.

So, continuing the overall theme of this spring, stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Seth, why so down on Ealey? I hope Crowell is as great as you hope he is and don't turn out like those other thugs from Columbus. I also hope Ealey has a great year next year and becomes the number one tailback with Crowell sliding in here and there to gain experience. Ealey we await thee.

Johnny Mac said...

"Commings probably will end up at safety, but that’s by far a certainty."

Did you mean "that's far from a certainty?"

bigballz said...

i think everyone is way off on the RB situation

its Ealey's job if he competes for it and UGA will be a better team for it

bigeasydawg said...

Lemme get out my big ole paint brush so that any time a Carver player is mentioned, I can paint easier.

Robert said...

I agree with bigballz, just because Richt said that no one seperated themselves does not mean it's IC's to lose. The competition is wide open. This way, none of the backs gets complacent. The seperation may not come until mid-season (hopefully).

Anonymous said...

With the RB situation, I hope there is a clear seperation before the first game. I want to see one of these guys step-up, take the job, and keep it with 20 carries a game. The best our running game has looked in Richt's time was 2002 when Musa was getting a ton of carries and 2007 when Knowshon was getting a ton of carries. I really want one guy (probably Crowell) to take the job and grind out those 20 carries a game.

LawDawg said...

I agree with some of the above, I think the fact that they are not naming a primary RB right now is to keep the competition up. Additionally, I grew weary of watching the Ealey/King tandem last year and hope that a true #1 back emerges--whoever it is, either before Boise or early in the season. Perhaps some consistency is (one) of the missing ingredients to our run game... We shall see. GO DAWGS!

SDawg said...


Can you ask the coaching staff about whether either B. Smith or Crowell will change numbers from #1? I heard on the g-day broadcast from CMR that they'll both wear it but won't be able to get in the game at the same time. That seems fantastically stupid to me, as it would limit two playmakers from complimenting each other on the field. Would love to hear more on this.

Doug said...

Just my guess...

The coaching staff has grown tired of Ealey and King screwing up and not working hard enough in the class room and weight room.

They will play the best two RBs, but they are pulling for Malcome and Crowell.

I don't blame them.

Ginny said...

SDawg- I was wondering the same thing. If they're two of our best offensive playmakers, there's no reason why they shouldn't be on the field at the same time. Unfortunately, I think there might be some ego issues. I'm pretty sure that wearing that number was one of Crowell's requests, and of course Coach Richt obliged. Hopefully one of them will take one for the team, literally.

Anonymous said...

In other words we are what we are an underachieving 6 - 7 football program with the occasional hiccups against teams like Vandy and SC. Not much has changed except for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

BulldogBen said...

Until I see the actual results on the field, it's all speculation and positive spin. The program has lost the benefit of the doubt.

Gonna be a long summer.....

bizzaroneck said...

From what I saw I didn't think any of our players really looked any bigger or more defined other than richard samuel. S & C is still a really big worry for me. I'm also terrified of our running game. I think Ealey could be a really good back with 20+ carries a game, but let's face it. He is a fumbler. Malcome looked servicable and King baffles me. Carlton Thomas is a special teams player at best. D looked pretty good, but does that just mean that our o-line is terrible again? And I don't care what you say about Christian Robinson being a leader; that guy has no talent. He was consistently outplayed by Dowtin last year. Brandon Smith is too small to be a corner in our scheme. Move him to offense full time. We are going to need playmakers.

Bulldawg said...

Good points Bizz.

PTC DAWG said...

Gonna be a great summer for me.

18-22 year olds sure can't spoil it.

Anonymous said...

If Brandon Smith is too small we are screwed - we only have two CB's that are taller and one of them has been moved to safety. BS is a stud on either side of the ball - too small - give me a break.

Is Brent Grimes to small?

Anonymous said...

S&C still seems to be the key story, since that may be the only explanation we can find for the poor OL play with veterans the last two years.

This year our OL lacks some of the experience, but we have quite a few highly recruited players that have many years with the program. Will we be able to get a push of the line next year?

