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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Football Notes (2/19)

The always magnanimous Michael Carvell suggested to me yesterday that these long posts would be better if I bolded the names of players, etc. to make them stand out. Since his post about my Damon Evans interview currently has 219 comments, and my post currently has six, I'm going to take his advice. Thanks, Mike!

-- The cast on his wrist could have been looked at as a nice ticket out of the most intense of offseason workouts for Georgia tailback Richard Samuel. The freshman will miss spring practice after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his wrist, and while he hasn't missed much time in the gym, his workouts have been limited.

The trend will continue this spring when, instead of donning full pads and taking some big hits, Samuel will be limited to core workouts and cardiovascular exercise while his wrist heals.

"It's going to be real difficult because I'm a guy that likes to be out there, and I like to participate," Samuel said. "Being injured, you don't have to go through all that stuff and it's kind of good sometimes, but I don't like that. I like being a part of things and going through whatever I have to go through."

When spring practices begin next month, both Samuel and fellow freshman Dontavius Jackson will be on the sidelines watching Caleb King and Carlton Thomas split reps. The time off is particularly frustrating for Samuel, who is in the mix to take over for Knowshon Moreno as the team's starting running back.

"It really set me back," Samuel said. "I'm not able to work out as much as I wanted to. I'm not able to participate in mat drills like I wanted to. It really dampened how I was ready to get into things and start participating to get into the battle for that running back position."

Despite missing some key practice time this spring, Samuel expects to be ready to go this fall, and he hopes he can use the summer vacation to make up for lost time.

"I'm going to take full advantage of the summer workouts," Samuel said. "That month of May when we have off, I'm going to take that and study the playbook and get in the weight room every day."

-- During Georgia's signing day festivities two weeks ago, head coach Mark Richt said he would embrace an opportunity to open the season on a Thursday night against Oklahoma State, particularly with a tough matchup against South Carolina looming the next week. An extra few days to prepare is always appreciated, after all.

While Richt may be all for playing a midweek matchup, Georgia athletics director Damon Evans wasn't as enthused.

"We won't play Thursday night football," Evans said. "That's our stance right now, and I've talked to Mark about that. That just goes against the philosophy of this institution."

Evans said that the Thursday games obstruct academics for players and students, even for away games such as this year's Georgia opener, citing the numerous students who would likely travel for the game.

"This has been a philosophy of ours for a long time in which we had said even in the negotiations of the television contracts that we would not play Thursday night football," Evans said. "It was done (that way) before I was here, and that's the philosophy that I have. I respect what Mark's opinion is, but at the end of the day, Thursday night football is not in the cards for the University of Georgia."

As it turned out, not only did Georgia miss out on the Thursday festivities, but the Gamecocks landed the date and will have the extra three days to get ready for their conference opener against the Bulldogs.

-- Tight end Aron White was hardly an offensive superstar last year, but when he managed to work his way onto the field, he usually made good things happen.

The redshirt freshman caught just three passes all year, but two went for touchdowns including Georgia's only touchdown against Florida and third was a 48-yard bomb. While his impact may have been minimal in the big picture, White said the success was a big boost to his confidence.

"It really served as a motivator for me making those couple of plays," he said. "I kind of proved to myself that I can get out here and play with these guys and not just get in and play a couple snaps in two tights or something like that."

The big knock on White to date has been his size. At a lean 230 pounds, he hardly fits the bill of the prototypical tight end. As a pass catcher, he's more than capable, but his challenge has been getting strong enough to work as a blocker, too.

With that in mind, White said he hopes to add as much as 10 pounds this offseason in order to play a bigger role with the offense in 2009. What he won't do, however, is add weight just for the sake of getting bigger.

"I think what I'm really trying to do is gain weight but gain it in the right way," White said. "I don't want to come out and supplement six times a day and just life weights and not run and come out there and be sloppy and slow but able to move a guy off the ball."

-- He may still not have a secure job as a starter on defense, but there aren't many Bulldogs fans who aren't aware of linebacker Darryl Gamble's talents.

In limited duty the past two years, Gamble has been responsible for some of Georgia's biggest defensive plays a forced fumble against Vanderbilt that helped the Bulldogs to a comeback win in 2007, and two interception returns for touchdowns against LSU a year ago.

The way Gamble sees it, however, that's just the problem. While he's managed some impressive highlights, he hasn't solidified a career.

"That's what I want to do, just start and be a leader out there and make more plays," Gamble said. "I don't want to just be known for certain situations like freshman year, it was Vanderbilt. That's all I was remembered for. Last year, LSU. I just want to be consistent, all around."

