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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who's No. 1?

With so many injuries, getting any one unit working together has been a nearly impossible task so far this spring, but that's exactly what head coach Mark Richt would like to see happen.

After a year in which assignment football was a goal rarely met in the latter parts of the season, Richt said it will be crucial for the top of the depth chart to come together as a unit before the spring comes to an end next week.

"What we're going to try to do now, defensively especially, is really focus on trying to get that No. 1 unit in tact and just playing the way a Georgia defense is supposed to play," Richt said.

Of course, finding those No. 1s hasn't been a simple task. At defensive end, Georgia's depth chart doesn't go beyond the top two players, as injuries have sidelined a half-dozen more. A few other key players, including presumed starting defensive tackle Jeff Owens, are still rehabbing from injuries as well, which complicates the process of establishing continuity on that side of the ball.

"You're trying to find some continuity and some consistency," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "We say that, but there's still some young players in there who are just learning on the run. Because we have so many guys out, it's kind of hard to get the second group going. You're just changing guys up here and there and be as productive as you can."

Martinez said only a handful of players on the defense -- Rennie Curran, Geno Atkins, Prince Miller -- have secured their roles as starters, and many of the other jobs remain too close to call.

The high number of injuries have stifled the process of identifying starters, but Richt still wants to see progress. He expects the youngsters to be learning on the fly, but establishing some unity among the top performers on the field remains job No. 1 during the final six practices of the spring.

"We know the second unit is going to have a lot of guys that aren't used to playing certain positions," Richt said. "So the main concentration will be getting the No. 1 unit to play as a unit, and the rest of them to just get better individually as much as they can."

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