Assistant coaches hint, but don't announce, personnel moves

semerson@macon.comOctober 15, 2013 

ATHENS - There could be a change in the starting lineup on the offensive line. That's not the case yet at inside linebacker, at least not yet. And in the secondary, if changes are coming no one is saying quite yet.

That was the news, such as it was, from assistant coaches following Tuesday's Georgia football practice.

Offensive line coach Will Friend was cagey about who would start at right tackle on Saturday at Vanderbilt, after Kolton Houston had a rough game against Missouri. Sophomore John Theus, who started every game at right tackle last year, has been rotating in for about a third of the past few games.

"John played better than him Saturday," Friend said. "I know Kolton's disappointed in the way he played, and we want him to play better. And Kolton will bounce back. He's a competitor. I expect him to play well on Saturday."

So who will start Saturday?

"We'll see Saturday," Friend said, grinning.

Houston, a fourth-year junior, has started every game this season, though he started once at left guard. That spot is off the table now, and it's just Houston and Theus at right tackle.

"Kolton's had a couple good ballgames. And he's had moments like they all have," Friend said. "Kolton plays hard. Kolton's played hard this year. He's still young on the ropes, but he brings some athletic ability and some competing and playing hard that's been good. And he just needs to play better on Saturday."

Friend was also asked about guard Brandon Kublanow, the only true freshman on the offensive line who is not being redshirted this year. Kublanow has played only a series or two this year, much to Friend's chagrin. He'd prefer to give Kublanow more seasoning at the end of convincing victories.

"We ain't had a lot of them this year. It's been kinda tough," Friend said, grinning again. "He's gonna be a good player. And he's really doing better in practice. He's just gotta keep coming on. And as you guys have been around know, you'd like to have a few more opportunities to throw him in a bit this year. We ain't had that chance to."

The defense has had the same problem, other than the defensive line, where subbing has been a constant this year. That's not the case at inside linebacker, where Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson pretty much never leave the field.

Freshman Reggie Carter technically got the start against Missouri, but that was only because Wilson had a last-minute equipment problem.

This week, Wilson is dealing with a right knee contusion, but it does not appear serious. Wilson is expected to practice on Wednesday, and there doesn't appear much danger in him missing the Vanderbilt game.

But could Carter spell Wilson more? It's possible, though the coaches are not committing to it.

"There's discussions," inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said. "The whole thing is I trust Reggie, and each week is different. Some weeks it's easier than others to get guys in the game, at different matchups and stuff like that. The thing I like about Reggie is he works the same no matter what. He's been good this week, he's been good last week. I always rave about him, and it's not just coach-speak. I really like him. I like everything he does. I like everything he does on and off the field."

Olivadotti doesn't look at it as one player - such as Carter - spelling another player - such as Wilson. Olivadotti pointed to the past two years when four inside linebackers (Herrera, Alec Ogletree, Mike Gilliard, Christian Robinson) all got a lot of snaps. That wasn't because of an intentional desire to sub, like on the defensive line, but because of different roles in packages.

"The last two years we had four guys playing who each had a role, and we considered each of them starters," Olivadotti said. "And that's what we're working towards, is get guys in different roles that they can excel at, so we've got the best 11 for each situation out there."

So is Carter No. 1 in any role yet?

"He's working his way towards that," Olivadotti said, smiling.

Still, it's clear Carter is the most likely reserve to see the field. Olivadotti also said the other freshmen are "coming along," listing Tim Kimbrough, Ryne Rankin and Johnny O'Neal.

"They're all guys that you're gonna see pop up a little more here and there," Olivadotti said. "They usually pop up on special teams and then all of a sudden they're making some plays there, and you notice them. ... All those guys are starting to earn a lot of trust among the staff, and that's a good thing. That's what freshman are supposed to do. They're supposed to find their way and earn their trust. We're in a good position at linebacker where we're able to bring those guys along at their pace."

Finally, if Georgia's much-maligned secondary will see personnel changes, the coaches aren't saying yet. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham did not reveal any plans, and secondary coach Scott Lakatos did not meet the media.

Of course a lot depends on the status of freshman free safety Tray Matthews, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

"He ran a little bit today," Grantham said. "I haven't seen (athletic trainer) Ron (Courson) yet, so I'll have to see what the report is, and what the diagnosis is."

Sophomore Sheldon Dawson has yet to play much despite entering the preseason as a first-team cornerback. Grantham said they have Dawson in a "couple" packages.

"He's worked hard, and we'd like to get him on the field," Grantham said. "You try to take the players you've got, and put them in the best position to be successful, so if it's something that he can do, red zone or a dime package or something like that, then we'll do it."

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