ATHENS -- Mark Richt had a laugh this week when he compared the reaction by two of his captains after they helped pick the rosters for Saturday’s G-Day game.
Quarterback Aaron Murray called his position coach to say, “We killed them,” according to Richt.
But center Ben Jones, picking for the Red team, called his position coach and said, “We’re stacked.”
“Both of them walked out of there thinking they kicked their rear end on it,” Richt said. “They were both excited.”
Letting the players draft the teams, rather than the coaches splitting them up strategically, was a fun idea. It also may have been another sign that this spring wasn’t quite as intense as others have been for the Bulldogs.
There was no major quarterback controversy. There are no new offensive or defensive coordinators. And many of the position battles are in a holding pattern until the highly touted recruits arrive on campus in the fall.
That doesn’t mean the G-Day game will be an exercise in futility. It would still behoove a few players to have a good day, such as any of the tailbacks. And the stakes are high: The winning team gets to eat steak and lobster; the losers get beanie weenies.
But the game may lose a bit of luster with so many players injured. About one-sixth of the team’s scholarship players in camp will miss the game. That includes notables like tailback Washaun Ealey, safety Bacarri Rambo, and possibly cornerback Brandon Boykin -- one of the captains who along with Murray picked the Black team.
Here’s a look at where some notable players stand after spring practice, but before G-Day:
Kwame Geathers: The nose tackle was named the defensive MVP of camp. Junior college transfer John Jenkins still seems likely to start -- but Geathers will push to share time, or even play with Jenkins.
Caleb King: Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said earlier in the week that no tailbacks had separated themselves from the pack. But based on production in camp, it does seem that King is in the best position to compete with incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell or at least split carries.
Orson Charles: The departure of A.J. Green means the Bulldogs need a new go-to receiver. Charles’ ability at tight end is well known, and the fact he was named co-offensive MVP of the spring means he could establish himself as a focal point of the passing game.
Chris Burnette: The redshirt sophomore started camp as the backup center, but if the season started today he would be the starter at right guard.
Shawn Williams: Mostly by default, since he was one of the few to stay healthy, Williams leaves camp as the favorite to start at free safety. Fellow safeties Rambo, Jakar Hamilton, Mark Deas and Sanders Commings (also a cornerback) have also missed time and may not play on Saturday.
Murray: The sophomore was named the co-offensive MVP of camp. That was a positive sign that Murray isn’t taking it easy after his surprising freshman season.
Justin Anderson: Back on the offensive line, the senior will have a chance to be the right tackle now that Trinton Sturdivant is out. Anderson has said he’s “rusty” on the line, so his performance on Saturday will be worth watching.
Alec Ogletree: The move of the sophomore from safety to inside linebacker was a surprise. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham declared Thursday that spring practice had convinced him it was “100 percent the right thing.” Still, fans will have an eye on Ogletree at his new position.
Bruce Figgins: The senior’s move from tight end to fullback gives him a chance to see the field. Now he has to show that he can block and carry the ball.
WORK TO DO
Ealey: In contrast to King, Ealey has hardly practiced after incurring a hamstring injury. He’s likely out for the game.
Marlon Brown: The 6-foot-4 receiver was the favorite to be the No. 2 receiver but had an inconsistent camp. If he doesn’t play well on G-Day, it will reinforce the idea that freshmen Michael Bennett, Chris Conley or incoming recruit Malcolm Mitchell have a chance to start over him.
The safeties: Williams stayed healthy and won a spring award (for “true grit”) and Rambo is experienced enough that he didn’t really need the practice. But the group struggled last year, then Ogletree moved, and then seemingly everyone got hurt. When summer camp rolls around, this position bears close watching.