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Showing posts with label Practice Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Practice Notes. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Practice Notes: Offense Remains a Mystery for Georgia

The film room is usually the starting point in preparation for an unknown opponent, but this year, there might not be too much studying Oklahoma State's coaches can do to prepare for Georgia's offense.

With four new starters at the skill positions and a bevy of fresh-faced reserves ready for their first work as college players, there will be a much different look on offense than the Bulldogs had a year ago. The problem is, even Georgia isn't quite sure what to expect.

"It's going to be different, no doubt, and I'm not sure what it's going to look like," head coach Mark Richt said. "I've got an idea on a couple guys, but there's a lot we just don't know."

Only fullback Shaun Chapas and wide receiver A.J. Green return as skill-position starters from a unit that was one of the most feared in the SEC a year ago. The rest of the unit, however, will be getting used to new surroundings.

Quarterback Joe Cox, tight end Aron White, wide receiver Michael Moore and tailback Richard Samuel are all expected to get starting nods Saturday, but the group combines for just eight starts in their careers prior to this season.

Even the offensive line, while stocked with veterans, hasn't played together with the current lineup before, meaning it might take a while for Georgia's coaches and players to get a feel for what they have to work with.

That doesn't mean the Bulldogs aren't expecting to produce some offensive fireworks, however.

"I feel really good about everything that we have in right now and everything that we're doing," Cox said. "I think we've got a good plan set and we have the guys to execute it. So I'm not worried."

PROBLEMS FOR THE POKES

Tuesday provided some bad news for Oklahoma State.

First, starting tight end Jamal Mosley left the team for personal reasons. Head coach Mike Gundy refused to comment further about Mosley's departure, but The Oklahoman speculated that recent legal problems for the sophomore could have played a role. Mosley was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in June but was currently in good standing with the program.

That news was fallowed Tuesday by a report by Oklahoma State's Scout Web site that said starting linebacker Orie Lemon tore his ACL during Monday's practice and would miss the season.

Lemon started all 13 games for the Cowboys last season at middle linebacker.

DEPTH FOR A CHANGE

After spending the 2008 season putting together a patchwork offensive line, Georgia opens the 2009 season with a surprising level of depth.

Trinton Sturdivant, Chris Davis, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn and Clint Boling are expected to be the starting five for Georgia on Saturday, which means former starters Vince Vance and Justin Anderson will be watching from the sidelines.

With temperatures expected to be in the high 80s in Stillwater, however, Richt said he expects that there will be some backups rotating in during the game.

“I'm pretty confident that we'll play more than five linemen,” Richt said. “I think Vince will play. I think Justin Anderson will play.”

Josh Davis, who started three games for the Bulldogs last season, won't be available Saturday while he continues his rehab following multiple shoulder surgeries this offseason. Davis is getting closer to making a return, however, and Richt said the junior could be in position for playing time in the near future.

“He's not going to play this week, but hopefully in a week or two, Josh will be in a position where he can be in the mix, which would be good for us,” Richt said.

DEPTH CHART DRAMA

Outside of Richard Samuel's climb to the top of the tailback rotation, Georgia's first official depth chart of the season offered few changes from how it was expected to look before preseason practices began.

The lone surprise might be at linebacker, where Darryl Gamble has moved to the top of the depth chart at middle linebacker and senior Darius Dewberry is listed as the top Sam linebacker.

That leaves Akeem Dent, who started 10 games in 2008, the odd man out, but linebackers coach John Jancek said not to read too much into Dent's status as a reserve. A nagging hamstring injury cost Dent nearly two weeks of practice, and that was just enough to keep him from solidifying a starting post.

“He missed a bunch of practice and Darryl has obviously done a great job,” Jancek said. “Dewberry's been back a couple weeks now and shown he's ready to play. But it's not anything where (Dent) is not going to play. He's got a role in there and will probably get just as many reps as Darryl. It's a great situation to have when you have a bunch of guys with experience.”

