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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notes: Sturdivant Question Lingers for O Line

With all five starters returning from last season, Georgia’s offensive line will be among the most experienced in the country this season. Still, there’s one big question mark looming on the horizon that could throw the established line into chaos.

After two years sidelined with injuries, left tackle Trinton Sturdivant is on pace to be ready for the season opener, and that could mean a shake-up among the five starters – Clint Boling, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones, Chris Davis and Josh Davis – who performed so well down the stretch in 2009.

“Trinton looks good,” Josh Davis said. “I think he’s right on schedule to be back when they said he was. I saw him out there (last week). He looked real good. He’s moving around real well. He told me he feels strong and he thinks he’ll be able to come back and do what he’s supposed to do.”

That’s good news for the Bulldogs, no doubt. Sturdivant was a freshman All-American in 2007 and oozes potential – assuming he’s healthy.

But Georgia’s line jelled nicely in the latter half of last season, and a healthy Sturdivant would likely displace Boling – another potential All-American – and send either Josh or Chris Davis to the bench. That’s a possibility that Josh Davis has done his best to ignore for now.

“It crosses my mind but I have no idea,” Josh Davis said. “I have no clue about what (will happen). That’s why (offensive line) coach (Stacy) Searels gets the big bucks to figure that out. I’m sure the best five will play every week. That’s how we’ll roll with it.”

That’s been Searels’ mantra since he arrived at Georgia, so it’s likely a scenario that the current crop of Bulldogs linemen are familiar with. Still, chemistry matters more on the line than virtually anywhere else on the field, and even Davis admits that there will need to be some adjustments as the season progresses.

“Of course chemistry is important,” Davis said. “We played together the last six games of last year and we did all right. But it’s just as important to have a good player. Trinton is a good player. Any way he plays he’s going to do good. I feel like that about all of us. Most of us can play most of the positions. That’s why we did so well in the past because certain guys moving around just learning new positions. It really won’t matter about chemistry because he’s a good player and everyone that can possibly be put in that slot can play that position.”


As Georgia’s starting quarterback, Aaron Murray knows he’ll be viewed as a leader on the offense. As the lone new face on a unit that returns 10 starters, however, he also knows that leadership role won’t simply be handed to him either. So one of Murray’s biggest goals for this offseason is to prove to his teammates that he’s earned the job.

With that in mind, Murray has already been busy prepping for the 2010 season. He’s organizing passing drills twice a week around class schedules. He’s doing rehab and strength training on his shoulder nearly every day to make sure he’s healthy for the season. He’s putting in at least 90 minutes of time in the gym each day, working with receivers and defensive backs with some one-on-one drills, running a handful of seven-on-seven drills with the rest of the offense and then spending more than an hour a day in the film room. It’s a grind, but it’s something he knows he needs to do to earn the respect of the veterans around him.

“I’ve got to find my way of being a leader on this team, my way to motivate people and figure out ways to push them and make them do stuff they never knew they could do,” Murray said. “That’s not going to come in a week or two. It’s going to take some time to better understand the guys and what they can do and motivate them and hopefully by this summer hopefully I’ll make some strides in that category.”

So far, so good on that front. Murray’s teammates are already touting his work ethic and expecting big things from the freshman quarterback when the season gets going in a couple of months.

Last week, after players wrapped up a workout session, Murray got some of his linemen and running backs together to spend a few extra minutes practicing handoffs. He just wanted to work on the little things, lineman Josh Davis said.

“He’s stepping up to the challenge tremendously,” Davis said. “He’s putting in extra work. He’s trying his best to lead because the quarterback is a leadership position. He’s working his butt off to get it done every day.”


Last year, Justin Houston averaged more sacks per game than anyone in the SEC – and that was under Georgia’s old defensive regime.

This year, he’ll be turned loose on opposing quarterbacks as an outside linebacker – moving from defensive end in Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme – and be given the freedom to play a more aggressive style than in years past.

“It’s going to allow me to get more pressure on the quarterback,” Houston said. I’m a stand up guy, so this defense is pretty much a pressure defense so it’s going to allow me to rush more.”

So, if he was already among the best in the SEC last year, how much better might he be now that he’s playing in a scheme that focuses his skills on getting to the quarterback?

Houston isn’t exactly giving away any answers to that question just yet other than to say he’ll do what it takes to win.

“I don’t have an individual goal really,” Houston said. “I just want to do my part and whatever that is to win I just want to do that. I haven’t really looked at individual goals lately. If it takes for me to get 15 sacks for us to win, I’ll get 15 sacks. That’s my goal.”


New defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos thinks he has a pretty strong corps of cornerbacks, and he’s planning to let their talents take over on the field in 2010 by waving goodbye to a lot of zone coverage and rolling the dice with a lot more man-to-man.

“He’s basically saying that my guy is better than your guy, and we’re going to see what happens,” junior Brandon Boykin said. “He’s basically putting you out there on that island, and you just have to have confidence in yourself. I think that’s something that he’s trying to build in us. If we make mistakes we just have to have that short memory, so he’s kind of teaching all those things.”

Those are some lessons Boykin is thrilled to learn. After two straight years with few takeaways and too many big plays allowed, Boykin thinks the new scheme plays to the Bulldogs’ strengths and will make the secondary a lot more dangerous.

“That’s what every corner wants is to get that one-on-one matchup,” Boykin said. “That’s what people get their respect from – not playing zone as much. It gives you a chance to just go out there and show what you have.”

Of course, Boykin also knows that the trust Lakatos has put in his corners has to be rewarded with a lot of effort by the players. The increased man coverage every Saturday means an increased level of importance in how Georgia’s defensive backs prepare for those one-on-one battles during the week.

“No matter how good you are, you still have to work on our technique,” Boykin said. “It’s something that you got to continually work on because everybody is different as far as receivers. You have to see what their strengths are. It will require watching film and things like that. I think we’re doing a good job of that early, and I think we’ll see those improvements going into the fall.”


In terms of hype entering their freshmen years, there probably isn’t much that Branden Smith has in common with the newest member of the Georgia secondary, but that doesn’t mean Derek Owens hasn’t already drawn some comparisons to his speedy teammate.

“He reminds me a lot of Branden Smith,” Boykin said of the 5-11, 180-pound Owens. “He’s quick, great hips. He doesn’t have a lot of technique right now but his quickness makes up for all of that. Really, really quick and has fluid hips. Once he gets the technique he’s going to be really good.”

Owens will likely be competing with Jordan Love and Sanders Commings for a backup role among the cornerbacks in 2010.


As they did at the end of 2009, the Bulldogs figure to open this season with an even split in carries between tailbacks Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, and that’s OK with the offensive line.

For the line, Josh Davis said it doesn’t matter which player gets the football, the blocking schemes are still the same. The only difference between King and Ealey, as far as he’s concerned, is how much smack talk he hears coming from the backfield.

“The only difference we can tell between those two guys in the backfield is Washaun is more lively, and he talks more than Caleb,” Davis said. “You know Caleb is a quiet guy, and Washaun will be talking a little more trash. That’s the only difference to me is the personalities. They both have good speed, good power and a little swagger about them. It’s good having both of them.”


Anonymous said...

No Man is an Island-hope we can get pressure on Mallet or ther are going to be alot of islands out there

Anonymous said...

aaron will be the number one pick in 3 years he has what it takes ...... drew brees type ........ct of dc said so