Georgia Football: Mark Richt's 5 Biggest Concerns Post Spring Practice
It’s been a few days since the Georgia Bulldogs took part in their annual spring game and they were able to get a lot of things accomplished.
The offense looked like it was in midseason form and the defense looked like a unit that could be a lot better than many critics expected.
However, head coach Mark Richt has to be concerned with a few things moving forward when it comes to personnel and depth.
This is normal because every coach in the country goes through this after spring practice. But the Bulldogs are looking to win the SEC and national title, so the concerns have to be fixed during summer practices, if not sooner.
Here are Richt’s five biggest concerns post spring practice.
No. 5: Offensive Line
The foundation—the offensive line—was the reason the Bulldogs were so successful last season.
But that foundation was missing this spring because of the injuries to John Theus as well as Chris Burnette.
This led to the playing a game of musical chairs with the offensive line all spring.
Mark Beard has worked with the first team, Xzavier Ward has also been getting looks at both tackle positions and Theus, who made his spring debut days before the G-Day game, was playing at left tackle instead of his position last year, which was right tackle.
Once Burnette gets back from his injury, there’s a chance the offensive line will look like what it was last year. But the stability of the offensive line has to be something that has to concern Richt, especially with the Bulldogs coming off one of their best offensive seasons in school history.
No. 4: Depth at Running Back
Because of the offensive line, the running game led by Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall was able to perform at a high level last season.
But who will be guy that can steps up if one of them goes down?
This spring early enrollee J.J Green got some looks at running back and he had eight carries for 27 yards.
Kyle Karempelis led all rushers with 89 yards on 13 carries in the G-Day game, but he has seen very little playing time the last two seasons.
Brandon Harton is a candidate to be the No. 3 back, but he barely took part in spring drills because of an injury and could get lost in the shuffle once A.J. Turman arrives on campus.
So it looks like two true sophomores (Gurley and Marshall) and a freshman (Turman) will be the top three tailbacks on the UGA roster. All three are talented, but Richt would love to have Ken Malcome still on the roster for much-needed depth.
No. 3: Health of the Wide Receivers
There is no question the receivers for the Bulldogs are talented. But they need to stay healthy.
Michael Bennett suffered an ACL injury midway through last season, but he returned to practice on Tuesday according to georgiadogs.com.
Malcolm Mitchell recently had arthroscopic knee surgery, and there’s a chance he will miss the season opener against Clemson.
The Bulldogs do have a healthy Chris Conley, Justin Scott-Wesley and Jonathan Rumph who is an early enrollee junior college transfer. All three players had solid performances in the G-Day game.
The receiver corps is deep, but Bennett and Mitchell need to be healthy when the season begins because those two will set the tone in the passing game.
No. 2: Size at Nose Tackle
It’s very difficult for Richt to replace John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. But Mike Thornton is looking to take on that challenge and has responded well during spring practice.
The only concern is Thornton’s size because he weighs a shade less than 300 pounds while Jenkins and Geathers were over 350 pounds.
Thornton is aggressive at the point of attack, but the size of a nose tackle is essential in a 3-4 defense.
The coaches are hoping that Thornton can eat up a lot of space so the linebackers can make plays in the run game, which was a problem for the Bulldogs last year.
No. 1: Depth at Secondary
The top concern for the Richt has to be the secondary, not because of the talent, but because of the depth.
Cornerback Damian Swann is the only defensive back that has a significant amount of game experience as he became the starter early last year.
Other than that it’s guys like Connor Norman and Corey Moore who have seen game action and it’s very limited game action.
Moore is expected to start at strong safety, Sheldon Dawson is slated to start at the other cornerback spot and either Tray Matthews of Norman will start at free safety while Josh Harvey-Clemons will start at the “star” position which is the nickel cornerback when the Bulldogs play in the nickel formation.
All are talented, but it will take some time for them to gel and play as one, which will have to happen sooner than later in order for the Bulldogs to survive the early part of their 2013 schedule.