Jancek said he expects Dewberry, Dent, Gamble, Rennie Curran, Nick Williams and Marcus Dowtin all to see action against Oklahoma State.

EXPECTING ACTION

Defensive tackle Abry Jones and defensive end Montez Robinson may not be among the freshmen who see action in Georgia's opener, but the two have impressed enough this preseason to give Richt a good indication they'll be on the field at some point this season.

“Before this season's over, (they'll play),” Richt said. “I'm not going to say they will or won't in this first game, but we're targeting them to play this season.”

BRINGING ANOTHER BACK

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said Caleb King told him his hamstring felt better Tuesday, but the sophomore tailback still wasn't not back and practice. Sources told the Telegraph Monday that King would not make the trip to Stillwater, but McClendon said that would not be official until the team's travel roster is released Wednesday.

Assuming King won't be able to play this week, McClendon said redshirt freshman Dontavius Jackson would be the likely fourth tailback on the depth chart behind Samuel, Carlton Thomas and Kalvin Daniels. While McClendon said freshman Washaun Ealey has turned in some strong practices this week, traveling Jackson is a more practical alternative.

“You definitely want to bring an extra guy,” McClendon said. “Dontavius is pretty much already going because we use him on some special teams.”

THIN AT RECEIVER

In last year's opener, Georgia had nine different players catch a pass against Georgia Southern, with none collecting more than three.

That distribution isn't likely to be quite so wide this year, with a thin corps of receivers that includes just six scholarship players, including two freshmen.

“We're not going to expect them to play a major role right now, but they've certainly got to be ready to play,” receivers coach Tony Ball said of his freshmen, Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten. “And with what we're asking them to do, I think they can go out there and perform.”

That's the expectation Cox has for them, too, but he's not planning to have the outcome of the game hinge on their success. With veterans Michael Moore and A.J. Green, Cox said he expects a few more passes to sail in the direction of Georgia's best receivers.

“You don't want to just have the other team knowing they're going to throw it to one guy,” Cox said. “So we want to spread it around, but we know who our playmakers are, and we've got to be creative in finding ways to get those guys the ball more.”

Of course, finding a breakout receiver among the freshman class wouldn't be anything new for Georgia. Last year, Green burst onto the scene in the Bulldogs' opener, catching a 36-yard reception on just his third play from scrimmage to set up a touchdown.

After watching Brown, Wooten and tight ends Arthur Lynch and Orson Charles this preseason, Green said he wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat performance from one of this year's new faces.

“I know they'll be able to handle it,” Green said. “They're confidence is pretty high right now. They listen, they work hard. They're ready.”

WALK-ON READY TO GO

If the depth at wideout becomes a problem, Ball said only one of Georgia's walk-ons is ready to step into a game situation at this point – junior Marquise Brown.

Brown, who appeared in two games last season, was an offensive star during the spring, catching three passes for 62 yards in the annual G-Day game, making him a prime option should Ball need to dig deep into his depth chart on game day.

“He's gotten a lot of work with the first and second group,” Ball said. “If I had to tag a walk-on that could help us, it would be him.”

SPEEDY SAMUEL

His style may be bruising, but there's more to Georgia tailback Richard Samuel, according to his offensive coordinator.

While Samuel's size – he's 6-2, 224 pounds – and his running style put him in a category with some fullbacks, it's his speed that sets him apart.

“Richard can run,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He's very fast. If he gets out in the open field – there's a lot of people in this league that can run, but compared to guys we've had in the past, I'd say he's the fastest since I've been here.”

That includes Bobo's time as a player, and that's probably as far back as he has to go to find anything resembling an apt comparison.

“He's similar to Robert Edwards,” Bobo said, “and Richard might be a little bit faster.”

DOUBLE DUTY

Samuel's speed might make him a weapon on special teams, too, after he ended last season as Georgia's top kick returner.

