ATHENS – Nearly two weeks of camp haven’t done much to clarify the picture at tailback for the Georgia football team: There is no clear starter, and the top four guys are all set to play.
That means either senior Richard Samuel or sophomore Ken Malcome is the more likely starter against Buffalo on Sept. 1. But both freshmen, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, will get their carries.
“There’s not a lot of separation. I think they’re all really good backs,” head coach Mark Richt said after Monday’s practice. “They’re all gonna get their opportunity to play throughout the year. Who’s gonna be the starter, I don’t know. We’ll be anxious to see all of them, really. I will be.”
Malcome, who finished last season as the starter, has improved his pass protection and other aspects of his game.
“Ken’s doing very well,” Richt said. “Coach McClendon made a comment just today about how diligent Ken has been to really understand he knows everything about his job. He’s obviously known enough to function in the system.”
Freshman John Theus is all but the certain starter right tackle. Richt said they’ve used the lineup with Theus at right tackle “for the majority of our practices, and I think it’s been good.”
“We aren’t flipping guys a bunch. Guys are staying put, and I think it’s helping us,” Richt said.
Theus and sophomore Watts Dantzler began camp in a competition for the right tackle spot. Theus may have won the job, but Dantzler still has a chance to play if something happened to left tackle Kenarious Gates.
“We have a little more depth on the right side than on the left side right now,” Richt said. “We want Austin Long to become a guy we can be comfortable with at left tackle, but he’s not there right now.”
Bobo back to booth
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo plans to call plays from the press box for a second straight year.
Bobo, who has been the main play-caller since 2006, decided before last season that he would move upstairs after spending several years on the sideline. Richt said Monday that Bobo was set to continue that.
Richt called plays the first few years after being named Georgia’s head coach. He was the offensive coordinator at Florida State, where he called plays from upstairs and downstairs.
“For me personally, when I could see the big picture upstairs it made all the difference in the world for me,” Richt said. “I learned I was more of a visual learner than anything else. When I was calling plays from the side it was just a different vantage point and I couldn’t see the big picture. I didn’t have as good a feel as to what was happening. … Other people sometimes like to get on the field and look in their QB’s eyes and see what he’s thinking and see if he’s responding properly.”
Freshman Ty Flournoy-Smith (hamstring strain) was limited in practice, but was still in pads. Richt said that Smith, third on the depth chart behind Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome, is likely not to redshirt.
“He’s a guy that we feel we’ve gotta get ready,” Richt said. “If we have just one injury at tight end he’s gotta be in there. And whether we have an injury or not we’ve still played three tight ends over the course of a season so I think he’ll play.”
Defensive end Ray Drew (concussion) returned to practice, although he was still in a non-contact jersey. Cornerbacks Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder contusion), Branden Smith (shoulder contusion) and Damian Swann (neck strain) all continued to practice in non-contact jerseys.