The Georgia Bulldogs opened spring practice this week with sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Although the team is scheduled to strap on the pads again Saturday, here is a look at the latest news, emerging position battles and key storylines heading into Week 2.
News From Week 1
The biggest news for the Bulldogs this week broke Monday evening as four players were arrested on charges of theft by deception. According to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph, head coach Mark Richt called the actions of Tray Matthews, John Taylor, James DeLoach and Uriah LeMay "foolish." As for determining repercussions for the players' missteps, Richt said, "Sometimes it happens rapidly, and sometimes it doesn't."
When practice actually began Tuesday, a number of key playmakers—namely running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell—were able to participate despite lingering health concerns and prolonged recovery from injuries. Gurley participated fully, while Marshall and Mitchell donned green no-contact jerseys.
Meanwhile, the defensive side of the ball is adjusting to new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Per Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, defensive lineman Toby Johnson is impressed by the speed with which the unit is playing and thinks reducing mistakes could lead to tremendous success:
With all of us running to the ball, our defense was already fast and to have the front four running like that, I think we're going to be the best front four in the country. I said that last year, too, but no buts about it last year. I thought we were the best front four, but we just had some mistakes.
The defensive side of the ball is wide open as far as starting positions are concerned. As newly converted cornerback J.J. Green pointed out to Weiszer, "Nobody knows about playing time. Coach Pruitt says nobody is a starter right now."
Established middle linebacker Ramik Wilson, who logged over 130 tackles last season, echoed that sentiment. "Everybody's up for the position battle," he told Weiszer. "Everybody's going hard. Everybody's got new life."
On the other side of the ball, one rotation has started along the offensive line in both of Georgia's practices. According to Emerson, that group is as follows:
- Left Tackle: John Theus
- Left Guard: Mark Beard
- Center: David Andrews
- Right Guard: Brandon Kublanow
- Right Tackle: Kolton Houston
Beard and Kublanow are new starters.
Storylines for Week 2
For the second week of spring practice, the defensive side of the ball presents the most intrigue. Players seem to be embracing Pruitt's simplified scheme and high expectations. By all accounts, his energy and the open competition for starting spots has every position group enthused and hungry.
At some point point, however, some semblance of a starting lineup needs to take shape. With more practice time and more film to analyze, the picture will become clearer over the coming days.
Offensively, the continued progress of injured stars will remain at the forefront of the conversation. If Gurley, Marshall and Mitchell can remain healthy through the spring, that certainly bodes well for Mike Bobo's offense and (relatively) new quarterback Hutson Mason.