G-Day notes: O-line juggling, walk-ons, Gurley's health

semerson@macon.comApril 12, 2014 

UGA-GDAY

Red and black take the line at the G Day game Saturday in Sanford Stadium.

EVAN RODENROTH/FOR THE TELEGRAPH

ATHENS - Georgia threw a curveball when it came to its offensive line personnel on Saturday: John Theus, assumed to be the new left tackle, instead started at right tackle, where he spent about half the time.

Rising senior Mark Beard started at left tackle, and the Bulldogs ended up trying a few combinations on the line, as they try to settle the fifth and final starting spot.

David Andrews (a rising senior) is set at center, while Greg Pyke (who will be a sophomore) has vaulted up to be the right guard. Theus and Kolton Houston are also settled in as starters, but where they play hinges on who else earns a spot: Beard, rising sophomore Brandon Kublanow, or even someone else.

“The question is going to be is Kublanow going to be left guard and Theus left tackle, or is Kolton gonna go to left guard and Theus go to right, which puts Mark Beard to the left. So we’re just gonna have to wait and see,” Richt said.

“It would’ve been nice to see (rising senior) Watts Dantzler practice the whole spring, because I thought he was coming along. I think we’ve got probably six, seven, eight, maybe nine offensive linemen who by the time the season rolls around might be able to play for us.”

Walk-ons play big roles

Adam Davis, this year’s version of the walk-on spring story, did indeed get a lot of playing time with the first-team defense on Saturday. But he wasn’t alone. Lucas Redd also saw a lot of time at safety, and even the star position. And Kosta Vavlas, normally a special teams player, played a lot at inside linebacker.

Richt granted that injuries were “part of it,” but also credited the walk-ons for their springs.

“I think Jeremy likes the fact that (Redd) knows how to line up, he knows what to do, he’s a good tackler. He’s definitely competing for playing time,” Richt said. “It’s legitimate for him to think he can play some scrimmage downs.”

Connor Norman was a walk-on who ended up starting some of the time on defense the past few years, as Richt pointed out. And the snaps those walk-ons are getting are evidence for the secondary jobs being truly wide open, the coach added.

Asked if that was a good thing, Richt answered: “I think it is, because it’s letting everyone know that best man wins. These guys are good athletes. They’re good athletes.”

Gurley’s load

Georgia didn’t take it easy with its star tailback. Todd Gurley touched the ball nine times for 70 yards on Saturday, which while not a huge workload was still the second-most touches of any non-quarterback. (Tailback Brendan Douglas had 10 touches.)

Gurley, who dealt last year with a sprained ankle and pulled quad muscle, said afterwards that he still wasn’t at 100 percent, but indicated he was closer.

“I’m still practicing, still going through it,” Gurley said. “I ain’t really hurting, so I’m fine.”

Richt said his uncertainty about Gurley’s status prior to the spring was based on his being held out of mat drills. But after Gurley pushed through the first few spring practices, his head coach was convinced.

“When you’re Todd Gurley, people tend to notice what you do, and you can’t hide,” Richt said. “But we just talked about his ability to lead and his ability to lead by just practicing hard, and buying into what the coaches are doing. I think he took everything very well. I think he did pick up his practice effort.

“And I’m not making excuses for the guy, but when you’re kind of a big-game, competitor guy, and been through it a year or two, spring ball probably just doesn’t get you very excited, quite frankly. He’s just like: Let’s get to Clemson.”

Quote of the day

Quarterback Faton Bauta when asked his top three takeaways from the game:

“One is that we all have a lot of work to do. Two is that we all have a lot of work to do. And three is that we all have a lot of work to do.”

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