Georgia opened preseason practice on Thursday. Here is a mish-mash of videos, notes and impressions as the Bulldogs begin the first of 19 practices.
Aaron Murray interview
Here are some notes from the first half of practice, which was open to the media:
- The offensive coaches were much louder today, particularly Mike Bobo and Tony Ball. (I'll have more of this for a story tonight.)
- Speaking of intensity ... Tray Matthews. During what was supposed to be a non-contract drill between the first-teams, Matthews still knocked down Arthur Lynch, who had made a long catch-and-run.
- Michael Bennett and his surgically-repaired knee looked good. At one point he made a catch of about 20 yards while falling to the ground.
- Freshman receiver Tramel Terry was also in a regular jersey. Head coach Mark Richt has said Terry would be limited when practice opens, so Richt could shed light Friday on how healthy Terry looks now.
- The first-team offensive line looked very familiar: LT Kenarious Gates, LG Dallas Lee, C David Andrews, RG Chris Burnette, RT John Theus. Yes, the same lineup that started and finished last year, and was in use most of last year. That doesn't mean there won't be competition: They did shuffle in different lineups, with Mark Beard at left tackle, Kolton Houston at left guard and Xzavier Ward at right tackle. (Hunter Long was the backup center, and Greg Pyke the backup right guard.)
- There wasn't much to glean about the kicking situation. Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber were off to one side together, while the walk-on kickers (Adam Erickson, Patrick Beless and Thomas Pritchard) were off to another side. At least that was the case during the first half of practice when I was watching.
- Nothing new as far as the first-team defense goes. It was the same as finished last spring. Josh Harvey-Clemons was working at his spot despite the looming one-game suspension. They've done that the past couple years with suspended players, so you suspect they won't take him out of first-team drills until they really begin preparing for Clemson.
- There were a couple new faces on the second-team defense: Freshmen Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins were at cornerback. Junior college transfer Shaquille Fluker got some reps, though he was in a green non-contact jersey, with Connor Norman and Corey Moore playing safety on the second team.
- Second-team inside linebackers: Reggie Carter and Ryne Rankin. Second-team outside linebackers: T.J. Stripling and Chase Vasser.
- Back to the offense: Chris Conley missed practice to attend his brother's wedding. (Yes, his brother was getting married on a Thursday.) Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell were the definite first-team receivers, followed by a rotation of Justin Scott-Wesley, Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten.
- Freshman tailback A.J. Turman has good size. He was working behind J.J. Green and Brandon Harton, but it was only Turman's first day of practice.
- Freshman tight end Jordan Davis looks really ... lithe, is the word I would use. He looks a lot skinnier than a typical tight end, and definitely more svelte than Lynch and Jay Rome. The coaches seemed to be giving Davis a good deal of reps as the third-string tight end, getting him ready to play.
- Injury report: Davin Bellamy (shoulder) was in a green jersey. Fluker is limited with a hamstring strain. Walk-on receiver Mike Erdman is limited with a hamstring strain.
Richt amends Clowney thoughts
Head coach Mark Richt caused quite a stir Monday by saying South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney "might be the very best player who exists today, at any level." He back-tracked a bit on Thursday, though not too much.
I think I said he might be the best one on the planet and it became news," Richt said, with a laugh. "I think hes the best college football player in America. There are a couple of other guys you could debate on that. I think I said that if you give him a couple of years of him learning in the NFL, my bet is hell be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way of saying it.
Offensive line updates
The newly-eligible Kolton Houston will begin practice as the second-teamer at left guard, according to Richt.
"I dont know if Coach (Will) Friend has totally nailed down where everybody is going to be, but starting out hell be at the left guard position," Richt said. "Hes going to cross train, and hell know the right guard position. Hes athletic enough to play tackle as well. We dont want to give him too much, but day one hes sitting at No. 2 left guard right now.
New graduate assistant Christian Robinson works with inside linebackers