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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Practice Notes: Aggies Present Big Challenge to Dawgs' D

Georgia has faced plenty of fast-paced offenses this season, but Texas A&M will present a challenge unlike any the Bulldogs have battled before.

The Aggies run an up-tempo style that often yields 80 or more plays a game, keeping defenses on their toes and creating plenty of chaos on the field.

“It’s quicker than anyone we’ve seen,” Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran said. “If you watch the film, they catch a lot of teams off guard, a lot of defenses aren’t ready.”

Oklahoma State and Auburn both ran quick-paced offenses as well, with the Tigers’ attack being a similar style of no-huddle to Texas A&M, but Georgia head coach Mark Richt said that the Aggies take things to an even higher level.

“They want as many plays as they can possibly get,” Richt said. “They are fast. That’s their goal. More plays, more yards, more points. That’s the way they see it.”

The results have been positive for Texas A&M, which ranks first in the Big 12 in total offense and fifth nationally, totaling 465 yards per game on average.

What makes the Aggies even tougher to defend is that they rarely substitute players, which prevents the defense from adjusting personnel, too, but A&M still manages to run multiple formations on offense.

“They go fast without changing any personnel,” Richt said. “And what they do with the same personnel group is run multiple formations. Multiple formations and speed between plays is creating problems for everybody they’ve played.”

The battle plan defensively is the same as what Georgia used against Auburn – plenty of scout team work in practice against the hurry-up and close attention to film study to quickly recognize keys.

But more than the defensive adjustments, Richt said the best plan for stopping the Aggies’ high-flying attack is to keep it on the sideline.

“The longer we can hold the ball,” Richt said, “the better we’ll be.”


With a makeshift defensive coaching staff for the bowl game, Richt said he wasn’t sure which of Georgia’s two graduate assistants – Todd Hartley or Mitch Doolittle – would coach from the field and which would head to the press box yet, but on the offensive side of the ball, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo remains comfortable on the sideline.

Bobo had coached from the press box virtually his entire career, but against Vanderbilt this season, he moved to the field and the result has been a dramatically improved offensive attack.

“We’ve improved in particular in the run game and possibly the overall intensity level of the team,” Richt said. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm on the ground, and it hasn’t seemed to bother him to make the calls he likes to make, so I would think he’d keep doing it.”


Georgia defensive end Montez Robinson will not travel with the Bulldogs to the bowl game in Shreveport, La. and remains on indefinite suspension, but Richt said he’s moving closer to a decision on the freshman’s future.

“We’re working on that decision is the best we can say,” Richt said.

Richt refused to put a definitive timetable on the decision, but he said the choice of whether to reinstate Robinson or dismiss him from the team has been a particularly difficult one.

Robinson spent much of his life in foster care and group homes and has shouldered a large portion of the responsibility for caring for his younger siblings. Richt said he remains torn in trying to balance the discipline necessary after Robinson was charged with assault earlier this month and the desire to keep him in a stable environment.

“It’ll be a tough decision, I can tell you,” Richt said.


Updating several key bumps and bruises as the Bulldogs prepare for the bowl game...

Reshad Jones has been in a green non-contact jersey for the past few practices. “He’s got more of a tendonitis issue in his knee, but nothing real serious," Richt said. He added that there may be some other nagging injuries but did not expect Jones to miss the bowl game.

A.J. Green has remained in Green but said he is completely healthy. Richt said the team remains cautious for now. “He’s doing everything, but we’re trying to minimize any contact right now," Richt said. "The day after Christmas, when we’re in pads that day, he probably won’t be in green and we’ll let him get some contact.”

Bacarri Rambo has made a full recovery since suffering a concussion after making a hit against Auburn. Richt said Sunday's practice was a particularly good one for Rambo, who shows no signs of hesitancy at the point of contact after the injury. “The speed at which he’s breaking on the ball, even when we’re asking our guys to thud runners and receivers, he’s doing a great job of making direct hits and he does it the way it needs to be done," Richt said. "Bacarri is really a fine football player.” “He’s sticking his face on those guys and wrapping up and running his feet with no hesitation right now.”

Wide receiver Marlon Brown has missed the past three practices after suffering a concussion last week during practice.


-- Asked about players for next year that have shown significant promise during the bowl practices, Richt offered defensive tackle Kwame Geathers and freshmen quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

-- Richt said that, while bowl practices are often a time for next year's players to get a start on impressing coaches, about 90 percent of the work done this month has been about preparing for the bowl game against Texas A&M.

-- Richt said it would have been understandable for some of the players to slack off a bit with the defensive coaching changes and the lower-tier bowl game this month, but he said for the most part the tempo has been high. "The second or third day of installation, it just wasn't good. I think the first couple days of install, Day 2 and 3, you could tell they were thinking too much. They were getting the calls but they weren't playing very fast. So we were pleased they were getting it, understanding it and communicating it well, but they really weren't playing fast enough and physical enough. Today, that was our big emphasis -- hey you know the plan now or at least you have it in your mind well enough to where you can start executing it with some speed and some physicalness. They did that today. It was a really good day. I guess you could have a problem with that, but I don't see that right now. I see a great attitude."

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