As the opener approaches, Ball said he's still looking at four or five potential return men on kickoffs, and Samuel's other duties as starting tailback won't be a factor in who ends up getting the call on game day.

“I wouldn't hesitate to put him back there because he's got experience,” Ball said of Samuel. “I'll make my decision (based on) how he handles the ball, how he communicates. It isn't rocket science, but I've got to feel comfortable with that person.”

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Practice Notes: Ealey, Lott Out With Injuries

The injuries haven’t been serious, but the dings and scrapes are starting to mount for Georgia after a week of practice.

Freshmen Washaun Ealey and Derrick Lott are the latest Bulldogs to come up lame after both hyperextended their elbows on separate plays during Friday’s practice. Neither injury is considered serious, head coach Mark Richt said, but both players will be kept out of contract drills Monday.

“There’s no damage as far as broken bones or anything like that,” Richt said of Ealey’s injury. “It won’t need any kind of surgery. It just swelled up a little bit, and when the swelling goes down and he thinks he can get going again, he’ll go, but I can’t say how long.”

While Lott is considered a longshot to earn playing time behind a trio of senior defensive tackles this season, but Ealey is part of a five-man race to earn carries at tailback.

Richt said the injury could be a setback for Ealey, but assuming the freshman continues learning at the same pace, the missed action won’t necessarily prevent him from remaining in the mix for carries.

“He’ll have plenty of time if he can keep learning without the reps,” Richt said. “He’ll be able to do ball-handling drills and probably pass skeleton drills soon, he just won’t be able to go full contact.”

READY TO RUMBLE

Georgia wrapped up its first week of fall practice Saturday under a glaring sun that had players a bit antsy to get in a few licks before two-a-days begin Monday.

“Practice was hot and nasty, and everybody was in a bad mood, which was OK,” Richt said. “The emotions were flying pretty good, and they’re ready for Monday. They’re ready to put the pads on and start playing football.”

Perhaps no player is more eager to get a few hits in than senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who missed nearly all of the 2008 season following a torn ACL he suffered early in Georgia’s opening game against Georgia Southern.

Owens said his knee has felt fine throughout the team’s first five practices, but donning full pads and laying out a few hits on Monday morning will be a true test – and a big reward.

“I love when guys come out and want to hit,” Owens said. “That makes me want to get out there and hit somebody – especially for me because I haven’t tackled anyone to the ground in a year. When I get back out there, I’m going to feel like I’m a kid again, like it’s Christmas. I just want to hit somebody.”

CONGRATS, CASEY

Walk-on offensive lineman Casey Nickels has already racked up a few superlatives during the past few months. The junior from Tignall was named the most improved offensive lineman and outstanding walk-on at the end of spring practice and opened the fall second on the depth chart at right guard.

Saturday, Nickels received another honor, too, earning a scholarship after three years as a walk-on.

“It’s a lot of fun to award scholarships to those guys who work so hard,” Richt said. “This is Casey’s fourth year, he’s working with our No. 2 unit now, and he’s working his tail off.”

The scholarship came as a surprise and a welcome reward for Nickels, who said it put the past three years of effort into perspective.

“To be a walk-on you’ve got to love the sport,” Nickels said. “Because you get pounded on for three or four years, especially on the line, you know? Hitting 325-pound defensive tackles everyday, it takes a toll on you.”

LOTS OF LOVE FOR LOGAN

Richt insists the No. 2 spot on the depth chart at quarterback is still an open competition, but sophomore Logan Gray is doing his part to ensure Georgia’s two freshmen spend 2009 as redshirts.

After drawing praise during the spring, Richt said Gray’s growth has continued this fall in terms of his knowledge and confidence.

“I think he’s done a nice job of preparing himself,” Richt said. “You can just see there’s a lot more confidence in his ability to run the system than even in the spring probably. I think he had a great spring and took the momentum into the summer and has done a very nice job.”

