August 14, 2006

Sit-Rep: Half way through fall camp

The Georgia Bulldogs are just past the halfway point of preseason camp as they go
into the last day of two-a-days Monday. When the team began practice Aug. 5, it
faced many questions. Here's a wrap-up of what we learned after more than a full
week of practices wrapped up by Saturday's scrimmage on a few positions.

The team will practice a total of seven times leading up to Saturday morning's
practice just before picture day, including the second scrimmage of the preseason
Friday. Recently, we ran a few on what we figured were

Quarterback

Well, we'll might as well start where most eyes have been so far. The hope coming into camp was that someone between senior Joe Tereshinski, sophomore Blake Barnes, redshirt freshman Joe Cox and true freshman Matthew Stafford would separate themselves from the pack or make a move to warrant a change in the depth chart. Here's the problem though, each has done his share of good and bad things during practice to leave the pecking order unchanged to this point even after Saturday's scrimmage. There is a chance that a depth chart change could be made before Friday's scrimmage by reviewing film.

What we've learned: This quarterback race is tighter than some may have expected. With it not being narrowed to three guys yet, this deal could be decided later in either the preseason or the season than many expected.

Offensive backfield

Not much has changed here. Junior Thomas Brown's maintained his hold on the No. 1 tailback spot and junior Kregg Lumpkin's asserted himself as a firm No. 2 ahead of junior Danny Ware. Freshman Knowshon Moreno's impressed in practice, but one must wonder how much time he would see given the depth here. For now, the looks are that Moreno's best shot to get on the field could be on special teams.

At fullback, there's a window of opportunity. Because sophomore fullback Brannan Southerland is nursing a sore ankle, it means juniors Des Williams and Jason Johnson have a great chance to step up. Johnson has been limited at times by a sore back. If Georgia continues to stay banged-up here, it could open the door for freshmen Shaun Chapas of Fred Munzenmaier to step up.

What we've learned: Running backs coach Tony Ball has plenty of capable bodies at both positions. If one player is injured, he won't have to look far for a replacement.

Offensive line

The Bulldogs were thin here going into preseason camp, and a few injuries made things worse. Before the first practice of the preseason, Georgia already knew it'd have to be without back-up center Ian Smith and starting offensive tight tackle Daniel Inman in the first two games. In the course of practice, circumstances got dimmer with injuries to back-up split guard Zeb McKinzey and starting tight guard Chester Adams. Adams has since returned to the field after being kept out of three practices with a hip pointer injury with McKinzey still out with a shoulder ailment that was reaggravated within a few days of the start of preseason camp.

What we've learned: The injury to Adams illustrated a worse-case scenario for Georgia on the offensive line, that injuries would spell trouble at this position.

In the first two games, the Bulldogs will only have the use of two game-experienced offensive tackles, seniors Michael Turner and Ken Shackleford. The next option to play tackle would be Adams. When Adams was injured, Seth Watts, whose only experience was in mop-up duty last year, moved into a starting spot at guard. It also put freshman Chris Davis a play away from needing to step in.

If starting senior center Nick Jones gets hurt in the first two games, either McKinzey or junior Fernando Velasco would be top choices to be the emergency fill-ins over freshman Kevin Perez.

Defensive tackles

Senior Ray Gant and sophomore Jeff Owens would appear to be the leaders here on paper, but that hasn't proved true so far. Last week, defensive tackles coach Rodney Garner said that he didn't know who his starters would be if the Bulldogs had to play a game the next day. However, Owens is currently No. 1 on the depth chart at one position with senior Dale Dixson as the other current No. 1. Dixson moved in front of Gant last week and is now comfortably ahead of him with Gant's shoulder injury.

What we've learned: Three things never change: death, taxes and Garner poor-mouthing his players. It's become common in the past for Garner to downplay his players in the media to try and motivate them, and he's doing the same this year. Owens looks to a leader here and Dixson seems like he feels that clock ticking with him being a senior. Plus, he's happy to be back on defense after a one-day experiment on the offensive line.

Aside from Gant, redshirt freshman Kade Weston appears to be on the path to being a solid contributor after a strong off-season. True freshman Ricardo Crawford and Geno Atkins could be factors later in the year, but both are still transitioning from the high school to the college level, according to Garner. Senior Marquis Elmore could challenge for snaps after he returns from a knee injury that's expected to be within a few weeks.

Cornerbacks

The Bulldogs rolled into camp with the starter at one position being a sure thing in Paul Oliver at short corner. Over at wide corner though, the air became filled with question marks on the first day of camp when the front-runner to start, junior Thomas Flowers, was suspended for breaking team rules. His suspension turned the fight for playing time at wide corner into one of the more intriguing position battles in camp, especially considering South Carolina's passing attack being on the docket in the second week of the season.

What we've learned: Despite the G-Day performance of true freshman Asher Allen and eyebrow-raising summer of another true freshman, Prince Miller, both have still got work to do to unseat sophomore more Ramarcus Brown who has the current edge to start at wide corner. That said, Allen's also gotten work with the No. 1 defensive unit, lending credence to the fact that this position may not be settled until the week of the Sept. 2 season-opener against Western Kentucky. Bryan Evans, who's likely to play behind Oliver at the short corner, has also gotten a shot at wide corner.

Either way, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has a problem some would envy in having more quality defensive backs than places to put them in Georgia's defensive scheme.

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