Gamble may be selling his 2008 season a bit short. He finished third on the team in tackles and started six games, including four at middle linebacker. He missed Georgia's bowl game with a broken leg, however, but expects to be 100 percent for spring practice and hopes to nail down that elusive starting gig at middle linebacker in the fall.

"That's where I started at and know the most about, so I guess that's where I'm going to be until somebody moves me," Gamble said. "But it's the same as last year wherever I'm needed, that's where I'll be at."

-- Jeff Owens has been a man on a mission in the Georgia locker room this offseason. Sure, he's pushing his teammates in workouts, but his top priority has been pestering them for material for his new blog.

"He's real excited about it," said fellow defensive tackle Geno Atkins. "He's been asking everybody to do a little questionnaire for him."

As one of Owens' closest friends on the team, Atkins figured to be an early target for the burgeoning author, but so far, no requests have come, he said.

"He hasn't hit me up yet," Atkins said. "He's saving the best for last."


Carter said...


You got a mention on SI today.

(Sorry, I don't know htmls).

David Hale said...

Hey, I'm really moving up in the world! I always assumed if I made it onto SI or ESPN, it would be for drunkenly running onto the field during a baseball game with no pants on. I guess this is better.

Anonymous said...

I wish Damon would realize that not only would a Thursday night match-up with OkSt given us more time to prepare for SCar but it would also made our game the showcase game and EVERYONE would have been watching this game. Unprecedented exposure for the University...MONEY. It WOULD NOT impact academics like he thinks it would. That is and has been the cop out of our so called leadership at UGA. Wake up Damon.

Bryan Carver Dawg97 said...


I understand "keeping up with the Joneses" and all, but you really don't want the circus that is the AJC commenters. The first 5 are fine and then it simply deteriorates into "you suck" "no you suck"

David Hale said...

That's a great point Bryan, and you're totally right. I was really just teasing Mike Carvell, but I should point out that I love the comments I get here and they are almost always thoughtful and intelligent rather than the "you suck" variety that take up so much of the rest of the blogs and message boards. Anyway, a great point... thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Damon. What is the "philosophy of this institution?" Seems to me that whatever it is the football program foots the bill for it. Eh?

the anonymous suckup said...


Do you think you would ever do a detailed story about the mat drills? I've seen fairly broad descriptions of them in print before, but no real detail.

Are they some sort of UGA trade secret? I assume members of the press aren't allowed to witness them, or I probably would have already seen lots of detailed stories about them.

jferg said...

I agree with Bryan and Anon Suckup...on both counts.

I think the best use of Richard Samuel's time off would be running through that contraption that I had to run through in high school...the metal cage-like aparatus that makes you run no higher that 4 feet off the ground...anyone else know what I'm talking about? If RS can learn to use his frame as leverage, he'll be phenomenal. With his size, if he leaned forward and was lower, he would embarass defenders. But, running upright like he did last year, will keep him on the "should've been awesome" list....because "this ain't highschool" and SEC defenders will hurt you running like that. Caleb King making any noise? With the obvious opportunity he has at hand, is he stepping up, working much harder than everyone else in mat drills, and "owning" the RB position? Or is he still moping about last year and "hoping" to get better and more playing time?

David Hale said...

Suckup: Good question about mat drills... I highly doubt that we'll be allowed to watch them, but I have actually been trying to get some time with CVH to discuss the offseason workouts, and I'll see what I can do about making that into a bigger "What are these mat drills all about" type of story.

JFerg: I haven't mentioned a lot about Caleb because I am actually working on a bigger story on him for Scout's magazine, but yes, he's excited about the opportunity he has. I've said this for a while, but I don't think he was ever lazy or disinterested in football, I just think he lacked a lot of confidence, which seems odd for a highly recruited kid like him until you get to know him. Here's what he had to say about his season last year:

“Coach Ball was just doing his job. If I was a coach and a player wasn’t performing at the ability I thought he could, I would have sat him down, too, until he got his head straight. I don’t fault him or anything. That’s when I took it on myself to work harder. I started studying the playbook more, going in the weight room more, just trying to get better.”

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with dontavius jackson ("watching from the sidelines with RS)?

RidgeDawg said...

I agree that you don't necessarily want the comment zoo that the AJC articles have but I agree with Michael's suggestion about bolding the names. It does make the post a little more scannable especially if you're mainly concerned with certain players or coaches.

Bold or no bold though it remains one of the best sports reads on teh internets, which are vast :)


David Hale said...

Jackson suffered a knee injury late last season and is still recovering. He's expected to participate late in the spring, but he won't be 100 percent.