As another week of fall camp winds down, here's all the latest from the Georgia Bulldogs.
Merritt Hall's Career Ends
Last week, it became evident that Georgia's ongoing battle with the injury bug was far from over. This week, that affliction vested itself in a medical disqualification for starting fullback Merritt Hall. According to GeorgiaDogs.com, Hall suffered multiple concussions both in high school and in college, but the most recent (and final) injury occurred last week.
#UGA makes it official: "Junior fullback Merritt Hall medically disqualified by the UGA sports medicine staff for recurrent concussions."— AJC UGA (@ChipTowersAJC) August 14, 2014
Hall's career ended all too quickly. He arrived in Athens, Georgia, as a walk-on, and after redshirting in 2011, he earned a scholarship and six starts in 12 game appearances in 2012. Last season, he started one game and appeared in all 13 contests for the Bulldogs.
Statistics and participation, however, do not tell the whole story for Hall. A fierce competitor, Hall was a tenacious lead blocker and pivotal in Georgia's success in the running game over the past two seasons.
The premature conclusion of Hall's career makes the fullback position one of concern. Currently, Taylor Maxey (a walk-on and a senior) and freshman Detric Bing-Dukes (who last week was a linebacker) are contending for the starting fullback spot. This unexpected change in the depth chart was called "surreal" by Maxey (per Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald) but has many fans uneasy.
Richt says Detric Bing-Dukes has looked good at fullback so far. #UGA— Bulldawg Illustrated (@BD_illustrated) August 14, 2014
Obviously, the urgency resulting from Hall's medical disqualification is heightened given Quayvon Hicks' new role as a tight end and H-back. Hicks' move has proved invaluable, as Georgia has struggled to keep tight end Jay Rome healthy and there is a general absence of experience at the position.
While the trickle-down effect of lacking depth may seem insurmountable, don't rule out some offensive variation from coordinator Mike Bobo. If Hicks is able to line up as a true hybrid athlete in the backfield, new wrinkles can be rolled out. This may also provide for less traditional backfields and the use of two true running backs in the backfield at the same time.
Meanwhile, the defensive secondary remains a bit of a mystery as far as personnel is concerned. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is giving everyone opportunities, but nothing is yet settled. Head coach Mark Richt told Seth Emerson of Macon's Telegraph, "We've got so many working parts there. Jeremy's really put just about everybody out there."
In the mix for major playing time:
- Damian Swann: projected starter at cornerback
- Rico Johnson: cornerback
- Devin Bowman: cornerback
- Shattle Fenteng: cornerback and star position
- J.J. Green: star position
- Malkom Parrish: star position
- Quincy Mauger: safety and star position
- Dominick Sanders: safety
- Aaron Davis: safety
- Corey Moore: safety
At this juncture, it's hard to tell if these players are struggling to differentiate themselves because the talent pool is so deep or if they're failing to execute properly.
On a lighter note, Georgia took their annual trip to the Ramsey Center for a day of high-diving on Tuesday.
I teased Lorenzo Carter about being scared of the water. He wasn't. He just figured out the best way to float. pic.twitter.com/gNnWpUCGW1— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) August 14, 2014
Week 3 Storylines
Obviously, tracking the development of Georgia's new fullback rotation will be worth keeping an eye on. Bobo has typically relied heavily on a blocking back, so it would be premature to think that role will be diminished greatly—particularly if either Maxey or Bing-Dukes can demonstrate mastery of the position.
Additionally, the offensive line rotation should soon be cemented. Currently, several players are continuing to shuffle.
On the defensive side of the ball, expect to see a few more starters or "leaders" emerge in the secondary. That may be not be vocalized by Pruitt, but rep distribution should soon begin to favor the projected starters.
Lastly, Georgia is holding a special teams scrimmage on Saturday night. This should be a nice opportunity for athletes like freshman Isaiah McKenzie to show what they can do in live situations.