ATHENS - So far, most indications are that Malcolm Mitchell will remain on offense, and the player himself has said he prefers it that way. But it's not quite a settled issue.
"That'd be a question for coach (Mark) Richt, really," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said on Monday. "He's offense right now."
Both Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said they'll defer to what Richt wants. But both coordinators do little to hide the fact they want No. 26 on their side of the ball in a full-time capacity."
"We'll do what's best for the team," Grantham said. "I think what you have is a really talented guy that can play on either side of the ball. He's got ball skills, and he's explosive, so he can make plays on offense."
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Grantham then proceeded to go into a minute-long explanation of what Mitchell could do on the defensive side of the ball.
"The thing that makes him more premier as a defensive guy is he has length, some aggressive play to him," Grantham said. "He can cover bigger type receivers. He can cover those bigger guys on vertical routes and possession routes. But he has ball skills, so when the ball is in the air as a corner, he has just as much right and he's gonna be in position to make plays there too. And he's a willing tackler and he can tackle and he's a big guy. Those things are significant attributes for a corner."
Grantham added that the tug-of-war for Mitchell's services was a "good problem to have."
Mitchell said Friday that he wants there to be more of a definitive plan, whether it means full-time duty on one side of the ball, or splitting it again. This year, Mitchell started the first four games at cornerback before returning to receiver.
"A lot of that had to do with our suspensions defensively in depth," Bobo said. "Hopefully that'll be addressed and we'll have him full time. But if coach says he's gonna play both ways then he's gonna play both ways."
Some more notes from interviews with coaches on Monday:
- Defensive line coach Rodney Garner knows he's losing John Jenkins, a senior. But the impending NFL decision of the other main nose tackle, Kwame Geathers, looms larger, as Garner acknowledged.
"Kwame's decision is very important," Garner said. "I think you look different with a Kwame Geathers than you do without one. I asked him where he is in it. Right now he hasn't made his decision one way or another. I have to imagine he'll spend some time over the holidays with his family, and hopefully he'll come to a conclusion real quick."
- Bobo was also asked about tailback Ken Malcome, who has expressed concern (to outlets other than this one) about being third string.
"Well, if he wants more playing time he's gotta prove it on the practice field," Bobo said. "He's getting opportunities every day. He's got a great chance, kind of like what we talked about with the offensive line, to earn some playing time with this bowl practice. The best guys are gonna play, really regardless of age."
- Bobo wouldn't comment on whether he had any conversations with other schools about head coaching jobs.
"You aspire to run your own program one day," he said. "But I just constantly try to learn and get better. If stuff like that happens it happens, if not I'm just really worried about what I can control, and that's coaching here right now."
- The offensive line is back in tryout mode - I'll have more about this is an extensive story for Tuesday. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that tackles Mark Beard and Austin Long have earned a chance to compete for starting jobs in the bowl game, and they're getting that chance too.
"And really you got Watts Dantzler too. It's opened up, the best five are gonna play, and we'll figure out who's gonna go where," Bobo said. "There's always room for improvement. I do think the line played extremely well this year and got better, but anytime there's competition that's good for that group."
Freshman offensive lineman Greg Pyke has stood out to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
"He's a guy that is a big strong guy, that is very athletic, just doesn't know what to do right now. But we liked what he saw out of him."
- Offensive line coach Will Friend indicated the left tackle spot could be very open: Friend indicated strongly that he thinks Kenarious Gates is better at guard and will move to guard if two better options at tackle emerge. Friend said he also "likes" John Theus at right tackle, where he started every game as a rookie.
- Finally, the situation at inside linebacker: Kirk Olivadotti admitted there's "going to be some huge competition at inside linebacker" - then added that he couldn't talk about much of it, because recruits are involved. But one recruit he could talk about is Ryne Rankin, who enrolled early and has already been practicing.
"It's gonna help him"Sometimes you don't wanna rush into stuff, but he in his case was ready for it," Olivadotti said. "He barely went to high school this year because he was taking college classes. He was excited for it, he was willing to do it, and the timing of it worked out to where he was done with school and there was plenty of time left to practice. This is a significant amount of practice that he can get. He's got some good reps, has been in meetings, and will have a little bit of a clue."
Ramik Wilson, a sophomore who has rotated between the outside and inside spots, also has a chance to be a bit more entrenched at inside linebacker.
"We've gotta see how everything falls," Olivadatti said. "We're not ready to make those decisions yet, we just have to see what's gonna happen."