ATHENS, Ga – It’s finally here.
Yes, College football is in the air as the Georgia Bulldogs took the practice field for the first time in the fall in preparation for the 2011 season Thursday afternoon.
With 30 days left until the season opening game versus Boise State in the Georgia Dome, what’s left of the 2010 team was joined by the ‘Dream Team” to kick off fall camp with their first practice.
Senior cornerback Brandon Boykin is expected to be one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball, and is excited to see what the incoming players can bring to this football team.
“I definitely want to see what big Jonathan Jenkins can do today and how he moves.” cornerback Boykin said. “Chris Sanders, Damian Swan, and I want to see what Malcolm Mitchell is going to do. I have seen him on the 7-on-7s, so I want to see what he can do.”
Another veteran on the defense, junior linebacker Christian Robinson is also expected to take a leadership role, and with the responsibility of playing the Mike linebacker, he will essentially be the quarterback of the defense and he is ready for the upcoming season.
“It’s an exciting feeling knowing that the season is right here and what we’re playing for,” said Robinson. “I’m really excited for the freshman to get out there. I’ve been here and I’m ready to get prepared, but I also want to see these young guys that are going to help us contribute this year.”
Running back Isaiah Crowell, junior college nose John Jenkins among many other incoming players took the field, and head coach Mark Richt has a message for them.
“I told all of them, ‘Your goal is to learn what to do.,” coach Mark Richt said. “I want all of them to contribute; I hope they do in a big way. But I don’t want them to feel pressure to carry the team on their backs.”
The day started off with the USA Today Coaches poll being revealed, and despite coming off a 6-7 season, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 22. A total of eight SEC teams were ranked.
“It’s nice to be mentioned without any doubt,” Richt said. “It’s more important where you are at the end. I think it’s a good sign for the program. It’s a good sign of respect if coaches feel like Georgia is a Top 25 team.”
Several players were available to the media, and the majority of the players were a bit surprised by the ranking, but say that it ultimately doesn’t mean that much.
“That’s an honor being ranked in the top-25,” said quarterback Aaron Murray. “Just looking forward to that first game vs. Boise St. I know we worked really hard this offseason and we have a lot of talent coming back, so I’m shocked, but I can’t wait. It’s just going to make us work that much harder today in practice.”
“At the end of the day, teams can start off not ranked and can win a national championship.” said Robinson.” I think that if we win our games in this conference, that’s what could happen. We have the tools to have a really high ranking and to beat a lot of good teams, and ultimately, if we take it one game at a time, we can be that top team.”
During the off-season much has been made of the unexpected attrition the entire team has had to deal with in regards to players declaring for the NFL Draft, transferring, or getting injured, but Richt said that Grantham isn’t too concerned about that.
“Grantham is so used to playing with a 53-man roster. When you look at a college depth chart, you’re thinking, ‘Man, we might be thin.’ And he (Grantham) says, ‘Coach, I’m used to playing with 53 guys.”
Georgia will next take the practice field on Friday afternoon at the same time, and then starting on Saturday practices will be held at 8:45 a.m. ET.
The Bulldogs will begin the 2011 season Sept. 3 in the Georgia Dome against No. 7 Boise State at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Reiter
ATHENS, Ga — The 2011 football season is officially underway as the Georgia Bulldogs begin camp with their first practice this afternoon. The players reported on Tuesday, went through physical’s and other preparations on Wednesday, but will finally take the field today.
As camp begins it is time to take a look at some key positional battles that will be decided during fall camp preceding the season opener against Boise State.
One of the things that was constantly said by the coaching staff back during spring practice this year was in regards to competition, and the fact that competition makes you better.
Heading into fall camp there are several question marks surrounding key positions, and below are the battles that will be under the spotlight heading into the 2011 season opener against Boise State.
Defensive Nose: In February junior college nose tackle John Jenkins announced his decision to attend Georgia, and many thought that he was going to be the starter at nose without question.
But then in the spring sophomore Kwame Geathers impressed coaches and was named the defensive MVP of spring practice before a stellar G-Day performance where he played very well against senior center Ben Jones.
There’s no question that Geathers and Jenkins will see the playing field in 2011, but the battle in the fall will determine who gets the starting position.
The play of the defensive line is what makes the SEC better than every other conference, and in order to be good, you must have a very strong second unit. In addition, when you run the 3-4 defense the nose position is the most important piece and the fact that Georgia has two very talented players there, will make everyone else on the defense better.
Running back: Many thought that when Isaiah Crowell announced his decision in February, that while he might be behind Caleb King and Washaun Ealey to start the season, he eventually will be the star of the Bulldog running game.
However, things changed after Washaun Ealey transferred and Caleb King was ruled academically ineligible. Now, many fans will look at Crowell to be the answer at running back.
His competition consists of former running back turned former linebacker turned running back again Richard Samuel, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome who sat out most of spring practice due to injury, and junior Carlton Thomas.
Samuel and Malcome will fight Crowell for the first carry of the Boise State game, and Samuel has been given the early edge due to the fact that he is the veteran of the group. Thomas will be suspended for the first game against Boise State because he violated team rules during the off-season.
Offensive line: Just like the running backs, the offensive line has had their fair share of attrition. Freshman Brent Benedict and junior A.J. Harmon have transferred, Tanner Strickland graduated with eligibility remaining, and Trinton Sturdivant went down with another injury and will miss the entire 2011 season.
What remains of the offensive line is worrisome to Georgia fans, and it should be. Rimington Trophy candidate Ben Jones and preseason All-SEC first-team tackle Cordy Glenn will lead the offensive line, but the three other positions will all have new faces.
Sophomore Kenarius Gates is the projected left guard, Chris Burnette is projected as the right guard, and senior Justin Anderson is projected at the right tackle.
Anderson started his Georgia career on the offensive side of the ball, but played on the defensive line last year before suffering a season-ending injury in the first game versus Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to spring practice, Anderson made the switch back the offensive side of the ball.
The front five hasn’t changed much since G-Day, but the depth behind them is the cause for concern. There are several talented freshman that will compete and try to earn back-up spots during fall camp.