ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia assistant coach Warren Belin spent the past eight years at Vanderbilt. But his ties to the current Commodores program go deeper than that.
Belin and first-year Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell grew up in towns about 15 minutes apart in South Carolina. Caldwell knew Belin’s parents before Belin was born.
Caldwell, when he was an assistant at North Carolina State in the 1980s, recruited Belin out of high school. Even though Belin chose Wake Forest, they remained in touch through the years.
When Bobby Johnson was hired at Vanderbilt, Caldwell recommended he hire Belin.
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Like everyone, Belin was surprised at the timing of Johnson’s retirement. But he wasn’t surprised that Caldwell was a hit at SEC Media Days: Caldwell’s performance, filled with quips and stories about inseminating turkeys as a youngster, ended with a rare round of applause from the media.
“Coach Caldwell, he’s got a lot of jokes,” Belin said. “He enjoys life. What you saw and heard (at) the SEC conference, we saw and heard it every day while I was there. He was just being himself.”
Belin admitted this game would be personal — but in a good way. He remains tight with staff members there, as well as others associated with the Vanderbilt program.
“Eight great years as a Commodore,” Belin said. “I’m a Bulldog. I’m excited about being a Bulldog.”
Third down woes
Georgia ranks last in the SEC in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 43.4 percent of the time.
The reason for that, according to head coach Mark Richt, has been giving up too many big plays on third-and-long, which he called “so frustrating.” He pointed to quarterback runs by Colorado and a big pass play or two against Tennessee.
“Our third-and-medium has actually been outstanding compared to our third-and-long,” Richt said. “We just have got to continue to get our guys in position to make the plays and get them to make it.”
Starting outside linebacker Cornelius Washington (concussion) and safety/linebacker Nick Williams (hamstring) were in attendance at practice but did not participate. Cornerback Branden Smith (concussion) was not present.
Starting defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (undisclosed injury) did not practice, but defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Dobbs would be fine.
Receiver Marlon Brown (shoulder) practiced in a non-contact jersey.