August 17, 2013

Will youth be served?

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Damian Swann has heard the doubters, those who suggest that Clemson and quarterback Tajh Boyd will light the Georgia secondary up like a Christmas Tree.

Considering who the Bulldogs graduated off of last year's squad, it's easy to see why some may think that way.

But to the former Grady High star, those are fighting words.

"Nobody straps it on but us, nobody gets on that field but us," Swann said. "When it's time to get between those white lines, we've just got to show up. We'll be ready, we'll be fine."

Head coach Mark Richt obviously hopes that's the case.
Following practice Friday, Richt admits he's concerned how much a recent run of injuries in Georgia's secondary has kept some key personnel off the field.

While most of the injuries have occurred at safety where Tray Matthews, Corey Moore and Shaquille Fluker were each on Georgia's post-practice injury report, cornerback Sheldon Dawson (shoulder sprain) missed Friday's workout due to a shoulder sprain.

He hasn't been alone.

Freshman Shaq Wiggins missed around a week with a groin injury, although he's now back and along with fellow freshman Brendan Langley are getting tons of reps to get them prepared for what's to come.

"They're still learning and they haven't got complacent," Swann said. "They've been averaging almost a pick a day. That's a confidence builder for them and I think that's what they need when it comes down to the situation."

Both Wiggins and Langley intercepted passes in last week's scrimmage, with Langley also breaking up a pass in the end zone to prevent a score.

"I've made some plays here and there, and done some not-so-great things here and there," Langley said prior to the scrimmage. "I'm like the rest of everybody else, just work toward our goal."

Langley said Bulldog coaches are giving him looks at boundary corner, field corner, along with star.

"It's pretty much everything," he said. "They've got me moving around a pretty good bit."

At 6-foot-2 and 181 pounds, Langley said he feels he's able to hold his own, although getting used to covering bigger receivers like Jonathon Rumph and Justin Scott-Wesley has proven quite challenging.

"It's a little different when you have a receiver as big as Rumph coming down on you full speed looking to get off the block," he said. "It's definitely a big challenge."

However, he feels strides are being made.

"Physicality-wise, I think I'm doing a good job. There's been a couple of holding calls here and there, but we're not going to worry about that right now," Langley said. "Everybody is going to be physical, I like that. I like being a physical corner and to make a big hit. I'm definitely still learning but I feel good about where I am."

Junior college transfer Kennar Johnson is also expected a key role, and supplement the Bulldog cornerback position with Dawson, plus veterans Devin Bowman and Blake Sailors.

"I would say they're probably in the same boat," Swann said of Johnson, Wiggins and Langley. "They're all competing and getting nearly the same amount of reps. It's just one of those things where a guy has to prove he deserves that spot but I think with those young corners we'll be fine regardless of the situation just because of the scheme that we have."

However, he knows slowing Boyd won't be easy.

"He's (Boyd) one of the best in the country but you can't allow him to do what he wants to do," Swann said. "You can't allow him to sit back there and sling it, and you can't allow him to hurt you with his feet. We've just got to play fundamental football."

But will even that be enough?

"We'll have to find out. That's everybody's quest, what can this young secondary do against Clemson," Swann said. "Come Aug 31, we'll find out."

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