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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Week 1 Wrap Up

So we've reached the end of Week 1, and I'm enjoying my day off by working on stories for our annual preseason college football tab, which you can pick up on newsstands Aug. 22. I'm nothing if not a company man, after all.

Week 1 for me, I think, has probably not been a whole lot different than it has been for the freshmen hoping to impress coaches on Georgia's practice field. I've screwed up a few things, my head is swimming with information, and I'm really just looking forward to getting the season started and finding a good routine. On the upside, I'm sure I'm not nearly as sore as any of the players are.

Having said all that, I wanted to take a quick second to thank all of you who have sent emails or commented on the blog with compliments and encouragement. I can't tell you how much it helps to get through the always difficult adjustment period that comes with a new job when people let you know they appreciate your work.

I'm also very lucky to be covering a team with such loyal, knowledgeable and passionate fans. It makes my job a lot easier, and I'll definitely do my best to keep my work up to your high standards.

Again, thanks.

Now, back to football. I have about 10,000 words transcribed from interviews this week, and while I used most of them for stories or in the blog, that doesn't mean the rest needs to be left on the cutting room floor. So, here's a quick wrap-up of some information that didn't make it into the paper, but may be of some interest to you anyway…

Mark Richt on what he likes about the first week of practice:

"I think every coach loves that first day of practice when the freshmen come in that you've worked so hard to recruit and bring to your school, and they've got these high hopes, and you do, too. Just to watch them and see them move around in shorts in helmets. Interested to see how they handle the contact, how they handle the grind of camp. Just to see who's ready. We know they're talented enough, but who's going to actually be ready."

Richt on his concerns on special teams:

"Not talking about just the kicker and punter and holder and snapper, but all the guys that run down the field and make tackles, try to protect and cover punts, protect field goals. We need those lines and hitters to come through for us, and a lot of those guys are young players, a lot might be true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and a lot of them might be walk-ons, too."

On what teams like Tennessee and Auburn will go through with an inexperienced QB:

"When you don't have experience there, you're just not sure what's going to happen. You see talent, you see a guy you believe is your starter – if he's your starter, he's probably the best one you've got.

"Once Matthew became the story, we knew he had talent and had a decent working knowledge of what to do, but just to experience the Southeastern Conference defenses and the speed of the game compared to what you're used to, and the pressure of it. There's a lot of pressure at that position. You just weren't sure what he'd do. I was hoping that somehow Matthew could be one of the few true freshmen that could play good right off without making a bunch of boneheaded mistakes.

"But he made a bunch of mistakes. He had to learn the hard way, and we all had to live through that as a team. We lost four out of five games while he was spreading the ball around to guys who weren't his teammates. But he's outgrown that and last year he proved he had respect for the ball like he needs to, and even toward the end of that first year, when we stopped turning the ball over, we won."

Richt on teams using spread-type offenses similar to what he ran at Florida State while he's gone to a more traditional set:

"It is funny that way. In some ways it kind of bothers me. Now that the rules are changed, we can't and shouldn't change our personality because we have the tight ends, because we have great runners, because we have the quarterback that is the style of player he is. A lot of teams I think would love to have the personnel that we have to be as balanced as we are in the run and the play-action. We can still spread and throw the ball. We're diverse enough to do that. It's just that we happened to have the personnel now."

Richt on the craziness of Week 1 of camp:

"There's so many things going on at the same time. It's like a big stampede, a big cloud of smoke going on in all directions and then it starts to settle down and you can see more clearly what to do. But right now we're getting as many reps in as we can with as many people as we can."

Richt on recruiting out of state:

"We've had success getting a lot of national exposure and a lot of the kids who have come in from out of state have succeeded. You look at the cover of Sports Illustrated and you have Texas, North Carolina and New Jersey (Stafford, Ellerbe and Moreno). I think kids from out of state realize that you can play at Georgia."

Richt on third-string QB Logan Gray:

"I really like how Logan's progressing as a guy who looks confident with his assignments, a guy who's really beginning to throw the ball with authority, knowing who to throw it to, when to throw it, just helping his fundamentals. If you're on time and in rhythm, you tend to throw on balance better, and he's started to really look good there."

* Just as a side note from me, Gray really has looked sharp in practice. I was actually with a handful of reporters at practice Friday and commenting on just how impressive his throws have been.

Tight end Tripp Chandler on freshman WR A.J. Green:

"He has a ton of potential, a ton of talent, and if he learns this offense, I think he could be a part of our offense this season. With his ability to jump, run routes and his quickness, he just has a ton of talent."

Knowshon Moreno on freshman RB Carlton Thomas:

"I just like how focused he is. He just came in here, he's working hard in the weight room, I could see him doing some things for us in the backfield. He's got a lot of speed so that's going to help us out."

DB CJ Byrd on how the Tennessee game turned around Georgia's season:

"After that game, it was like, we've got to turn things around. It's hard to say exactly what it was, but I think it was just a feeling of, this is Georgia. This is not what happens to us. Georgia defense, that doesn't happen to us, and we knew in our hearts, this wasn't us."

Mo Massaquoi on whether the WRs and DBs get along in practice (this was in the wake of the Steve Smith-Ken Lucas fight at Carolina Panthers camp):

"It's just part of competition. Sometimes things get a little out of hand competing. Sometimes things go a little bit too far. But at the same time, you go anywhere in the country and there's a scuffle here or there, but you know at the end of the day you're still teammates and you still love each other."

Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez on last year's redshirts:

"I think we redshirted some guys who could have played last year on special teams or in some roles. But we feel like any kid who's here, if he's mature enough, he's in shape and doesn't get hurt, not getting injured, there were some guys last year who got injured, they fell behind in knowledge, they didn't play, and it was too far into the season when they finally got it and got back to themselves and felt comfortable in the system."

Martinez on A.J. Harmon's role:

"It's too early. We're throwing these guys everything, our whole package. Not just A.J. but all of them, they're swimming. He's showing up, he's working hard, and time will tell. It might be the fourth ballgame of the year for a young kid. You never know when a light bulb is going to come on."

… And perhaps my favorite exchange of the week, however, came when Asher Allen was asked about the importance of having the freshmen out on the practice field.

"With this sun out here, we need those freshmen," Allen said.

"Because you want to have less reps?" a reporter asked.

"No," Allen said, "because they go get that water."


Anonymous said...

Outstanding. This post alone is better than anything the AJC has done, cumulatively, all year.

ChicagoDawg said...

What a great update David -- excellent! As always, thanks.

Anonymous said...

This post represents the most clutch performance since the great logo brainstorming meeting of the 1974 Tangerine Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work David!

Anonymous said...

Yes, David, I want to echo these other comments - keep up the good work - it is appreciated by the Dawg Nation.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work David! We really appreciate your efforts!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, David. Keep it coming!