SEC: Kenarious Gates

Georgia Bulldogs season preview

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
10:30
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Previewing the 2014 season for the Georgia Bulldogs

2013 record: 8-5 (5-3 SEC). Lost 24-19 to Nebraska in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

Key losses: QB Aaron Murray, TE Arthur Lynch, DL Garrison Smith, S Josh Harvey-Clemons, S Tray Matthews, CB Shaq Wiggins, OT Kenarious Gates, OG Chris Burnette, OG Dallas Lee, DL Jonathan Taylor.

Key returnees: RB Todd Gurley, LB Ramik Wilson, LB Amarlo Herrera, OLB Leonard Floyd, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OT John Theus, CB Damian Swann, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Chris Conley, DE Ray Drew, C David Andrews, PK Marshall Morgan, WR Justin Scott-Wesley.

Instant impact newcomers: OLB Lorenzo Carter, RB Sony Michel, RB Nick Chubb, CB Malkom Parrish, DT Lamont Gaillard, DB Shattle Fenteng, TE Jeb Blazevich.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Floyd
Jeffrey Vest/Icon SMIAfter leading the Bulldogs with 6.5 sacks as a freshman last season, big things are expected of Leonard Floyd in 2014.
Breakout player: Floyd. The lanky outside linebacker led Georgia with 6.5 sacks in 2013 and added 9.5 tackles for loss as a freshman. He’ll benefit from having a full year in Georgia’s conditioning program and could become a star in his second season.

Most important game: Sept. 13 at South Carolina. Two of the favorites in the SEC East will meet early in the season in Columbia, where the Gamecocks haven’t lost since 2011. They’ve beaten Georgia in their last two trips to Williams-Brice Stadium, including a 35-7 thrashing in 2012. The margin for error is typically narrow within the division, so the winner of this one will be the early team in the East driver’s seat.

Biggest question mark: The secondary is easily Georgia’s biggest area of concern. The Bulldogs’ pass defense was spotty at best in 2013, and the offseason departures of three regulars has left plenty of personnel questions. Coach Mark Richt kicked two starting safeties -- Harvey-Clemons and Matthews -- off the team, and cornerback Wiggins transferred to Louisville, so there is plenty of playing time available. Swann’s presence is big at cornerback, and converted running back J.J. Green was impressive in the spring, but junior college transfer Fenteng and Parrish will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in August.

Upset special: Oct. 11 at Missouri. This could be a tricky game that might not get as much attention as it deserves with matchups against Clemson, South Carolina, Florida and Auburn also on Georgia’s schedule. The defending SEC East champs lost a ton of firepower, so Mizzou seems likely to take a step backward. But it’s a long road trip that kicks off a stretch of more than a month when the Bulldogs won’t play at home once -- and it could easily become a loss if Georgia doesn’t have its act together.

Key stat: 36.7. The average score of a Georgia game was 36.7 to 29.0 in 2013. Even if what was an inexperienced defense improves this fall, the Bulldogs will still likely rely on their star-studded offense. They might need to keep scoring at that prolific clip, which is somewhat uncertain with three longtime starting offensive linemen to replace, to allow time for the defense and their new set of coaches to develop some continuity.

Team’s top Twitter follows: The Bulldogs have some good choices here. Seeing as how he’s never started a game, it might seem surprising that senior offensive lineman Watts Dantzler (@WattsDantzler) has 12,000 Twitter followers. But he’s a natural-born entertainer who has a nationwide following that grew substantially when he live tweeted a harrowing spring break trip back to Athens on a bus. Another good pick is tight ends coach John Lilly (@JohnLillyUGA), who is a much more creative on Twitter than the typical coach. Lastly, Conley (@_Flight_31) regularly updates his 27,400 followers on his latest film exploits; he produced and starred in a well-received “Star Wars” tribute film over the summer and has started work on a new movie in recent weeks.

Preseason predictions:

ESPN Stats & Info: 9.06 wins

Bovada over-under: 9.5 wins

Our take: Georgia was better than an eight-win team last season, but the Bulldogs were absolutely decimated by injuries to key players like Mitchell, Gurley, Scott-Wesley, tailback Keith Marshall and eventually Murray. If new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt can get things straight on his side of the ball, the ceiling is extremely high for this team. The offense has an impressive array of talent surrounding senior quarterback Hutson Mason and should be difficult to contain. If the Bulldogs open with a win against Clemson at Sanford Stadium, this could easily become a 10-2 or 9-3 season where Georgia is once again in the thick of the East race.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia's win on Nov. 9 against Appalachian State wasn't just one of the last times we'll see this senior-laden version of the Bulldogs offense, it also served as a sneak preview of what lies ahead.

