ATHENS -- Todd Grantham grinned Thursday when it was mentioned that freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd had been making some plays in scrimmages, at least according to the statistics.
“I don’t know about all those stats they give you guys sometimes,” said Grantham, Georgia’s defensive coordinator.
That wasn’t meant to downplay Floyd’s production, rather Grantham was alluding to his belief that more sacks would be credited to his defensive players if the rules of the scrimmages were different. In which case, Floyd might actually have been credited with a sack, since he wasn’t Wednesday, although he did have four tackles and was singled out for praise by head coach Mark Richt.
In any case, it has become clear by now that Floyd, a former Dodge County star who arrived at Georgia after a year at prep school, is pushing presumed starter James DeLoach at the Sam outside linebacker position. DeLoach earned that first-team spot after spring practice, but he had thumb surgery two weeks ago and is playing with a clubbed-up hand. Floyd, meanwhile, has been drawing notice in practice and making plays in scrimmages.
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“We’re always gonna play guys that produce, so if you make plays in scrimmage and stuff, you’re gonna end up playing,” Grantham said. “I think Leonard has shown flashes of being a playmaker. I think James has the ability to do those things, too. It’s nothing wrong with having more than one. We’re gonna find ways to get guys on the field. ... It’s a good problem to have when those guys are competing.”
Kick return possibilities
Receivers coach Tony Ball is also in charge of the kick return unit, which means deciding on who will return kicks. There seem to be several possibilities there, including one intriguing new name.
Keith Marshall has been getting a look there, along with fellow tailback Todd Gurley, who returned kicks early last season.
“I’d like to see if Keith can do it also,” Ball said. “He’s a speed guy, as well.”
They’re joined in the mix by Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Brendan Langley, J.J. Green and Sheldon Dawson. It’s a crowded group, but Ball would like to not only experiment early in the season and see if someone emerges, but be flexible as the season goes on.
“I’d like to be able to have that luxury of (saying), ‘Hey you get back there this time,’ ” Ball said.
Young receiver decisions await
The depth at receiver is such that a surprisingly impressive freshman (Reggie Davis) still might not play this year and another highly touted freshman (Tramel Terry) doesn’t need to get rushed back from injury.
Ball indicated that any decision on whether to redshirt Davis or Terry would not come immediately. The top six are basically set, although oft-injured senior Rantavious Wooten is out again, this time with a hamstring injury. Georgia typically plays five to seven receivers, so it seems Davis, Terry, redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs and newcomer Jonathan Rumph are battling for one or two spots.
Terry’s situation might be the most fluid. If healthy he would almost certainly play, but he has been candid about not being fully recovered from knee surgery last December. So what is Ball’s approach with Terry?
“If he can improve like we need him to improve, and he can be productive, then you play him,” Ball said. “He’s still being evaluated like everyone else is being evaluated. He has further to go, obviously, because of his injury. So we’ve all got to be patient with him.”
After weeks of uncertainty, reserve offensive lineman Austin Long’s status has been resolved and not in a good way for the senior.
Long’s career is over at Georgia, derailed by an academic matter, according to a source and multiple other media reports. It’s not a big surprise, as Long had not been practicing with the team this month, and the team already had seemed prepared to move on without him.
Long never started a game and appeared in a total of 15 in the previous two seasons. He was making a push last December for a first-team slot entering the Capital One Bowl, but a hand injury knocked him out. He was the second-team right guard entering this preseason.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Long came to Georgia with pretty good credentials. His father Tim Long played on year in the NFL, and Austin Long was Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 2009 and was rated a four-star recruit by Scout.com. But Long could never quite get things going at Georgia, derailed his first four seasons (including a redshirt) by injuries and finally by academics.