While a starting job may not be up for grabs, Richt said the back-up quarterback will see significant playing time this year, and that’s all the motivation Gray needs.

“That’s what I’ve been thinking about this whole summer,” Gray said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to get on the field.”

OFF AND RUNNING

Asked how he would sum up the first week of fall practice, Richt had some words of encouragement.

“I would say it was a great start – a lot of energy, a lot of guys trying to do it the Georgia way," he said. "It’s been highly organized practices, and I’ve been pleased with the focus.”

The defense continued to be ahead of the offense, with Sanders Commings hauling in a pick-six as Saturday's star, but Richt said he saw progress all around, including from the freshmen, who he said are making both plenty of big plays and plenty of mistakes.

Georgia moves on to its first day of two-a-days Monday, with the morning practice set to be in full uniforms for the first time this fall. Richt said the staff had not yet determined which drills would be contact.

IT'S ALL ACADEMIC

Georgia had 79 players earn a 3.0 GPA or better during the summer semester, including 22 Bulldogs who landed on the Dean's list. The combined team GPA for the summer was a 3.148 -- a mark Richt hailed as a major stepping stone.

"That was a goal we talked about in the spring to get it over 3.0," Richt said. "We'd been banging away at 3.0, but we hadn't quite gotten there, so that is outstanding."

TWON'T TWEET

If you're a regular follower of Jeff Owens on Twitter, you may have noticed things have been a bit quiet the past two days. Following a day of downtime due to a hacking of the social networking site, Owens said he hasn't been able to access his account.

But fear not, Owens said. He's passing along today's tweet through the media.

"If I could tweet, I'd say practice was challenging," Owens said. "We competed and a lot of guys got after it. I think we got better today.”

As a side note, I told Owens that was way beyond the character limit. Shows what I know... it was 98 characters.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Practice Notes: Houston's Spirits Still High

Justin Houston won't be on the field for the first two games of Georgia's season, but that hasn't hindered his preparation.

The sophomore defensive end had a breakthrough spring and was expected to be the anchor of Georgia's pass rush, but a two-game suspension for violating team rules threatened to put the breaks on his growth. Instead of sulking, however, head coach Mark Richt said Houston has handled his punishment with maturity and gone right back to work.

"He's got a wonderful attitude," Richt said. "From the minute he had his issue, he was very remorseful. He took his discipline like a man and he's been working extremely hard. He understands he's got to pay a price, but he's anxious to get back into games."

Despite the suspension and a minor hamstring injury, Houston tackled his offseason with as much vigor as he did during a masterful spring in which he was one of just two healthy defensive ends.

Despite the suspension, Houston never missed a voluntary workout, and the results were obvious. When Georgia's players hit maxed out in the weight room at the end of their offseason conditioning, Houston set the team record for power cleans, lifting 420 pounds.

"He's been really good about it," defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. "He's been coming to all the workouts, showing up on time and being a great leader to those other guys. Even though he's had this setback, he doesn't show it."

HAPPY IN THE MIDDLE

During his preseason news conference, Richt joked that he'd be far happier if Georgia was ranked No. 2 than No. 1 in the first polls of the season. Starting at the top didn't suit his team well a year ago.

As it turns out, he won't have much to worry about this preseason. The Bulldogs were ranked 13th in the first USA Today/Coaches' Poll, released Friday. The news didn't come as much of a surprise to Richt.

"I figured we'd be somewhere in there," he said.

The No. 13 ranking is the same place Georgia started in 2007 when the Bulldogs wound up winning the Sugar Bowl and finishing the season at No. 2 in the poll. With a difficult schedule that includes 11 BCS-conference opponents, Richt said the opportunity for a similar performance is there this season.

"Our schedule is set for if we have success, we'll move up, no doubt," he said.

