ATHENS - Todd Grantham is not worried about his secondary. No really, he's not. Really.
Georgia's defensive backs have been racked by injuries and several potential starters missed Wednesday night's final scrimmage of the preseason. But Grantham, the defensive coordinator in charge of stopping Clemson, or at least holding the Tigers in check, said the secondary situation isn't keeping him up at night.
"Nah. Hey, we've got the guys we've got, and I think the guys that played last night did a good job," Grantham said. "I think they're pretty conscientious. They've just gotta understand the gameplan and understand where their help is, and just gotta keep working."
Free safety Tray Matthews looms as perhaps the key player who needs to return. The freshman has been out this week with a hamstring injury, but Grantham shrugged off a question about when Matthews would return to practice. But he shrugged it off, with a hint of optimism.
"All I go is by the day, and today everybody was getting a little bit better. We're gonna practice on Friday and Saturday, and hopefully we can get some reps for those guys to start preparing for Clemson," Grantham said.
Strong safety Corey Moore has been out for awhile with a knee sprain, and strong safety Shaquille Fluker has been ill and missed practice this week. That compounds the problem created by sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons, the first-team strong safety in the base defense, being suspended for the opener. Projected starting cornerback Sheldon Dawson did not play in the practice game with a sprained shoulder, but he was no longer on the injury report Thursday.
The players who are healthy have played well, according to Grantham, particularly freshmen cornerbacks Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins.
"We got some guys back last night. Shaq (Wiggins) practiced, and had an interception, did some nice things. I think those guys are continuing to get healthy, and we'll just continue to treat them, and get them out there when we can," Grantham said. "I think Langley's done a great job. He's been serious about learning our system since really we signed him in February. He's taken ownership in trying to learn the defense."
On another note, there apparently isn't a decision in the battle between James DeLoach and Leonard Floyd to start at outside linebacker. Grantham indicated that both will play a lot of snaps, and their performance will dictate what happens going forward.
Defensive line update: Bailey emerges again
Defensive line coach Chris Wilson said he feels comfortable with six players right now, though he didn't want to say who comprises those six. Senior defensive end Garrison Smith remains the player who has most separated himself from the rest, which isn't surprising given he's the only returning starter.
But Wilson did single out another player: Sterling Bailey, who finished the spring as the first-team defensive end, but has had a quieter preseason.
"Sterling Bailey has done some things that have helped his cause," Wilson said. "We'll obviously be preparing him till we kick the ball off. So that's the thing, you've gotta see the guys - everybody likes to play. We've gotta find guys that like to win. That's kind of what we're developing right now."
"Now we're finally starting the gameplan phase of Clemson, and so now you're trying to marry up your players with the gameplan, and create the matchups you need for Clemson. I like the six guys I've got. I haven't really settled on a guy because we haven't settled on a gameplan as of yet. But as that gets closer and closer we'll be closer to knowing who the six or seven guys hopefully who we'll go win the game with."