ATHENS - Damian Swann got a new coach and had to prove himself all over again. He has apparently done that. Jeremy Pruitt, the secondary coach and defensive coordinator, said Tuesday that Swann was the only defensive back who was playing "winning football."
Pruitt hadn't actually told Swann that, but that's the kind of thing that's nice to hear through the media. Still, the senior cornerback appreciates it, he knows it doesn't mean for the secondary as a whole.
"It's not about me, because I'm not a guy who's going to be able to go out and cover everybody on the field," Swann said. "And for us to win games, it's going to have to be a group thing, especially on the back end. And that's what it's all about. The comment, it'll give me confidence. But at the end of the day, me and myself isn't what's going to help us win games. We're gonna make sure that everybody is ready to play football come Aug. 30."
When asked who is impressing him this preseason, Swann pointed to the safeties, naming Aaron Davis, Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders. The latter is a true freshman.
"Dominick Sanders is one of those guys who isn't afraid. He'll stick his nose in there, and that's what you need when you're practicing against the (first team offense)," Swann said. "When they're not afraid to run up against Todd (Gurley) or run up against Keith (Marshall). And that's what we need."
"I got a lot of confidence in these guys," Swann said. "Once we keep it going to where we can learn the system, and just go out and play football, I think we can be very good. Regardless of the youth, regardless of the inexperience that we have back here."
The heat of the moment
The Bulldogs are in the midst of a pretty intense stretch of practices: Two-a-days on Wednesday and Friday, and in between a practice in hot and humid weather.
Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins showed up for interviews just after hopping in the hot and cold tubs. He said that was a common destination for players these days, and that includes the kickers: Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber dive in face-first and stay there for about 10 seconds.
"That water, it's nasty. And they sit under there for about 10 seconds," Jenkins said. "I don't know how they do it."
Tempers also have flared at practice: Lorenzo Carter, the freshman outside linebacker, got into it with John Theus, the junior offensive tackle, during Wednesday's practice, according to Jenkins.
"We broke it up before things got a little too hectic," Jenkins said, smiling. "But I got a feeling (Carter) is going to get into it with somebody again real soon."
Wilson taking "mental reps"
Ramik Wilson missed a fourth straight day of practice, but fellow inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera downplayed the long-range effects of Wilson being out.
"He's taking mental reps, and mental reps are just as good as physical reps," Herrera said. "You've got to play it mentally before you can play it physically."
Herrera didn't want to confirm that Wilson has a concussion. He had a little fun with the secrecy about personnel on defense. When asked who was playing beside him with Wilson out, Herrera said it was Swann, the cornerback.
A reporter followed up by saying he heard Todd Gurley was also getting a look at inside linebacker.
"They're putting in that package tomorrow," Herrera said, deadpan.
For the record, sophomore Reggie Carter is getting the first-team reps while Wilson is out, which isn't very surprising since Carter was the top reserve last year.
"He's not afraid to come up and hit somebody, which is something all the upcoming inside backers share," Jenkins said. "He knows the defense, he helps whenever I have coverage he makes sure I get the same call he does. He's real efficient at getting everybody on board with what's going on, and if there's any check or something he gets it across to everybody on the field real easily."