A WHIRLWIND START

The NCAA mandates players have five days in shorts and shoulder pads before they can participate in contact drills during the preseason, and freshman lineman Kwame Geathers was already behind schedule after failing to earn NCAA clearance to report to camp until Thursday.

His first day in Athens was a whirlwind, Richt said, as the team rushed him through a physical and some quick orientation to make sure that the five-day clock started immediately.

Geathers' first practice Friday included little beyond running and conditioning, something Richt said the freshman needs to do a lot of during the coming days.

"It's very evident when you see a guy come in that late compared to a guy who has been here all summer, working with our strength staff all summer, working in the heat of the day, having veterans be able to teach him the ropes on and off the field," Richt said. "He's behind because he wasn't here, and we understand that. We'll be pushing him, but we can only go so quick."

GETTING HIS FEET WET

Senior linebacker Marcus Washington spent the majority of Friday's practice working with the defensive ends. Washington, who missed all of the 2008 season, spent some time as a stand-up rusher during spring practice, and Richt said the senior will continue to work at the new position regularly.

"He was working at defensive end in pass rush, in inside drills and a little bit in 11-on-11," Richt said. "He's starting to learn how to line up. We're seeing what kind of a knack Marcus has."

Richt said the plan is to use Washington at linebacker during traditional defensive sets and move him up to the line of scrimmage when the defense shifts to a nickel package.

A STYLIST'S NIGHTMARE

It's tradition for Georgia freshmen to get their heads shaved by their veteran teammates each preseason, but linebacker Chase Vasser is hoping to avoid the embarrassment. Already sporting some flowing locks, Vasser earned the name "Cush" due to his resemblance to former USC linebacker Brian Cushing.

Hoping to avoid the haircut, Vasser said he struck up a deal with senior Darius Dewberry in which, rather than going completely bald, the freshman can't cut his hair for a full year.

"I said I'll grow it out long for a year, so as of right now, I'll be growing it out long," Vasser said. "I've never had it shaved before, and I don't know if I might have a giant mole under there or something."

A NEW 105

Until classes begin, Georgia can only have 105 players in camp, which limits the number of walk-ons and injured players who can participate in practice. For the first few days, offensive lineman Josh Davis, who is recovering from two offseason shoulder surgeries, didn't make the cut, but a hamstring injury to redshirt freshman Johnathan Owens caused Richt to make a switch.

"We're doing it mainly because of (Davis') ability to teach the young players what to do," Richt said. "If we're going to have two guys injured, you might as well have a veteran in there."

Owens is only expected to miss about seven to 10 days, but his return will coincide with the start of classes and reduced roster restrictions.

Davis is expected to miss the majority of the preseason and will not be ready for game action in time for Georgia's opener against Oklahoma State on Sept. 5.

A QUICK RETURN?

Safety Reshad Jones sat out a second straight practice with a hamstring injury, but he hopes to make a prompt return to action.

Jones hurt the hamstring originally over the summer during a conditioning drill and said he re-injured it during one-on-one drills Thursday. While he understands the risk of trying to come back too quickly, Jones said he's doing everything he can to minimize his time off the field.

"I want to take it day by day, but I'm working hard in the training room doing everything possible to get back," Jones said.

Richt said the current timetable for Jones' return is a week to 10 days.

ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE

After four days of practice -- two in pads, two in shells -- Richt said it's hard to get too much of a gauge for the season so far. But while he sees plenty of mistakes from the youngsters, he likes the hustle the players have shown on the field.

"It's obvious there's a lot of guys who don't know what to do exactly the way coach wants it done every time, but the attitude, effort, coachability, enthusiasm, very good, and that's crucial," Richt said. "So to this point, I'm pretty pleased."

DAY FOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Once again, it was the defense that highlighted the day's practice session by creating a couple of key turnovers.

