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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Practice Notes (12/30)

In the first week of the season, Georgia's coaches didn't have an idea of how the Bulldogs' return game might shape up. Now, with just one game remaining before the season ends, things aren't much clearer.

"By committee as usual," part-time punt returner Prince Miller said of Georgia's plan for the return game in the Capital One Bowl. "We have a lot of guys who can handle the job, and (Coach Jon Fabris) is going to put certain guys in in certain situations, and we'll just go from there."

Miller is one of nearly a half-dozen Bulldogs to return punts this season, including last year's leading kick returner, Asher Allen. Miller had a touchdown on a return against Alabama, but several poor plays down the stretch meant more chances for Logan Gray.

Allen hasn't returned a punt since Georgia's third game of the season, but said he would have liked to have seen more action. Allen played with a broken hand, however, in Georgia's final five games.

It's something I really love to do," Allen said. "I've done it since I've been here, I did it all through high school. But it was obviously a decision that the coaches made."

The kick return game was nearly as turbulent this season without Allen carrying the load. Ramarcus Brown was the primary kick returner early, but freshman Richard Samuel appeared to grab a stranglehold on the job down the stretch, despite making a few bad decisions and a key turnover in Georgia's final three games.

Brown and Samuel haven't been the biggest problem, however, according to coach Tony Ball.

"I've been really disappointed in our productivity but it's not so much who we've had back there, we've just had so many injuries and have had to put guys in there that hadn't received a lot of reps," Ball said. "It's hard to go back during the season and rep and get somebody ready fundamentally to be effective. I think that's hurt us more than anything."

-- Despite several comments to the contrary from Georgia players and coaches, the rumors of assistant coach Rodney Garner heading to Auburn continue to persist.

Garner interviewed for the head-coaching job with the Tigers before Gene Chizik was hired but has not said he is interested in an assistant position, and Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Auburn had not contacted the him about interviewing Garner.

"I don't think he's talking to Auburn at all, I really don't," Richt said.

-- While Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford haven't made any final decision on their potential futures in the NFL, one thing remains a certainty: Georgia's big four offensive stars Moreno, Stafford, A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi won't play together again for the Bulldogs after Thursday's Capital One Bowl.

That's a sobering thought for Richt, but he said it's been impossible not to enjoy the time the foursome has had together in Athens.

"They've been great," Richt said. "If you can have that kind of production every year, you're going to win a bunch of games. You're going to enjoy coaching them, too. And it's fun for the fans to run the ball and throw and catch the way that they have."

-- With injuries in the dozens at any given time this season, practice hasn't been nearly as grueling as he would like because he simply didn't have enough healthy players on the practice field.

Looking back, Richt said, he regrets taking it easy on his team at times, going back to fall camp.

"Trend of toning down practice, it started in two-a-days, it started in camp," Richt said. "In our second of the three scrimmages, when I decided to go thud (instead of full tackle) because of all the injuries, that's just not how we practice here, and I don't think it was good for us."


your biggest fan said...

David, I hope you stop your trend of not responding to questions on your blog from fans (and your readers btw).

Here's a test: what can you tell us about a supposed brawl that happened at practice over the weekend that eventually involved half of the team?

Thanks - I'll be checking back for your resonse. Hopefully you'll be courteous enough to answer this time.

Bernie said...

More great info DH. The return game and special teams as a whole have been disappointing this year. Hopefully Thursday will be different.

By the way, from my limited research, we're the away team.

And "your biggest fan", if he doesn't respond you can always check the transcript from today's online chat. It was one of the topics.

David Hale said...

Man, if you're my biggest fan, I hate to see what people who don't like me have to say!

I try to answer any comment and question that requires a response, but they do occasionally slip past. Besides, you should have joined the chat today! Bernie and I were lonely.

Anyway, I didn't publish any of this because it was secondhand info, but here's what I've been told: There was a mild skirmish between the offense and defense on Sunday. No punches thrown, and the coaches were actually encouraged by the intensity of the competition rather than angry about the fight. These types of things happen more frequently than you might think but rarely get out of hand, and I'm told this wasn't too big a deal.