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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Practice Notes: Patience a Virtue for Samuel

A big preseason earned Richard Samuel the starting tailback job to open the season, but beyond an 80-yard run against Arkansas, his numbers have been declining each week since.

The sophomore tailback tallied 87 yards in his first career start against Oklahoma State and chipped in with several impressive runs against South Carolina a week later. But outside of his 80-yarder, Samuel has averaged just two yards per carry in his last two games, and head coach Mark Richt thinks the solution may be patience.

“I guess he’s similar to a quarterback who can throw it extremely hard,” Richt said. “They’ve got to understand sometimes how to use the touch. He’s a back who has to learn at times to gear it down a little bit until he really sees it, and then hit it.”

Richt said he remains confident that Samuel can develop into a star running back, and he isn’t asking him to change his style – just his approach.

“I think he’s getting a better feel of the vision of the running schemes and where it should go, but it’s hard to slow him down,” Richt said. “He really runs hard, and there’s a lot of value to that if you start knocking people back and breaking tackles. It’s just a different style of running.”

Samuel arrived at Georgia as a 16-year-old last season, and his football pedigree was primarily on the defensive side of the ball rather than tailback. So while Samuel hasn’t demonstrated all the subtleties of being a star running back yet, Richt said the coaches and fans should remain patient, too.

“That’s something they probably learn as they’re growing up if they’re runners all throughout their careers and they just kind of get the hang of it,” Richt said. “You could see where Richard is still in the process because he hasn’t been a running back his whole life. He’s a big, strong, fast guy, very smart and is tough and wants to do it just right, but it just takes reps until they get the feel of it.”


Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin sat out Wednesday’s practice session because of an undisclosed illness, Richt said.

Boykin has started all four games for Georgia this season and has one of the team’s two interceptions. Following Tuesday’s practice, however, Richt said Boykin wasn’t feeling well, and coaches kept him out for precautionary reasons Wednesday.

“He doesn’t feel good, but we think he’ll practice (Thursday),” Richt said. “We think he’ll be fine.”

Georgia’s secondary was already thin thanks to a knee sprain suffered by junior Vance Cuff against Arkansas. Cuff missed last week’s game against Arizona State but returned to a limited practice Wednesday.

“Vance is practicing, and I would say he’s probable also,” Richt said. “I don’t think he had a setback (Wednesday). He doesn’t look full speed when it comes to change of direction yet, but he was out there working with the scouts and I think he finished.”


Freshman receiver Marlon Brown hasn’t seen much action in his first four games at Georgia, but that could change soon.

Richt said he chatted with Brown following Wednesday’s practice to offer some encouragement, and he said he has been pleased with the progress Brown has made since the season began.

“I’m seeing a tremendous improvement in Marlon,” Richt said. “He’s smoothing his game out, and it’s coming. (Tight end) Artie Lynch, same way. He’s a guy who is improving rapidly, and their futures are very, very bright.”

Still, for a highly recruited receiver on a team without much depth at the position, the lack of playing time came as a surprise, Brown said.

“I came in working hard. I knew I needed to lift a little more weights and get a little faster,” Brown said. “Then camp came, and I was like, OK I had a pretty good camp. Then the season started, and I wasn’t playing. I got down a little bit, but after a while I was like, ‘Forget it,’ and I just decided I’d go out and grind every day at practice.”

Brown said the biggest hurdle now is simply gaining some confidence in his ability to understand the offense and make plays when called upon. He said that was driven home by some advice from a couple of his teammates.

“I talked to Mike (Moore) and A.J. (Green) about it, and they said to keep grinding,” Brown said. “A.J. said just to have confidence in yourself out there on the field.”


Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is back to throwing again after missing nearly two weeks with triceps tendonitis.

Murray said he began short tosses last week, progressing slowly each day.

“I started about 10 yards, the next day 20 yards, 30 yards,” Murray said. “I pretty much did most of practice (Wednesday). It’s feeling pretty good. No pain, no soreness, nothing.”

Still, the time off was tough, Murray said. The freshman was hoping to avoid a redshirt and earn some playing time as the season progressed, but with two weeks on the sidelines, he admits hurt his chances.

“It was kind of a bummer because I missed the whole month so I didn’t get to continue progressing,” Murray said. “I kind of took a little step back, but now I’ve just got to get out there and keep doing my thing.”


With the weather cooling and No. 4 LSU on the horizon, Richt said Wednesday's practice was among the best of the year for Georgia.

"It was probably the best Wednesday we've had all year. I say that because of the effort, but also they just had a lot of enthusiasm out there. They seemed to enjoy it for a change. Instead of us feeling like we're riding herd, they just got into it and competed and seemed to really enjoy, so it was maybe more fun today. You can actually get your work done and enjoy it, and maybe they found that out today."


Vandy Dan said...

Thanks for the great detail regarding the Georgia team.

Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville next weekend.

Dan Ryan

Yodi said...

Caleb King is a much much much more natural pure running back than Samuel. Richard is strong, physical and fast, but that doesn't do you much good when all you pretty much do is get the ball and run in a straight line no matter what is in front of you.