Probably tough to say as Friend puts the pieces together. Also, will the players hold to their diets and workouts over the summer? Will the coaches hold the players accountable? Will Richt hold his coaches accountable? We will see.

bizzaroneck said...

C'mon anon. I remember Van Gorder D. They don't play a lot of bump and run. Yeah he was recruited to play basically a tampa 2 zone and I really believe he would be great in that, but do you think that kid can bump Alshon Jeffrey's. Plus the kid is dynamite on offense. The best thing for the team is to play that kid like a Percy Harvin type.

bizzaroneck said...

Also sorry I used that kid so many times.

Anonymous said...

The average height of CB's in college and the NFL is about 5' 11"

The trend is going taller but they are really few and far between.

The "Tampa 2" has more to do with LB's (specifically the MLB) than CB's

meansonny said...

Caleb is a better back than Ealey. Ealey might be better at the toss sweep, but he's not good enough to make a career out of that alone.

Caleb averaged better than 4.7 yards per game 6 times last season (failed to do so with 4.46 against Tennessee and 2.56 against Arkansas).

Ealey averaged better than 4.7 yards per game 6 times (one of those was on one carry against Colorado). He failed to do so against South Carolina 3.95, against Miss St 3.6, against Tennessee 2.75, against Florida 3.36, against UCF 3.75.

Even though the coaches haven't said anything, I think it's between Caleb and Crowell this fall.

Anonymous said...

Caleb scored 2td's in 2010.

Ealey had 11 td's.

Anonymous said...

It likely is Crowell's job to lose. If Crowell can come in and Caleb can teach him to passblock, if Crowell can leanr the playbook, and stay out of trouble, and not fumble, we all know he can run. Crowell will get a chance, he's dominated tough competition. Can't wait to see a guy with his speed, and pass catching skills. Going to be some nice wheel routes for Georgia.

meansonny said...

@ anon 7:32

Washaun scored 11 TDs last season. 5 against Kentucky, 2 against GT.

I think the argument can be said that we didn't do a good job rushing the ball in goalline last season (excluding Kentucky, GT, Idaho St, and La-Lafayette). The result was almost a record breaking season for the RsFr QB throwing TDs. That is not by design from spring 2010 as opposed to a necessity from our tailback situation last season.

I still stand by my statement that Ealey is better at the toss sweep and King is a better RB. Neither were good in the redzone offense last season.

Atticus said...

Why can't you wait a year with Mason? Redshirt Lemay this year and Mason next if they have to, but no way you go into the season with Lemay as the backup not having played in two years.

David P said...

How in h@ll can anyone say that the tailback position belongs to someone that is not even on the team yet? The dude might not even be able to transition into learning the vocabulary of the play calls, let alone the blocking schemes.

Please stop saying that the job is Crowell's to lose, it degrades the credibility of this awesome blog. Caleb was "the one" several years ago, and the truth is that we don't know how IC will do when he gets here.

The reality of the crappy RB play is that the OLine has been crappy. When the RB gets good blocking, both WE and CK are as good as was advertised, see GT game from 2 years ago, where a hole and a four yard space nets ten YPC for either of them.

In the spring game, CK looked faster and more determined (except when Kwame came through unblocked and CK folded, but who wouldn't) and Malcome looked very much the sleeper, kind of what Richard Samuel was supposed to be, a big and fast back that really finished runs with power.

It is ok to drink the Koolaid,just stop spiking it with Vokda AND Rum.

Anonymous said...

Right on David P. Crowell shouldn't be promised nothing. He has not played a down in the SEC and sure did not look impressive in the under armour game. He whiffed on blocks the entire time he played. In the G-Day game our O-line still looked crappy, until we get some good blocking all the tailbacks will have a hard time producing.

Anonymous said...

Crowell looked very good in HS - how that translates to the SEC is still in doubt.

I suspect CMR and the offensive staff are using his arrival ans potential to motivate the RB's currently on the roster.