Following Saturday's date with Kentucky -- the final game at Sanford Stadium this season -- the Bulldogs will look entirely different on offense the next time they take the field before a home crowd. And many of the players who will take over for the likes of Aaron Murray and his fellow seniors next fall also filled their spots in the fourth quarter of Georgia's 45-6 win over the Mountaineers two weekends ago.

[+] EnlargeHutson Mason
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNBackup quarterback Hutson Mason is the frontrunner to start for the Bulldogs in 2014.
“I think the thing you can't get in practice is just that 95,000 [fans] with the atmosphere,” said junior Hutson Mason, Georgia's presumptive starting quarterback next season, who went 11-for-16 for 160 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Appalachian State. “Really you can get everything [else] in practice. Our coaches, they believe in putting a lot of pressure on you so when it comes to the game, you're used to that feeling. But it's definitely a different atmosphere, different jitters.”

Assuming he wins the quarterback job, Mason will be in a convenient position next season. Georgia loses seven seniors -- Murray, tight end Arthur Lynch, receivers Rantavious Wooten and Rhett McGowan and offensive linemen Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee -- who started on offense against Auburn. And yet the returning skill-position talent surrounding the Bulldogs' next quarterback will be as impressive as that of nearly any offense in the country.

Not only will tailback Todd Gurley return for his junior season, the Bulldogs expect to get receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall back from season-ending knee injuries that crippled the offense at points this fall. That's in addition to other returning weapons like receivers Chris Conley, Michael Bennett and Jonathon Rumph, tight end Jay Rome and tailbacks J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas and 2014 commitments Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, both of whom rank among ESPN's top eight prospects at running back.

Not a bad situation for a first-time starting quarterback who must replace the most distinguished passer in SEC history.

“We've got a lot of weapons,” redshirt freshman receiver Blake Tibbs said. “And Hutson, he don't care who's open. If they put a dog in a helmet and some equipment out there, if he was open, Hutson would throw it to him. That's one thing about Hutson: He don't care. If you're open, he's going to trust you to make the play and he's going to keep throwing to you.”

Mason certainly proved that in his lone opportunity for significant playing time this season. He hit his first eight pass attempts, connecting with the likes of Rumph, Green, freshman Reggie Davis and walk-on Kenneth Towns on his first drive. Then came further completions to Tibbs, Michael Erdman, Douglas and Rumph again before his first incomplete pass.

The common bond there? Those are mostly the players with whom Mason has regularly worked on the Bulldogs' second-team offense, so chemistry was not an issue when they hit the field.

“That group's kind of been playing together -- besides Rumph -- for a long time and a lot of when our twos go against the ones, they always seem to do well and I think there's a chemistry between those guys kind of like Aaron and Bennett and other guys,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

There's a long time between now and the reserves' time to shine. Heck, there are three games remaining this season.

That means there is plenty of time for the stars in waiting to continue to develop before the Bulldogs open the 2014 season against Clemson on Aug. 30 -- which is exactly the mentality Rumph says he's developing.

“That's what young players have got to understand,” said Rumph, who has six catches in the last three games after missing the first half of the season with a hamstring ailment. “This is your job, so every time you go to school or go to practice, you've got to work to get better. That's all I'm trying to do is keep adding stuff to my game. I've got the feel for the game, I know what I'm capable of. I'm just trying to keep adding stuff to my game.”

Mason echoed those thoughts, pointing out that while even coach Mark Richt has declared Mason as the frontrunner to win the job next season, he still must make good use of this opportunity and not just assume the job is his from the get-go.

He has the opportunity to work with what could be an extremely productive offense next season -- if he stakes a claim on the job.

“I'm not going to be na´ve. I hear about that stuff and I read some of it and stuff like that. I've always been the first to say that I believe they're just being nice,” Mason said. “I believe that I've done a good job of performing when my opportunity comes, but I've never stepped on the field in front of 90,000 and like I was saying earlier, that's different from playing in practice.

“So I enjoy the comments and I enjoy the people that have faith in me, but really myself, I just take it day-by-day and say, 'You know what, what have I proven?' because in reality I haven't proven a lot. So when that opportunity comes, hopefully I'll show up.”

UGA, Kentucky both look to bounce back

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Given the way they finished in their most recent outings, it would be understandable if both Georgia and Kentucky have difficulty getting up for Saturday's game in Athens. Because at this point, neither team has much to play for aside from pride.

[+] EnlargeRicardo Louis
Shanna LockwoodRicardo Louis' catch deprived Georgia of any chance at winning the SEC East. Can the Dawgs rebound and play well against Kentucky?
“We need to be able to bounce back,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team's dramatic fourth-quarter rally went for naught when No. 6 Auburn completed a 73-yard Hail Mary in the final minute to win 43-38. “Kentucky had a tough loss, too, so both teams have to shake it off and get back ready to compete. That's the nature of the business and the nature of the game of football or competitive sports, period. You lose and you've got a game the next week or the next day, depending on the sport, and you've got to shake it off and get back to work.”

