Grantham tinkering in one spot, holding steady at others

semerson@macon.comSeptember 11, 2013 


Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham works with his squad during a pre game warmup for South Carolina.


ATHENS - Todd Grantham was upbeat with his players after Saturday's game, emphasizing the second-half performance and goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.

A couple days later, of course, Georgia's defensive coordinator jumped into bad-cop mode.

"I think they felt good about themselves till we got to the meetings on Monday," Grantham said.

Georgia's defense gave up 454 yards to South Carolina, and although the team still came away with a victory, clearly the offense carried the day in a 41-30 victory. A week earlier, Clemson put up 467 yards in a 38-35 win over the Bulldogs.

Now Grantham has an extra week to tinker and cajole, as Georgia has a bye week before its next game, against North Texas.

"I think you saw improvements in individuals in the last game relative to the first game. And I think what we've gotta do is continue to build on that," Grantham said.

The player who had the roughest game was freshman cornerback Brendan Langley, but his starting spot looks secure for now. Grantham said his message to Langley was just "keep playing."

"You know if he makes that interception there the you guys are talking about how the young guys are making plays now," Grantham said. "He had a chance to make a play. They (opponents) are gonna know where he's at, so they're gonna throw at you, so be ready to make a play."

But one move that could be in the works is at strong safety, where freshman Quincy Mauger appears likely to get involved.

Senior Connor Norman started there at Clemson, and then alternated with junior Corey Moore during the South Carolina game. (Technically Josh Harvey-Clemons is the starter at strong safety, but he plays the star in Georgia's nickel defense, which it uses most of the time.)

"Corey's a guy that showed up in the game a little bit," Grantham said. "Connor gives us some verbage back there and some communication skills. But we've been pleased with Quincy and his special teams play, and we're gonna continue to evaluate all those guys."

Asked if that meant Mauger, who has played free safety, could then play some strong safety, Grantham replied: "I'm not gonna rule anything out."

Then there's the issue of subbing. Head coach Mark Richt has said he wants more inside linebackers to play, but that doesn't mean Amarlo Herrera will be the one taking a seat at any point.

"He'll keep getting all the snaps," Grantham said.

A few other notes from interviews with Richt and assistant coaches:

- A couple days after being quoted saying Steve Spurrier told him not to take the Georgia job in 1992, Richt said that Spurrier was kidding around, and that it was in 2001, before Richt actually did take the job.

"It might've been during the time that I was interviewing for the Georgia job. I think he was just playfully saying 'I wouldn't take that Georgia job if I were you,' " Richt said. "But it was not that big a deal."

- There is no thought being given to resting tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall against North Texas, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

- The same goes for the quarterback spot, where Bobo said he's not considering giving Hutson Mason any snaps with the first team during the game.

- Left tackle Kenarious Gates has an ankle and knee injury that caused him to miss Wednesday's practice. (Richt described it as a grade 1 MCL.) But Richt reiterated that he expects Gates to be ready by next week's game.

- Tight end Jay Rome and receiver Jonatham Rumph, who each missed the South Carolina game, have been practicing this week.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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