ATHENS - Georgia's assistant coaches were available for the media on Sunday, following the fourth day of preseason practice. Here are the highlights and nuggets:
- Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been very impressed with his freshmen.
That starts with the three outside linebackers, Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson and James DeLoach. They will also push for playing time at a position that has some space. But cornerback Sheldon Dawson and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons are also likely to see action this year.
The freshman most likely to redshirt is defensive lineman Johnathan Taylor, and that's mainly because of the depth in front of him.
“Johnathan Taylor is a big guy that we’re gonna work and develop. But it doesn’t make much sense to play him with Kwame (Geathers) and Big John (Jenkins) right now," Grantham said. "So that’s a case where we’re gonna work and develop him. But we’re gonna get him ready for down the road.”
- Offensive line coach Will Friend confirmed that they have pinpointed six possible starters who have separated themselves from the rest: Kenarious Gates (left tackle or guard), Chris Burnette (guard), Dallas Lee (guard), David Andrews (center), Watts Dantzler (tackle and perhaps guard) and John Theus (tackle.)
“We’re trying to get to that seven or eight number," Friend said. "I think there’ll be some guys that by the time we start playing some games will be in that seven-to-eight number.”
So who are the closest guys? Friend said sophomore Mark Beard (guard), Hunter Long (guard or center) and Austin Long (tackle).
“I think Mark’s not ready yet but he’s got a chance to get there," Friend said. "I tell you, I think Hunter Long’s been better. And Austin’s been improving. Hunter’s a lot better than he was in the spring and is sure a lot better than he was last fall. He’s got a lot of fight about him.”
- Here's how the safety pecking order looks: Starters Bacarri Rambo (suspension or not) and Shawn Williams, and then Connor Norman slightly ahead of Corey Moore, then Harvey-Clemons depending on how quickly he learns things. Those are the ones with the best chance to play right now.
And wait ... Norman (the former walk-on) over Moore?
"As of right now, yeah," secondary coach Scott Lakatos said. "But it's a matter of, if we have a scrimmage, it may be Corey."
- Harvey-Clemons, originally recruited as a linebacker, is working at both free and strong safety.
"He's so athletic," Lakatos said. "He's long. He's got some strength. He's got some natural ability. He's just all around a pretty good football player. Obviously he's got a lot to learn and a long way to go. But he's gonna be a good player."
- Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had a quick line when a reporter started asking about all "the parts" there were to work on offense this year.
"Well, it seems like every year we're working in new parts at the tailback position," Bobo said, with a kind of rueful laugh.
- At another point, Bobo went on about how much he likes the receiving corps, even without Malcolm Mitchell. So I followed up by asking if he could ever see getting to a point where he doesn’t miss Mitchell that much.,
“No,” Bobo said, laughing.
Then he pointed at the field.
“He’s out there catching balls right now,” he said.
Lakatos, by the way, wouldn't give a pecking order at cornerback yet. He just said Mitchell, Branden Smith and Damian Swann are all "really good."
- Running backs coach Bryan McClendon was asked if there was a better attitude at the tailback position.
“Right now, I think just as far as the mindset our room has right now is very positive," McClendon said. "Everybody is working. Everybody is excited to be there. You’re not having to spend time on a lot of negative things, so to speak, that’s going to try to take away from anything. … All those guys are conscientious. They’re going to make sure that they’re on time, that they’re doing everything right. So you’re not having to waste a lot of time on things like that.”