Georgia Football: Mark Richt's 5 Biggest Worries Headed into Spring Practice
Spring practice is underway for the Georgia Bulldogs, and just like the last two seasons, the expectations for the 2013 squad is as high as it gets.
Head coach Mark Richt knows that the offense will be very good which will help the Bulldogs be a worthy opponent in every ball game. Richt also knows that the defense is young, but will be just as talented as it was in 2011.
However, there are a few things that Richt has to be concerned about. He, along with the rest of his coaching staff, will have to make sure that they can eliminate those concerns before the season begins because if they want to make a run at the national title, they have to be a much better team than they were last year.
Here are Richt’s five biggest worries heading into spring practice.
Overall, the special teams were better last year than they were in 2011.
However, kicker Marshall Morgan was inconsistent his rookie season, missing 10 kicks in all, including four extra points.
Punter Colin Barber did not have a strong season himself as the Bulldogs finished 11th in the SEC in punting last season.
Some slack has to be given because both Morgan and Barber were freshmen. But if both players don’t show improvement, the special teams for the Bulldogs will be in a world of trouble this season.
Running Back Depth
The one thing Richt does not want to have is injuries. The other thing that Richt does not want to have is injuries to key players, and that is what happened to Keith Marshall as he pulled his hamstring while running track.
Because of Ken Malcome transferring to Southern Illinois, Todd Gurley and Brandon Harton will take the majority of snaps this spring.
The Bulldogs did sign A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas last month, but they don’t report to Athens until June. So the coaching staff has to find out what other guys can step up just in case something happens to Gurley or Harton.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said they will try freshman J.J. Green at running back because he’s a guy who can be a change-of-pace back for the Bulldogs just like Marshall.
Offensive Line Depth
The running back position is not the only position that has to worry about injuries.
The Bulldogs offensive line has its share of injuries also as John Theus and Chris Burnette are out with offseason surgeries.
That means the starting offensive lineman for the Bulldogs will be different this spring as Austin Long will play right guard and Mark Beard will play left tackle. This also means that Kenarious Gates will move from left tackle to right tackle.
For the offense to be efficient, there has to be consistency on the offensive line. Theus and Burnette should be back before the start of the regular season, but Richt hopes injuries to the offensive line is not a continuing trend this year.
Rebuilding the Defense
One of the biggest tasks the coaches have to face this spring is rebuilding the defense.
The Bulldogs have to replace starters at both safeties spots, cornerback, inside and outside linebacker, defensive end and nose guard.
The talent is there to replace the starters from last year. Newcomer Jonathan Taylor is ready to be the starting noseguard while Ray Drew, Corey Moore and Devin Bowman are ready to be the starters at defensive end, safety and cornerback, respectively.
But it’s a matter of getting these players together and being on the same page consistently. If that does not happen in the spring, it could be a very long season for the Bulldogs.
The Newcomers Falling Behind
The Bulldogs have 13 signees who are taking part in spring practice which is the most in school history.
There will be a few players who will be able to catch on to the playbook quick, but then there will be the rest who will not have a clue as to what to do, and that can be a little worrisome for Mark Richt.
With that many players new to the system, there will have to be more teaching from the coaches.
Having these 13 players taking part in spring practice will help the players once the summer arrives, but at the same time, Richt does not want these players to fall behind so quickly and to the point that they will not be able to catch up.