ATHENS - Greetings from the first two-a-days of Georgia's preseason. The team will be holding a regular full-team practice in the morning, then a special teams run-through in the late afternoon. This leads up to the first full scrimmage on Wednesday.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my story on Ben Jones, the senior center who has taken on a leadership role, all while maintaining a bit of a clownish side. An excerpt:
When he’s not being interviewed himself, Jones can be seen wandering over to other teammates, interrupting with some playful pokes or gestures. He can be the same way in other settings too, but only to a point.
“Ben’s a big teddy bear,” senior cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “But when you make him mad, he’s a completely opposite person. On the field he’s the nastiest player. But off the field he’s one of my good friends.” ...
Meanwhile, cornerback Branden Smith continues to be the early story of camp, at least as far as veterans. But don't try to get the junior to lobby for more time on offense, as he's just trying to earn a starting job on defense.
As for his sparking play in practice, Smith credited his offseason work, citing Joe Tereshinski’s offseason program.
“I’ve been physical out there. I’m running faster. I’m stronger,” Smith said. “I really feel like I’m a different player. I love it. I love it.”
Here are some other items in our morning blog:
What they're saying about Georgia: The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, as part of its preseason "football tour," checks in Georgia. The story by Kyle Veazey (who just came over after several years on the Ole Miss and Mississippi State beats) has a twin focus on Mark Richt's hot seat and Aaron Murray's chances of taking Richt off of it.
Story from elsewhere in the SEC: Speaking of Ole Miss, the Rebels will be Georgia's first true road game, on Sept. 24. They're currently auditioning for a starting quarterback, after Jeremiah Masoli's one-year layover in Oxford. According to this story, Barry Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, has the lead right now. Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer, still has a ways to go to catch up to Brunetti.
ESPN.com rates Ole Miss as having the third-biggest quarterback battle of the preseason.
YouTube flashback of the day: Last Friday Nick Saban, always warm and cuddly with the media, got in a tizzy over Internet rumors about injuries on his Alabama football team: "You all can go crazy out on misinformation and bad information. And have no professionalism to try to find out if it did or didn’t happen. ..." Then he threatened, perhaps half-jokingly, that he would start planting rumors on message boards himself.
Asked about that, new Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who worked under Saban at LSU, had a good crack: "I know that if he wants to put something on a message board, somebody will have to turn the computer on for him, show him how to use the mouse, and probably keyboard it for him,'' Muschamp said. "He's not very advanced as far as technology is concerned.''
Maybe Saban has learned to use a mouse by now. And who knows, maybe Bryant Gumbel has too. But with all that as inspiration, here's a 1981 story on a San Francisco television station about this newfangled thing called the Internet, which we're sure will just be a fad.
Song of the day: We'll bring you a new artist today, or new couple of artists, a duet called "The Civil Wars." As a Civil War buff we kind of had high hopes for this, but turns out it's just a man and a woman who appear to do a lot of singing/moaning. But we have to admit, this song "Barton Hollow" can be pretty catchy, in an "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" kinda way. Anyway, the group is starting to get more notice and airplay, so maybe we're on the ground floor of a new hit thing.
Inspirational quote of the day: "Hitch your wagon to a star." - Ralph Waldo Emerson .... "Derek Owens has a sprained ankle. Or a hamstring. I'm not sure which. OK, I gotta go to the bathroom." - Seth Emerson