ATHENS - Georgia and other college football programs will enter the summer under new NCAA rules governing offseason workouts. And the Bulldogs are still feeling their way through it.
The NCAA has changed its rules to allow each player to spend eight hours a week over eight summer weeks interacting with the coaching staff. That includes film work, weight lifting and conditioning work. It does not include football drills. In other words, it's mostly individual work, and not meant to give the offense a chance to run full-scale practices.
Georgia coaches and its training staff were due to meet last Friday to go over the offseason plan and account for the rule changes.
"It's probably gonna have to be on a little bit of an individual basis," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
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The reason for that is that film work may benefit players at one position more than another. And there will also be players who need more time in the weight room than others. And some players need the film work, in order to learn formations and such.
"It's going to be an advantage that we've gotta use, that everybody's gonna use," Bobo said.
"I think that'll help," head coach Mark Richt said. "But in some ways it was nice when the players didn't have to do it. It wasn't the coaches mandating it."
As for the football-only workouts, players can still organize those themselves. Aaron Murray became famous for rounding up the other quarterbacks and receivers for such workouts.
He's gone now, but Richt is hoping that leaders of each position group take care of offseason workouts: Hutson Mason with the quarterbacks, David Andrews with the offensive line, and so on.
"The QB kinda handles the skill guys and the center kinda handles the offensive line," Richt said. "Then you need some linebackers to step up, and somebody to step up, somebody on the perimeter. At least one guy in each segment to kind of take up the mantle. I'm not 100 percent sure who's gonna jump in and fill those roles."
Drew 'will be a factor'
Ray Drew went from a breakout junior season - finishing tied for second on the team with six sacks - to being relegated to a backup role for most of the spring. But defensive line coach Tracy Rocker still sounds bullish on Drew's potential, and said the spring shouldn't be considered a step back for Drew.
"No, I just think he's a little beat up," Rocker said. "I think Ray's gonna be fine. Ray is gonna peak at the right time for us. So I don't worry. Ray has played in a lot of games for us, so I'm expecting him ... He will be a factor for us in the fall."
Mike Thornton, the rising senior, has consistently earned the most praise from Rocker this spring, and that was the case in the wake of the G-Day game. Rocker also liked the progress from James DeLoach and Josh Dawson, the two rising juniors who moved to end from outside linebacker before spring.
"Right now we're just trying to see where guys fit in," Rocker said. "When we started this thing off we just gave everyone a clean slate. So I just think we're trying to see: Where does this guy fit, where does this guy git?"
Patience on Terry
Practicing on defense this spring, Tramel Terry didn't manage to dent the first-team, despite the wide-open status of the secondary. It didn't help that Terry, coming off knee surgery in December of 2012, had to navigate his health and the switch from receiver to safety.
Either way, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt thinks people shouldn't expect too much too soon for Terry, who was a four-star recruit and Mr. Football in South Carolina in 2012.
"You guys probably cause Tramel a lot of grief, because of all the expectations that everybody puts on him," Pruitt said.
(As an aside, Pruitt must have meant the media in general, or specifically those who cover media members, because beat writers very rarely cover recruiting and just begin covering them when they get to Georgia. But anyway ...)
"Tramel was a highly-ranked player coming out of high school," Pruitt went on. "He went to play offense, he tore his knee up, he's playing defense. You know, Tramel is learning a new position, and he's worked hard doing it. And as long as he continues to do that (he'll be fine). I've talked to him daily about don't create unrealistic expectations. Just go out there and try to improve yourself every day."
Terry isn't the first heralded recruit to have a slow start to his career. Drew, a five-star recruit out of high school, is another example.
"It's unfair to the kids, but that's the way society is now," Pruitt said. "You get these kids that everybody ranks them however everybody wants to rank them. And most coaching staffs don't even look at that, they go based off of what they think. So when they come in, they have this about them whether they're a two-star or a five-star, which really doesn't matter. But for the fan base it creates unrealistic expectations for the kids, who therefore put pressure on themselves. And they shouldn't. I mean it's college, they should enjoy it. And it'll work itself out."
Pointing thumbs on special teams
Mike Ekeler and John Lilly are the co-special teams coordinators now, but most every assistant coach is still involved during drills. Even Pruitt is "coaching his butt off" during special teams drills, as Ekeler put it.
But as the coordinator, is Ekeler okay with being blamed solely when his units don't perform?
"Heck yeah," he said, smiling. "Here's my motto - in coaching linebackers, coaching special teams - when things go right, it's all on the players. Anything happens (badly), you don't point a finger, you point a thumb."
Ekeler said he was able to get "a lot" done on special teams during the spring. Mostly it was what Ekeler called "creating a profile" on each player likely to be on special teams, including their strengths and how they'd fit into each unit.
"The schematics and all that, we'll get that in (during) fall camp," Ekeler said. "We know the guys right now who we're targeting to be on those teams, and what they can do, and what their strengths are, and we're gonna have a lot of freshmen coming in that are gonna be added to that mix."
The F position
Here's a bit more detail on the new position that Quayvon Hicks is slated to be playing this fall. Richt said the team has what it calls an F position, which is a fullback/tight end in a three-receiver set.
"A lot of times that F will run the same routes sometimes out of the fullback position, and sometimes from a tight end position, or a tight end alignment. So there's a little bit of carryover over there. So that probably helped him some," Richt said. "But there was a lot to learn, and considering he just started doing it I thought he did pretty good."
Hicks, a rising junior, played fullback his first two seasons, then spent the spring with the tight ends in preparation for an H-back role.
Putting up the Dukes
Ekeler has never seen incoming freshman Detric Dukes play in person. But he has seen the inside linebacker on film, and met with him in person a coouple times.
"He's a physical young man and loves the game," Ekeler said. "He's got a great attitude, and a toughness about him, which will be good for us, and we'll see. We'll see how he does. As a true freshman there's a lot to learn, and lot of adjustment. But he'll have his opportunity."
It appears that the only major injury to come out of the G-Day game was to walk-on offensive lineman Eddie McQuillen, who tore his ACL. McQuillen, who will be a redshirt junior this year, has the distinction of being the tallest player on the team, at 6-foot-8.