Kentucky (2-8, 0-6 SEC) did indeed suffer a difficult defeat, falling 22-6 at Vanderbilt to drop its 14th consecutive conference game. The Wildcats outgained the Commodores 246-172 through three quarters, but Vandy dominated the fourth, enjoying a 141-16 yardage advantage and scoring 13 unanswered points to earn the victory.

But that was just a run-of-the-mill loss compared to the gut-wrenching circumstances by which Georgia lost. The Bulldogs were on the verge of getting blown out early, only to slowly creep back into the game. Then Aaron Murray and the Georgia offense caught fire late, scoring three straight touchdowns and rolling up 216 yards of offense in the fourth quarter alone, only to have Ricardo Louis grab a deflected pass and score the game-winning touchdown on a fourth-down, desperation heave by Nick Marshall.

The loss eliminated Georgia (6-4 overall, 4-3 SEC) from contention in the SEC East and forced the Bulldogs to focus on lesser goals instead of representing the division for a third straight season in the SEC championship game.

“The season isn't over with. We will approach it just like any other game,” said Rantavious Wooten, one of seven seniors who started against Auburn, along with fellow receiver Rhett McGowan, Murray, offensive linemen Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee, and tight end Arthur Lynch. “It's going to be my last game in Sanford Stadium, so we will have to talk to the young guys and tell them to keep the faith and keep fighting.”

There is also the matter of reaching the best bowl possible. Although Georgia's options aren't particularly promising -- the majority of Sunday's bowl projections favor the Bulldogs to play in either the Gator or Music City bowls -- that possibility was off the table for Kentucky weeks ago.

The Wildcats, however, have given Georgia fits in recent years, so the Bulldogs likely can't afford a flat effort. Georgia is 5-2 against Kentucky dating back to a 24-20 loss in Lexington in 2006 -- one of four times in that seven-game stretch where the outcome has been decided by seven points or less.

Considering how Georgia has struggled to finish off opponents -- Saturday was only the most recent heart-stopper for a Bulldogs team that is setting an historically bad pace on defense -- that has to be a cause for concern.

In fact, Georgia's defensive shortcomings were the subject of multiple questions Richt faced on his Sunday teleconference, as Todd Grantham's defense is on pace to set new program marks for most points allowed and most yards allowed.

The 2009 team surrendered 337 points, which is a program high for a season of 12-plus games. This year's team, which is surrendering 30.2 points per game, has already allowed 302 points with three games to play (Kentucky, Georgia Tech and a bowl game). Likewise, the 2013 Bulldogs are on pace to surrender 5,029.7 yards -- potentially just the second time in school history that Georgia allowed 5,000-plus yards after last season's bunch surrendered 5,009 in 14 games.

“Here's what I say: I say we're a team here at Georgia and we're going to keep coaching and keep trying to make improvements and corrections on everything we do, in all phases of the game,” Richt said when asked to rate his level of satisfaction with the defensive coaching staff's performance.

Such a response is common under these circumstances for Richt, who is rarely willing to discuss his concerns publicly. Grantham's defense is preparing to face teams that rank 104th (Kentucky, 349.2 yards per game) and 53rd (Georgia Tech, 432.2) nationally in total offense, so the Bulldogs should have an opportunity to improve their underwhelming defensive stats before the season ends.

It would be much easier to focus on such necessary improvements had safeties Tray Matthews or Josh Harvey-Clemons managed to knock down Auburn's last-gasp touchdown pass to preserve Georgia's comeback win. The Bulldogs would still be alive in the East race and would have a third win against a top-10 opponent this season instead of grasping at less-appealing methods to motivate themselves for their home finale against Kentucky.

That's Richt and company's unique challenge this week after a defeat that could naturally cause lingering dejection -- and the coach said he plans to focus on the positive as best he can.

“We've got to do a good job of, again, pointing out all the positive things that happened and building on those types of things, because there were a lot of tremendous things that happened in the game,” Richt said. “And then make sure we learn from whatever mistakes we had, correct them, have a plan for that, and then we have to get the new game plan in.”


When LSU meets Georgia in Athens on Saturday, Ego Ferguson expects a slugfest up front.

LSU's junior defensive tackle knows playing with the big uglies in the SEC means constant fights each week, but this one feels different. Georgia has experience and comfort, while LSU walks in with inexperience and hunger.

The sledgehammer that hits hardest could pave the way to a 2-0 conference start.

"It's like watching a heavyweight fight. It's like [Muhammad] Ali and [George] Foreman go at it," Ferguson said. "It's going to be a battle all day. The way we look at it, we're coming in to prove a point that we can still do it on the defensive line. It's going to be a great challenge, but we're going to be at our best."