Richt said excellent coverage on a passing play by Darius Dewberry led to a nifty interception by Prince Miller, which Miller returned for a score. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins also drew praise for picking off a pass and returning it for a touchdown on a play Richt called, "a thing of beauty."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Practice Notes: Geathers Makes the Grade

It took a little longer than expected, but Georgia's 2009 freshman class is finally complete.
Head coach Mark Richt confirmed Thursday that lineman Kwame Geathers was cleared by the NCAA and will be on campus when Georgia holds its fourth day of fall practice today.

Richt said he was informed Tuesday morning of the decision, but Geathers still won't be a full participant in the Bulldogs' practice sessions for a few more days. The NCAA mandates that players are given five days of acclimation time before participating in contact drills, which means Geathers will be in shorts today when his teammates are in shoulder pads, and he'll still be in shoulder pads when the team holds its first full-contact practice Monday.

Geathers brother, Robert, played at Georgia and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, and his uncle, James, played 13 years in the NFL as well, so Richt said he's confident Kwame Geathers will be in good shape upon arrival.

"He comes from a family that has a lot of football players," Richt said. "They know how to work."

DOWN AND OUT

Safety Reshad Jones injured his hamstring Wednesday and was held out of Thursday's practice. Although the injury is not serious, Richt said Jones will miss some time.

"It's too bad because he was really practicing well and leading," Richt said. "He'll be healthy enough by the time the season starts and he has enough quality reps and playing time that I don't think it will be a huge deal, but he quite frankly had a lot of positive momentum coming into this camp."

Quintin Banks took reps with the first team in place of Jones on Thursday, with Baccari Rambo and Sanders Commings working with the second team.

SHOWING IMPROVEMENT

With Justin Houston suspended for two games and nearly every one of Georgia's other defensive ends coming off an injury, the start of fall practice figured to be rough at the position. Instead, Richt said the defensive ends have been among the most impressive groups in camp.

"(Demarcus) Dobbs is in great shape, (Rod) Battle's in great shape, Cornelius Washington, we're getting a chance to see him do some things," Richt said. "I see a lot of good."

BACK AND FORTH

Sophomore Nick Williams arrived as a safety, moved to linebacker midway through the season last year, then was switched back to safety this offseason when John Knox transferred. The changes didn't end there, however, and Williams is back to weakside linebacker yet again.

The change during the offseason was made to strengthen the numbers among the safeties, but now that Georgia's freshmen have arrived on campus, Richt said the coaches made the decision to move Williams where they thought he would have the biggest impact.

"You want as much speed on the field as you possibly can," Richt said. "We feel like he's one of the guys that's going to make an impact for us, and right now we're trying to find where he's best going to be able to do that. I don't want to give away too much of the game plan, but we think he can help us there."

MOVIN' ON UP

Richt wasn't sure how much Chris Davis would be able to practice before the team took the field for its first practice Tuesday afternoon, but by the end of the day, the junior offensive lineman was back with the first team.

Davis started all 13 games last year, but underwent hip surgery during the offseason and was slow to recover. After three days of practice, however, Richt said Davis is doing much better.

"I don't think it feels great, but he played with it last year, and he says its better than it was a year ago," Richt said. "He's fighting through it, and it doesn't seem to be slowing him down."

Davis joins Trinton Sturdivant, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn and Clint Boling with the first-team offensive line, bumping senior Vince Vance to the second team. Vance is coming off ACL surgery, and while his knee is close to 100 percent, Richt said he still has a ways to go in terms of conditioning and mentally preparing for the grueling pace line coach Stacy Searels insists upon.

"Coach Searels has a way of getting guys to practice a certain way, and it takes a while to get there," Richt said. "I think he was at that point before he got hurt, but he was away from it a while, and now he's got to get back into that mode."

ODDS AND ENDS

-- Darryl Gamble recovered a fumble Thursday, marking the third straight practice in which he has come up with a turnover. "He's just making plays," Richt said.

