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ATHENS - It's a beautiful day for a spring game. So let's blog about it. Check in here all day for extended notes and quotes, and for quick-hitting updates you can go to the home page to read all of my tweets.
Here are the official G-Day rosters, which are essentially split into first-team offense vs. first-team defense, and second-teamers vs. second-teamers. A few notes on that:
- Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are on the same team, a sign they will continue to rotate them, and want each to get action with Aaron Murray and the first-team line. Freshman J.J. Green is also on the first-team offense roster, which is interesting, a sign they want him to get some snaps with the first-teamers as well.
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- The battle for the No. 3 quarterback job: Christian LeMay is on Murray's team, while Parker Welch is with Hutson Mason's team. Meanwhile, Brice Ramsey is on Murray's team. So is Faton Bauta, but I don't expect him to play much.
- Notably on the second-team defensive roster: CB Devin Bowman, ILB Ryne Rankin, SS Corey Moore, ILB Reggie Carter, DE Ray Drew, DT Chris Mayes, DL John Taylor and DT John Atkins.
- The first-team defense, if you go by the roster, falls in line with what we've been writing this spring: DE Sterling Bailey, S Josh Harvey-Clemons, S Tray Matthews, CB Reggie Wilkerson, FS Connor Norman, NT Mike Thornton, and then the usual suspects. Also notable that OLB James DeLoach is first team.
- Notably on the first-team offensive roster (emphasis on offensive line): C David Andrews, OT Xzavier Ward, G Dallas Lee, T John Theus, OL Kenarious Gates, OT Austin Long, plus receivers Rhett McGowan, Chris Conley, Jonathan Rumph, and Rantavious Wooten.
- The top players on the second-team offensive roster, besides Mason, include RB Brandon Harton, OL Watts Dantzler, G Greg Pyke, OL Aulden Bynum, TE Jay Rome and WR Justin Scott-Wesley.
Having said all this, I'm sure players will rotate between teams, especially as the game goes on.
Georgia announced its spring awards just now. Here they are:
The list of 2013 awards is as follows:
MVP (offense) – Chris Conley, FLK, Dallas
True Grit Award (offense) – Xzavier Ward, OT, Moultrie
Coffee County Hustle Award (offense) – Justin Scott-Wesley, FLK, Camilla
Most Improved Player (offense) – Quayvon Hicks, FB, Blackshear
Outstanding Walk-On (offense) – Clay Johnson, WR, Calhoun
MVP (defense) – Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Valdosta.
True Grit Award (defense) – Sterling Bailey, DE, Gainesville
Coffee County Hustle Award (defense) – Ramik Wilson, ILB, Tampa, Fla.
Most Improved Player (defense) – Tray Matthews, S, Newnan
Outstanding Walk-On (defense) – Clint Kirk, DE, Perry, Ga.; Tristan Askew, DB, Kent, Wa.
One more player apparently being held out because of injury: Freshman ILB Ryne Rankin, who tweeted that he's not playing because of an ankle sprain.
Others not playing: WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee), WR Michael Bennett (knee), WR Tramel Terry (knee), G Chris Burnette (shoulder), CB Sheldon Dawson (hamstring).
Starting lineup notes
The game has begun. Some starting lineup notes:
- Reggie Wilkinson got the start at cornerback, opposite of Damian Swann. That's not a huge surprise, as I wrote yesterday that Wilkinson, a freshman, was getting reps with the first-team now that Sheldon Dawson (hamstring) is out.
- John Theus started at left tackle. Further confirmation of what's in the works.
- The rest of the defense was the way it's been looking all spring: Josh Harvey-Clemons at safety, then moving down to his nickel-back role. Tray Matthews and Connor Norman at safety. Ramik Wilson at inside linebacker, next to Amarlo Herrera. The nose tackle was Mike Thornton.
- The offense rotated in a lot of receivers on the first drive. Rantavious Wooten started, Rhett McGowan came in, and then Justin Scott-Wesley caught the touchdown on the first drive.
Some first-quarter observations
- Hutson Mason doesn't have much to work with on offense, but his passing didn't exactly impress in the first quarter. He was picked off on the fourth drive, after scrambling right and trying to dump it off. It was a pretty silly mistake. Mason also missed on a couple open passes, and the biggest play for the Black offense was a 29-yard run by Kyle Karempelis.
- The first-team defense, which many are here to see perform, had an abysmal opening drive but recovered well. The next four drives were all three-and-outs, with the first-team offense struggling to run it, and also not giving Murray much time to pass.
