ATHENS, Ga. -- The fact that Branden Smith played so much on offense on G-Day was a surprise to many – including Smith.
“I didn’t even know I was going to play any offense at all today, until (offensive) coach (Mike) Bobo told me to get in,” Smith said. “So you know, I’m here.”
That he is, and it appears that Smith, who started at cornerback, could be in for a larger role on offense.
Yes, we’ve heard that before. But Bobo made it clear afterwards that he wants to use Smith on offense next fall.
“He was such a weapon you had to get the ball in his hands. And Branden has shown the ability to do that, and we’ve got to find more ways to get him the ball.”
Smith has played offense before, but said he didn’t see any action on that side during spring.
But he ended up getting a lot of touches throughout the G-Day game, finishing with two catches for 38 yards, including the game’s first touchdown, and two rushes for 11 yards.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham shook his head when asked if he would have to “fight” to keep Smith on defense.
“There ain’t no fight,” Grantham said. “Anything to do to help us win. Obviously, he’s not going to be a full-time guy there (on offense). He’ll be a role player. But anything that can help us get explosive plays, because he’s an explosive guy.”
Head coach Mark Richt said he expects to use Smith on offense “maybe as much or more” as he did last year. (Smith had six rushes for 46 yards and two catches for 17 yards as a sophomore.) Then Richt added that he’d like to use another cornerback, Brandon Boykin, on offense as well. Boykin was out for G-Day with a concussion.
The problem is that Smith wears the same No. 1 as former Carver standout Isaiah Crowell, and you can’t use players with the same number at the same time.
“We need to figure that out, because he needs to be on offense,” Bobo said.
Mason’s ‘sticky situation’
Backup quarterback Hutson Mason graded his day out as a B-minus or C-plus. He passed for 109 yards, but also threw the game’s lone interception.
Still, he finished the spring as the clear backup to starter Aaron Murray, as true freshman Christian LeMay continues to learn the playbook.
That doesn’t guarantee that Mason won’t redshirt.
“I don’t know man. It’s a sticky situation that I’m in,” Mason said, alluding to the fact that he and Murray are both sophomores. “The only thing I’ve tried to do is just compete every day. I’ll evaluate myself and my situation when it comes to that time. But you know, they just tell me to go out there and compete every day so that’s what I’m doing.”
Richt said he expects LeMay to factor into the quarterback situation this fall.
In the meantime, Mason doesn’t want to rush into anything.
“I don’t want to make an impulsive decision right here and say I wish I did (redshirt),” he said. “It would probably be something I would have to sit down and think about what’s best for my future. I don’t want to say yea or nay right now.”
They’re saying ‘Boo’
It was almost a lost spring for Ken “Boo” Malcome, who sat out much of practice with a hamstring injury. But the redshirt freshman was healthy enough to do plenty with his seven carries on Saturday, scoring a touchdown and notching 41 yards.
“It was great to see Ken do that at the end of the game,” Bobo said. “He’s just been real frustrated because he hasn’t really had a chance to show himself this spring because of the injury. And today he ran hard. He looked a little bit like we saw last fall in him and made us contemplate taking him out of his redshirt.”
Richt said Malcome did a good job of running in space, and finishing his runs well. The latter is one of Malcome’s strengths, according to Richt, as Malcome is more of a bruiser than a speed tailback.
Senior Caleb King also “did well,” according to Richt. But he reiterated what Bobo said earlier this week about the tailback competition, where Crowell figures heavily.
“I thought overall those guys ran the ball pretty good. But it was nothing to shake the world,” Richt said. “I mean I’m not sitting here saying that guy’s the starting tailback. We’ll definitely have a competition in the fall.”
Tight end Orson Charles was named the co-offensive MVP of spring, along with Murray. But Richt said he was the overall MVP in his own mind.
The main reason for that is work ethic.
“Even wind sprints at the end of practice, he’d go as hard as he can go,” Richt said. “The last guy that I can remember giving that kind of effort every play and every day was (David) Pollack. I see that attitude and effort and that relentlessness to be great, and not care what anybody says about it.”