It was back to work for the Georgia Bulldogs this week as they continued their spring workouts after taking the previous week off for spring break.
The tempo was faster this week than in previous weeks as the team tackled for the first time. And with this being the first week of practice after spring break, head coach Mark Richt was pleased with the physicality of the team and how they practiced with solid fundamentals.
Richt also had to be pleased with the way some of the newcomers have stepped up. In order for the team to be successful this season, the new guys will have to play at a high level, and it starts with showing up at spring practice.
Here’s the Week 3 spring practice stock report for the Bulldogs.
One of the new players on defense that is making waves is defensive end Sterling Bailey.
Defensive line coach Chris Wilson said that he has been really impressed by the progress Bailey has made during spring practice.
Even defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been impressed with Bailey, as he said the practice on Tuesday was the best Bailey has ever looked.
Garrison Smith and Ray Drew are the projected starters for the defensive ends spots, but Bailey will definitely see a ton on action this fall even if he doesn’t win the starting job.
Another defensive lineman that has stood out at practice is nose tackle Mike Thornton.
Trying to replace John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers is no easy task, but Thornton has the tools to compete in the SEC.
Wilson said after Tuesday’s practice that Thornton has been a pleasant surprise and he’s a guy that can play at the nose or end.
Thornton is in the same situation as Bailey in terms of their spot in the depth chart. The difference is that Thornton has a better chance of seeing more action on the field because he can play both end and nose.
With the Bulldogs having 13 early enrollees taking part in spring practice, that gives the young players a chance to see action on the opening game of the season.
One of those players that has a chance to play right away is Tray Matthews, who is getting every opportunity to be a starter at one of the safety positions.
Grantham threw as much as he could at Matthews this week during practice to see how much he could handle.
Matthews is in the thick of a battle with players like Corey Moore, Blake Sailors and Josh Harvey-Clemons for a starting spot at safety.
If Matthews can continue to make moves during spring practice, there is no reason why he won’t be on the field on August 31 when the Bulldogs take on Clemson.
Linebacker Chase Vasser had everything going for him before the start of the 2012-13 season. But he missed the first two games of the season because of a DUI arrest. Then, when he came back from his suspension, Jordan Jenkins took his spot.
Now, during spring ball, Vasser is not on the field because he is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Because of his absence, James DeLoach is getting looks at outside linebacker to play along with Jenkins.
Vasser has to get on the field and start to make waves if he wants to have a successful senior year.
Running back Keith Marshall returned to practice after recovering from a hamstring injury.
He was limited during practice for precautionary reasons, but his presence was much needed because the Bulldogs don’t have as much running back depth as they would like.
Marshall’s injury is something the Bulldogs have to watch all spring and all summer because he has had the same injury before. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that if the Bulldogs had a game now, Marshall would be ready to go, no questions asked.
Harvey-Clemons has been working at safety and outside linebacker during practice this week, and that has been the plan for him even before spring practice began.
Grantham said that Harvey-Clemons is going to play a lot of spots because doing so gives the Bulldogs the best chance to win.
Harvey-Clemons played safety last season as a reserve. Because he is playing both linebacker and safety, it will give him a better opportunity to see more action this season.
And if he is able to continue to do the things the coaches are telling him to do, he will be in the starting lineup by the start of the regular season.