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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Practice Notes: Samuel Moving Inside

Richard Samuel is on the move again, although this time it’s not quite as drastic as his switch from offense to defense earlier this offseason.

After a brief tryout at outside linebacker, new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham decided Samuel was a better fit playing inside linebacker, where he’ll be better able to utilize his speed in coverage.

“He can run, he can cover, and by playing inside, you can still blitz, but there’s a little more coverage element involved, and that would utilize his speed,” Grantham said.

Grantham said all his inside linebackers have crosstrained at both inside positions – the Mike and Mo, as Grantham is calling them – and Samuel will work at each.

That still leaves Georgia a bit thin at outside linebacker, but head coach Mark Richt said the staff felt the best option was to put Samuel where he had the best chance to succeed rather than trying to fill out a depth chart.

“It’s probably a little bit more natural for him (to play inside),” Richt said. “We started him outside a little bit because of some issues with numbers at outside linebacker, but to give him a more fair opportunity, we moved him inside.”


Georgia’s new-look secondary has been a work in progress so far this spring, with Brandon Boykin, the lone returning starter, switching from boundary corner to field corner, and three other starting jobs up for grabs.

Bacarri Rambo appears to have one of the open safety jobs locked down, but the other two players working with the No. 1 unit have been a bit of a surprise – sophomore Shawn Williams at safety and senior Vance Cuff at corner.

“I like what I see out of Vance, he’s definitely competing hard,” Boykin said. “I definitely think (Williams) has gotten better and is continuing to compete. Nothing’s set in stone, but I think he could definitely have a shot at that safety spot.”

Nick Williams, Jakar Hamilton and Quintin Banks are also in the running for the vacant starting safety job, while Sanders Commings, Jordan Love and Branden Smith are battling for the open cornerback role.

At nickel, Boykin said he and Smith have gotten the most work, but even that remains an open competition.

“As of right now, we’re the nickels,” Boykin said. “I plan on being the nickel once the season starts, but we really don’t know. Right now we’re just trying to learn the system, so we’ll see.”


Senior offensive lineman Clint Boling said he has been pleased with the progress of Trinton Sturdivant, who is recovering from his second knee surgery in as many years. Sturdivant has been jogging and doing some light workouts, but won’t be a full participant in spring practice.

That leaves the future for Boling wide open once again. Boling started as a freshman at guard, then shifted to right tackle as a sophomore. After Sturdivant went down, he eventually moved to left tackle, but swapped back to the right side again to start the 2009 season. Midway through last year, however, Boling was on the move again to replace Sturdivant, so by the time his senior season is ready to kick off, he has no idea where he might end up.

“I really don’t know,” Boling said. “I’ve switched around so much that it’s all kind of run together so it doesn’t matter which position I’m playing, I guess.”


Georgia held its first character education meetings of the spring on Thursday, and Richt talked to his seniors about developing their leadership on the practice field. The result was the most spirited day of practice so far, Richt said.

Identifying some leaders within the locker room will be a key step this spring. Last year’s veterans – Joe Cox, Jeff Owens and Rennie Curran – are all gone, and while Richt singled out Clint Boling, Darryl Gamble and Akeem Dent as players who have stepped into that leadership role, he said there are plenty of jobs available and plenty of candidates for the gig.

“I don’t want to discourage anybody by not calling him out because all those guys are really doing a good job,” Richt said.


-- Richt on Thursday’s practice: “It’s a great energy bunch right now. They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm. It was the first day in some form of pads where they could actually hit somebody, I think they were excited about that. But both sides of the ball came out to get better. We’re making a ton of mistakes, I know that. But when we’re making mistakes with the type of tempo and energy we’re having, it’s fun to see. We see really good athletes out there making plays on both sides of the ball, and I’m really encouraged right now.

-- On the injury front, offensive lineman Dallas Lee left practice for about 10 minutes due to some asthma issues, but returned for the completion of workouts. Safety Jakar Hamilton left practice early Tuesday with a foot injury, but he was back to a full workout Thursday.

-- Richt singled out an unnamed blogger who he thought misunderstood how the team planned to use Logan Gray on special teams this season. While Richt didn’t name names and said he “rarely, if ever” reads blogs, he felt the need to clear the air because, “the gentleman just didn’t understand why he was back there returning punts”

“When Logan is back there, it’s a time when the offensive team is punting it in, it’s a pooch kick,” Richt said. “Our defense, our punt return team, is in punt safe to keep them from faking the punt because they’ve crossed our 50-yard line. So all Logan is doing is making the decision on whether to make the fair catch or let the ball hit. The fine gentleman who writes the blog, I don’t think he really understood that very much. I just thought if everybody got educated on that, they might understand a little bit better why Logan would do that. He was 100 percent last year on making those decisions and never bobbled the ball. That’s not a hard thing to do, and we’re not expecting him to return the punt because those punts don’t get returned.”

Re-reading what I wrote Tuesday about Logan, I’m fairly certain I wasn’t the offending party. Then again, Richt was looking in my general direction during his remarks. Or perhaps he was simply checking out the score of the UNLV-Northern Iowa game.


W. B. said...

I think the blogger in question is the ostentatious Bill King ...

rbubp said...

Oh, that Big East!! You media and your ACC/Big east biases in basketball..

BIG 12 is far and away the best b-ball conference this year. BOOK IT.

Anonymous said...

David- I saw where you gave a link to a Scott Chancey article today. I live in Albany and have a subscription to the AH. Chancey is an atrocious writer. I have often wondered what kind of blackmail he has on Gebhardt to maintain his job. His articles are an absolute beatdown on the the reader.