-- The buzzword all offseason has been leadership, and while that has come naturally to a lot of Georgia's veterans, Richt has been particularly pleased with one senior who has had to work a bit harder at become a vocal leader. "Prince Miller has probably done one of the best jobs of getting out of his comfort zone and becoming more of a vocal leader."

-- Richt on who has impressed so far:

"It's so great to have Geno (Atkins), Jeffrey (Owens) and Kade (Weston) inside. Those three seniors know the ropes and they're doing a great job."

"A.J. Green, he just makes plays every day. A.J. is practicing very well."

"I do like how our running backs seem to be very focused and are competing very hard. I think they truly believe it is a wide-open competition, which it is."

-- Freshman tight end Arthur Lynch has been working as the long snapper on special teams for the past three days. Richt said Lynch is likely the third man on the depth chart at the position. Ty Frix is considered the front-runner for the job.

-- Logan Gray got another vote of confidence from his head coach, but Richt isn't setting anything regarding the No. 2 QB job in stone just yet. "I like how Logan's practicing. Today, in my opinion, he's still a very solid No. 2, but we'll continue to rep everybody and see."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Practice Notes: QBs Struggle Early

If Mark Richt has an early complaint after two days of practice, it's about his quarterbacks. A handful of fumbles and a fair number of interceptions – including two picks and two fumble recoveries by Darryl Gamble – have been the result of some sloppy play early on by his group of passers.

"Most of the picks happened because of the quarterback just throwing the ball where he shouldn't have thrown it, making a bad decision," Richt said. "They've got to take better care of the ball."

It's all about fundamentals said sophomore Logan Gray, who currently is second on Georgia's depth chart at quarterback.

"Just getting back to the little things that are kind of sloppy the first couple of days," Gray said. "We've got to make sure we're touching up on those every single day – not fumbling the snap, fumbling giving the ball to the running back, missing a read and throwing into traffic – whatever it might be, every quarterback needs to be careful with the decisions they're making with the ball."

For now, however, Georgia's secondary is enjoying the early gifts, and they're making sure the quarterbacks know how much they appreciate it.

"We've got to talk a little smack to them," safety Nick Williams said. "That's what makes it fun."

SO FAR, SO GOOD

The first two days of fall practice have been the first full workouts of any kind in quite a while for a hefty contingent of players returning from injuries. While the Bulldogs haven't reached a particularly grueling part of their routine just yet, the early results for players like Jeff Owens, Trinton Sturdivant and Vince Vance have all been positive.

"You see no ill effects," Richt said. "You don't see them favoring anything. Again, until we have that first day of contact, you won't really know how that guy is feeling on the inside. I'm sure they're a little anxious about that first hit, but they no their best shot is to play full speed, and they're doing that now."

Richt said tailback Richard Samuel's wrist has not limited him at all thus far and said that he didn't expect any players to be held out of contact drills when the Bulldogs begin two-a-days Monday.

A HARD-LINE APPROACH

Georgia was one of the most penalized teams in the country a year ago, and Richt said he's taking steps this fall to ensure there isn't a repeat performance in 2009.

During practice, he's pulling players out of drills after they commit a penalty, and numerous players are being singled out when they're flagged. Assistants are tracking each penalty during practice, as well, and for the first time, Richt is personally monitoring the results.

"You've got to drill it, discipline it and the guys have to be serious about never wanting it to happen again," Richt said. "But so far, I see a good healthy attitude toward it."

The hard-line tactics even apply to Georgia's assistant coaches, Richt said.

In the past, assistants could argue a flag with the team's practice refs, but this year, they're not even allowed to joke about it.

"It's, 'Yes, sir, thank you for your help,' and go discipline your player," Richt said. "We can't let anything at this point get in the way of taking a very serious attitude toward every flag that's called."

A MINOR PROBLEM

Linebacker Christian Robinson played with his hand wrapped after a minor thumb sprain, Richt said. The injury may require a cast, but surgery would not be needed and Richt expects Robinson to continue practicing.