Offense has a 'sluggish' day in first preseason scrimmage

semerson@macon.comAugust 7, 2013 

ATHENS - The defensive players called it a draw. The offensive players said the defense had a better day. In other words, it was another example of where each unit is: The offense has high expectations, the defense is still embracing the forward steps.

Of course, one detail on the stat sheet was pretty ugly: Interceptions. Starting quarterback Aaron Murray had three of them, freshman Brice Ramsey had two, and sophomore Christian LeMay had one. Murray had a good day otherwise (198 passing yards), and the tailback tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 139 yards on 14 carries.

But it also came against a depleted defense, especially at outside linebacker and in the secondary. Starting free safety Tray Matthews (shoulder sprain), potential starting strong safety Corey Moore (knee sprain) and reserve cornerback Shaq Wiggins (groin sprain) and reserve safeties Mark Deas (elbow strain) and Quincy Mauger (hamstring strain) were held out.

Projected starting outside linebacker James DeLoach (thumb surgery) was also out, along with fellow outside linebackers Chase Vasser (ankle sprain), Leonard Floyd (hand surgery) and Davin Bellamy (thumb surgery). And reserve nose tackle Chris Mayes (concussion) was also out. Those players are expected back soon.

Head coach Mark Richt agreed that the defense had a better day.

"I thought the guys looked a little tired. ... There wasn't as much juice," Richt said. "It was a little disappointing to me, quite frankly."

Hutson Mason, the No. 2 quarterback who got a lot of snaps with the first-team, said the offense wasn't up to par in the scrimmage, which was held at Sanford Stadium. Mason said there too many turnovers.

"I think we kind of lacked the passion and enthusiasm," Mason said, blaming that partly on it being the sixth straight day of preseason camp. "But it's no excuse. We've gotta come out. We've gotta come out with better senior, upperclassmen leadership. We've gotta be able to push those guys, whether you're a senior or a backup. The defense really played better than us today."

Tight end Arthur Lynch was a bit more restrained, calling the offensive performance "sluggish."

"I wouldn't say lackadaisical. I just think we had some turnovers early that we weren't expecting, and that kind of threw us off a little bit," Lynch said. "I thought we finished some blocks that were really key. On third downs, we were 100 percent with that with the (first-team). Goal-line, we were doing well. But we've just got to keep up-tempo, and really we're an up-tempo offense, and these six-play drives, these eight-play drives, we've gotta finish plays. I think we're in good condition, we've just gotta keep that burst, and not plateau."

Sophomore linebacker Josh Dawson was upbeat about the defense, but called it a draw.

"The offense made some big plays. But we made some big plays also. The offense made some errors, and so did we," Dawson said. "It was the first scrimmage, so you're gonna have those type things. But as long as we keep making progress, and not going back, we should be fine."

A few other tidbits:

- Receivers Michael Bennett (hamstring), Rantavious Wooten (hamstring strain) and Blake Tibbs (shoulder spring) and tight end Jay Rome (ankle sprain) were among the players who sat out. Tramel Terry, recovering from knee surgery, did play but didn't register in the stats.

- Guard Chris Burnette, who is being eased back after offseason shoulder surgery, also didn't play. Greg Pyke (ankle sprain) didn't play either.

- Freshman Cornerback Brendan Langley made an interception against the first-team defense.

- Sophomore receiver Justin Scott-Wesley had a couple long catches.

- Junior safety Shaquille Fluker, the junior college transfer, had a good day, according to Lynch.

"He had a pick. He's coming along," Lynch said.

- Junior Brandon Burrows had a good day at Sam linebacker, according to Lynch.

- Freshman receiver Reggie Davis didn't register in the stats either, but Richt continues to be impressed, saying Davis is "in the race for playing time," and not a candidate right now for a redshirt.


Keith Marshall - 2 carries for 80 yards, a long of 75
Todd Gurley - 12 carries for 59 yards, 1 TD
A.J. Turman - 5 carries for 36 yards
J.J. Green - 8 carries for 21 yards
Brendan Douglas - 6 carries for 5 yards

Aaron Murray - 13 for 18, 198 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Hutson Mason - 12 for 18, 197 yards, 1 TD
Brice Ramsey - 4 for 7, 36 yards, 2 INT
Christian LeMay - 1 for 7, 9 yards, 1 INT

Malcolm Mitchell - 4 catches for 64 yards
Justin Scott-Wesley - 4 catches for 53 yards
Arthur Lynch - 4 catches for 91 yards, 1 TD
Jonathan Rumph - 4 catches for 53 yards
Rhett McGowan - 3 catches for 53 yards, 1 TD
J.J. Green - 3 catches for 20 yards
Chris Conley - 2 catches for 50 yards
Reggie Davis - 2 catches for 23 yards
Multiple players with one catch

Reggie Carter: 6 tackles
Jordan Jenkins: 6 tackles, 3 sacks
T.J. Stripling: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL
Shaquille Fluker: 5 tackles, 1 INT
Connor Norman: 5 tackles
Sheldon Dawson: 4 tackles, 2 INT
Josh Dawson: 3 tackles, 2 sacks
Josh Harvey-Clemons: 3 tackles, 1 sack
Austin Herod: 3 tackles, 1 INT
Damian Swann: 1 INT
Brendan Langley: 1 INT

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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