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August 16, 2012

Is Gurley the man for UGA running back job?

Freshman Todd Gurley had his second consecutive impressive scrimmage Wednesday, but on Thursday running backs coach Bryan McClendon said he's not anywhere close to coming up with a pecking order for the season-opener against Buffalo.

"Definitely all those guys are going to play," McClendon said after practice. "But as far a clear-cut pecking order, we'll probably come up with something a little later, but not today."

McClendon said there's still plenty of evaluating that needs to get done.

"You're trying to make sure that all those guys get equal amount of reps, so you try to guess how many plays we're going to get going into a scrimmage and divvy it up from that point on so you can get your evaluation," McClendon said. "You want everybody with the same people, so to speak, so you can get a clear baseline for what guys are doing."

McClendon's just happy he's got choices to make.

Although Gurley's effort (7-82, two touchdowns) was easily the best from a numbers perspective, fellow freshman Keith Marshall (6-62), Richard Samuel (6-40) and Ken Malcome (5-35) received praise from the coach as well.

"Todd's definitely doing a great job. He's making the plays that he needs to make and he keeps progressing," McClendon said. "I think he is doing a good job. He's not the only one, Keith had a good scrimmage, Ken had a really, really good scrimmage as well. All those guys came out and did pretty well."

McClendon said Samuel is still splitting his time 50-50 between tailback and fullback.

Bobo praises Murray

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo didn't seem the least bit concerned about quarterback Aaron Murray's two turnovers (one fumble, one interception) Wednesday.

"Aaron had a great scrimmage yesterday," Bobo said. "The interception he had was a protection blowdown where he had to run up in the pocket and the DB (Corey Moore) made a great play. But he had an outstanding scrimmage He was 9 of 13 for 69 percent and the one interception was really not his fault."

The fumble, he said, would not have happened during an actual game.

"We know we've got to protect the ball at all times. It (the fumble) was more of an 'OK, we're sacked' and he just kind of sat there and relaxed and the ball was hit out type of thing," Bobo said. "There were a couple of times we were running and fumbled the ball, Hutson (Mason) and Christian (LeMay) had one of those, but overall I was pleased. We've just got to keep preaching good habits about protecting the ball."

Bobo also had some comments for two of his young receivers:

Regarding sophomore Chris Conley's scrimmage which saw him catch four passes for 114 yards and a touchdown: "He played slot receiver for the first time yesterday . He made one catch there. He was very excited about that, and I think Chris Conley can do anything he puts his mind too, but he's still a work in progress," Bobo said. "But because of the effort he gives in practice, every time he runs a route, even when he's just running a clear route, he can still be successful. The touchdown he ran yesterday, it was a clear-out route. He's not even in progression but he ran so hard and blew the top off the coverage, Murray saw him and hit him. Sometimes when guys run clear routes they don't really run the full, full speed because they know they're not getting the ball, but that's the kind of effort he gives and he's going to make plays because of the effort he gives on the field. He'll be getting the opportunity because of how hard he plays."

On redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley: "Justin has got to continue to improve," Bobo said." I think he is going to play for us this year and he's trying to work so he can get in that rotation. He's not up there yet, but I like his improvement and his progress."

Grantham updates safety play

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was pleased with what he saw from his young safeties Wednesday, including freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons.

The former Lowndes standout enjoyed a stellar afternoon, not only collecting four tackles from his safety position, but also intercepting a pass and recording a sack.

" He's a rangy guy. He's very athletic in space, he's physical but still young and learning what to do," Grantham said. "But he came out today, had a great practice and improved on some areas where he could have played better yesterday. I'm pleased with his progress and we're going to keep developing him to get him ready to play."

Also:

Regarding sophomore safety Corey Moore: "I think Corey was one of the most improved guys from the scrimmage. He made some plays in coverage. He's always been a very physical player in the run game and that showed up yesterday," Grantham said. "He's a guy who has kind of gotten it and he's working really hard. He made some plays on some balls, made an interception which for a safety if you can do both, really makes you a lot more valuable in how you play guys. I think Corey has worked hard to become a good player for us and I'm very pleased with his progress."

On Connor Norman, who was awarded a scholarship last weekend: "To me, you evaluate every player when they first come here and he was a guy who always kind of showed up in the right spot. His first scrimmage last year he went with the first group and the second group because of injuries. He had literally maybe 80 or 90 plays, but he played every one of them," Grantham said. "The kid hustles, he's smart, he knows what to do, he's dependable, so I mean guys like that are important and you've got to have core guys. He's really busted his tail to learn our system, to be in the right spot and he can do more than one thing for us."

Whether or not freshman outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins will see early playing time: "I think Jordan Jenkins is a guy who has really improved his ability. If you look on how he plays things, say from day three or four to now, he's gotten a little bit better and he understands a little bit about leverage on blocks, he understands a little about how to play with his hands and things, so I think he just has to continue to improve, work hard and he's going to be an important part of our rotation this fall."

This and that

Bobo says redshirt freshman offensive lineman Xzavier Ward continues to impress. Georgia's official injury report Thursday included safety Marc Deas (right hamstring strain, day-to-day), walk-on quarterback Brad Kilborne (illness, out), offensive guard Hunter Long (foot, out), outside linebacker Dexter Morant (right shoulder sprain, limited), Norman (right shoulder contusion, limited), tight end Ty Smith (left hamstring strain, limited) and tight end Hugh Williams (left hand surgery, limited.



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