Georgia’s spring dominated by off-field news

semerson@macon.comApril 14, 2012 

ATHENS -- Isaiah Crowell sat in the Georgia locker room Saturday and spoke cheerfully. He smiled when asked about the Twitter account that parodies him, admitted he reads it and thinks it’s funny.

The much-criticized tailback also admitted that he heard Georgia fans cheering him Saturday, as opposed to the boos that cascaded when he limped off in the SEC championship game.

“I appreciate that,” Crowell said. “Because I know when you do stuff good, they’ll be on your side, and when you do stuff bad, they won’t be on your side. I understand that.”

The scene was quite a contrast from the end of last season. Crowell not making news this spring might actually have been news, and that was fitting, considering how the past month went for the Bulldogs. It was more eventful off the field:

• On the negative side, there was the news breaking about the impending suspensions of safety Bacarri Rambo and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. Georgia hasn’t confirmed anything, but the G-Day program cover was the same as the pre-spring media guide, except Rambo and Ogletree were edited out. So take that as a message.

• On the positive side, there was a flurry of commitments. Two more recruits committed Saturday: defensive back Reggie Wilkerson (for next year’s signing class) and receiver Demare Kitt (for 2014). That brought Georgia’s current haul for next year to 15 and four for 2014.

Like most teams, spring practice did not move the discussion a drastic amount for Georgia. There weren’t many heated position battles that were solved. On the plus side, there were no serious injuries.

Come the summer, the arrival of a number of key recruits (especially offensive tackle John Theus) will have an impact. But after four weeks of spring practice, here’s what can be said on some areas of concern:

Backup quarterback

This game had to bolster the coaches’ confidence in Christian LeMay, even if he was going against the second-team defense. LeMay’s passes were mostly on target, and he began the day with nice touch on a 26-yard pass to Rantavious Wooten.

Hutson Mason remains the top choice if something happens to Aaron Murray. Mason will redshirt if all goes well, but LeMay is still well behind him in the eyes of the coaches. But LeMay’s performance on Saturday moves him a bit closer to being a viable option.

“He’s come a million miles from last year,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He shows flashes. He’s gotta become more consistent.”

Tailbacks

Ken Malcome and Crowell didn’t have any long carries, but they showed a good running style. Malcome got the start, but the two shared carries and had very similar days.

Malcome and Crowell will enter the preseason as the top two tailbacks. (Richard Samuel still seems likely to play fullback, despite getting a bunch of tailback carries late on Saturday.) Star recruit Keith Marshall was out with a hamstring injury, but he’ll have a say in the battle eventually. So might Todd Gurley, the other tailback recruit. But for now it’s Malcome and Crowell.

Offensive line

This remains the biggest worry spot, especially in terms of depth. Georgia may have more available bodies, but quality depth is a major concern, as the spring game showed. The Black Team offense was ineffective, consistently dominated by the second- and third-teamers on defense.

The Black Team came back to win, but only after Mason and Samuel -- who started the day on the Red Team -- were shifted over to help.

But head coach Mark Richt took solace in the second drive of the day for the starting offense, when it had a long drive for a touchdown against the starting defense.

“I felt the line improved as spring went along, and showed some signs of that (Saturday),” Richt said.

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