ATHENS — Will Friend’s first impression of his new players was what you’d expect from someone who just went from coaching in Conference USA to the SEC.
“We’ve got a lot of size, a lot of big guys,” he said.
Friend added that his offensive linemen have to “improve a lot.” Anybody who watched the Georgia football team last year would agree.
For the moment, Friend still has to figure out who is going to play where. The former UAB offensive line coach, who accepted the same job at Georgia in February, is experimenting with a lot of options in spring practice.
The center spot, occupied by rising senior Ben Jones, appears the only set spot. While tackles Cordy Glenn and Trinton Sturdivant are almost certain to start, Friend is working each player on both the left and right side.
Glenn shifted from guard after last season, and Sturdivant, who has had two knee surgeries, has only played left tackle in his career. But for depth reasons, Friend says one or both of them will have to be able to play both tackle spots. Since quarterback Aaron Murray is right-handed, the left tackle spot is considered the most important.
As for the guard spots, Friend said Chris Burnette, who has been the backup center, has impressed him so far. Burnette worked at first-team right guard Tuesday. Kolton Houston, who has been working at multiple spots, has also impressed Friend.
Justin Anderson has moved back to offense after one year on the defensive line. The year on the other side of the ball has Anderson catching up a bit, according to Friend, and the rising senior also isn’t completely healed from his turf toe injury. Brent Benedict, who is also competing at guard, is also getting back up to speed after knee surgery 19 months ago.
“We’ve graded everything,” Friend said. “When you kind of come in, they haven’t played for me. I’ve watched tape on four or five that played last year. ... Somebody’s gotta run out there when they says, ‘Ones go out there.’ But other than that it’s zero to zero in that room.”
Alec Ogletree update
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Alec Ogletree, who has shifted from safety to inside linebacker, will have an easier adjustment because he’s already familiar with the play calls.
The shift of Ogletree was a surprise considering he came on late last year as a starter, but Grantham issued reminders on Tuesday as to why it was made.
“The reason we made the moves we made was to create depth and to get some guys that we feel can make plays closer to the ball,” Grantham said. “It’s also created an opportunity for someone in the secondary to step up and take that position.”
Secondary coach Scott Lakatos said he didn’t fight the move of Ogletree, saying he deferred to what made the defense better overall. Last year Shawn Williams and Jakar Hamilton couldn’t hold off Ogletree for the starting spot; now they have another shot at it.
“They just need to continue to get reps and learn,” Lakatos said. “That’s how you learn, you learn by doing things.”
This and that
Washaun Ealey didn’t practice Tuesday because of a left hamstring injury. The team called Ealey’s status day-to-day, while running backs coach Bryan McClendon said it was “nothing serious.” ...
Nose tackle Kwame Geathers got a positive review for his play so far.
“I think like anything competition makes us all better,” Grantham said, alluding to the impending arrival of junior college nose tackle John Jenkins.