- That offensive line really struggled after the first drive, with one of the sacks coming to Reggie Wilkinson, but overall not getting much push against the first-team line. The run blocking, as stated, has also been pretty rough.
- Harvey-Clemons is playing both the traditional safety and the nickel-back role. He's spending a lot of time near the line on likely run downs. His run defense looked good, making a nice leg-tackle on Keith Marshall for a tackle-for-loss.
- It was freshman Reggie Carter who picked off that Mason pass. Carter is an inside linebacker but he's also apparently a ball hawk, as he was credited with several interceptions during scrimmages.
- I gotta wonder what Mike Bobo was up to, trying a trick play on the first play. A little funnin' with Todd Grantham early? It didn't work out, because Arthur Lynch dropped Wooten's pass. But look for more of that kinda fun later in the game.
- The Red team (first-team offense) has a 17-7 lead, having scored lightning-quick on its first and last drives of the half. Aaron Murray went into the one-minute offense and scored on three plays: Long passes to Rhett McGown and Justin Scott-Wesley, then a nice little corner pass near the pylon to McGowan. (That, by the way, is why McGowan doesn't get talked about nearly enough. He's going to keep playing for this offense.)
- Still, it was still a relatively quiet first half for the first-team offense, especially considering it looked primed to score at will after the first drive. So what to make of this? Does it mean the offense has more work to do, or the defense will be better than expected? I'd tend to think that overall it was an encouraging first half for Georgia, with one exception (which I'll get to): The first-team defense showed some good things, both against the pass and the run. The offense, meanwhile, showed it still has the quick-strike ability.
The concern, in my mind, is the offensive line. The run-blocking was pretty nonexistent, and there were too many holes in the pass-blocking. There's still time to straighten it out, but the run-blocking in particular is a worry. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall weren't really in the game.
- Now the second-team offense: Hutson Mason isn't having much success passing, but he's showing decent scrambling ability. He ran for 25 yards at one point, and he had some a few more four- and five-yard gains. He's no leadfoot, apparently.
- The second-team offense finally cracked the end zone with 1:01 left in the half. Mason hit receiver Jonathan Rumph over the middle, and the 6-foot-5 Rumph squeezed into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown play. That may be an important score for Rumph, who is trying to crack the receiving rotation to start the season.
- It's still been a rough first half for the second-team offense. The problem for Mason, when it comes to having a good day, is he's playing with the second-team offensive line, which is pretty far behind its first-team brethren, while Mason is going against the second-team front seven, which has some guys who will get serious playing time. (John Taylor, Chris Mayes, T.J. Stripling, etc.) The only player on Mason's offensive line who's been getting many first-team snaps is left tackle Mark Beard.
(By the way, the second offensive line, in order from left to work: Beard, freshman Josh Cardiello, Hunter Long, Zach DeBell, Watts Dantzler.
- The official attendance: 45,113.
Passing: Murray 8-12, 1 TD, 0 INT, 92 yards; Mason 10-19, 1 TD, 1 INT, 62 yards; LeMay 0-1.
Rushing: Mason 9-33 yards, Karempelis 1-29, Gurley 4-25, Green 3-12, Harton 8-4.
Receiving: McGowan 3-55, Scott-Wesley 2-53, Erdman 4-27, Rumph 2-25, Green 3-12, Rome 2-12.
Punting: Barber 5-41.0 average, Erickson 3-34.3, Jackson 2-33.
Third quarter observations
- Left tackles John Theus and Mark Beard traded teams after the half, giving Beard a chance to play with the first-team offense. Tight end Jay Rome, one of the few potential playmakers on the Black Team, was also moved to the Red Team for the second half.
- Honestly, there isn't too much besides that. The game has slowed down a lot, with the Red Team (first-half offense) pulling back and not trying much. The Black team has taken advantage to tie it, and pad its offensive stats a bit, and tie the game at 17.
- Kyle Karempelis was the most notable player in the quarter, which, in all due respect to The Greek God of Tailbacks, tells you something. Karemeplis is now the game's leading rusher, although he did fumble the ball away.
- Receiver Jonathan Rumph recorded his second touchdown of the day, playing for the Black Team. That's good for him, although it bears noting he did it against the second-team defense.
I have to head down to the locker room before the game ends. But I will say that the Black Team, coached by Todd Grantham and quarterbacked most of the way by Hutson Mason, has a 20-17 lead with under four minutes left. And it has the ball, after the first-team defense held on fourth-and-1.
Mike Bobo really wanted the win, apparently: He subbed in Aaron Murray and some other first-teamers just for that fourth-down play. But a pitchout to Keith Marshall was snuffed out by Jordan Jenkins.