It's been nearly 39 years since Ali claimed his second heavyweight title, knocking out Foreman in the eighth round of the historic "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire. It was a fight for the ages and Ferguson, who is second on LSU's team with 21 tackles and has 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack, expects a dogfight to break out up front inside Sanford Stadium.

He has every reason to think this will be quite the bout between these two lines. Georgia returned all five offensive line starters this season and added a top-end piece to the starting lineup with the return of Kolton Houston. After giving up four sacks in the season-opening loss to Clemson, Georgia's line has allowed just two sacks since then and the Bulldogs are second in the SEC in offense, averaging 574 yards per game and 7.8 yards per play.

Tight end Arthur Lynch says a reason for the line's turnaround has been comfort. Communication and nerves hurt this line in a hostile environment at Clemson, but the line's composure has improved greatly in the last two games. It started in the dramatic, 41-30 win over South Carolina, when the line surrendered two sacks and 39 negative yards. It continued with Georgia giving up no sacks and just four negative rushing yards in the blowout of North Texas.

The line would like to clean up the negative rushing yards in big games -- there were 72 combined against Clemson and South Carolina -- but with the mistakes decreasing every week, Lynch has high hopes for Saturday.

"It all starts up front; that's the nature of it," Lynch said. "No matter what you think or how you think football is played, the battle is one up front on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. For us to have some confidence in our offensive line and to know that they get better each week, as it continues to grow knowing the stuff that we have built around it, the sky is the limit for us as an offense."

The Tigers have been impressive on defense, allowing 310 yards per game, and 5.5 of LSU's seven sacks have come from linemen. But they've had some hiccups. They let teams such as TCU and Auburn hang around with 38 combined second-half points. LSU gave up a season-high 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Auburn.

It's a bit of a concern, but defensive tackle Anthony Johnson said the defensive line embraces the challenge Saturday, trying to stop Georgia's high-powered passing and rushing attacks.

"Our linebackers felt it was their job to [put pressure on Georgia's offense], but honestly, it starts up front," Johnson said. "We have to set the line of scrimmage and get everything together. If we play like we're supposed to play, it'll be a great day for us."

So how does LSU beat a line that's seemingly getting better every week? Johnson, who has 2.5 tackles for loss this year, says it starts inside. Georgia's line is clicking, but Johnson thinks he knows what the Tigers can exploit Saturday.

"Honestly, we've seen guys beat them on the inside," he said. "We've watched a lot of film on Georgia and they can be beaten. There's nobody that's invincible. We just have to work hard and play our technique."

Winning the battle inside would do wonders for LSU's pass rush, which has to improve if the Tigers are going to stop Georgia. LSU hasn't had the same production as years past, but that past aggression must be present Saturday. However, it won't be easy with Houston and Kenarious Gates manning the outside.

You have to respect Johnson's confidence, especially considering the fact that LSU's defensive line lost four NFL draft picks, but you also have to respect what Georgia's line has done. It's helped engineer one of the nation's best running duos in Todd Gurley (377 yards) and Keith Marshall (117). Quarterback Aaron Murray also is inching closer to more Georgia and SEC records with his 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns.

"Are we the most physically imposing bunch of guys up front? We're not," Georgia coach Mark Richt said, "but we have a bunch of guys collectively that when they get on the same page and they get after it, we've been able to create enough space for our backs and enough time for our quarterback to succeed."

It should be quite the rumble between the hedges.

Porous UGA line now must face Clowney

September, 2, 2013
9/02/13
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ATHENS, Ga. -- While it might seem odd to criticize an offensive line that helped Georgia generate 545 yards -- on the road in one of the louder stadiums the Bulldogs will visit this season, no less -- it is clear that offensive line coach Will Friend has not settled on a lineup that he loves after Saturday’s 38-35 loss to Clemson.

With Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina’s fearsome defensive front on deck Saturday, that is not a particularly encouraging sign for the Bulldogs. But Georgia’s linemen realize they can’t allow themselves to think that way.

[+] EnlargeClowney
Gerry Melendez/Getty ImagesJadeveon Clowney was unimpressive against North Carolina, but he has starred against Georgia.
“If you take that aspect of it, then you’re just going to psyche yourself out,” said offensive tackle Kolton Houston, who started his first college game at right tackle on Saturday. “You’ve got to give him credit. I mean Clowney’s definitely one of the best players there is, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to treat it like any other guy.”

Such a philosophy might not be particularly useful for Georgia’s coaching staff, which knows it must frequently commit more than one blocker to Clowney -- a player widely viewed as one of the top pro prospects in college football.

Clowney got off to an unimpressive start in last Thursday’s win against North Carolina, but he has made his impression felt in two games against Georgia to date.

As a freshman in 2011, he twice sacked Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray and forced Murray into a fumble that teammate Melvin Ingram recovered for the win-clinching touchdown late in a 45-42 South Carolina victory. Last season, Clowney had two tackles for a loss and a sack as the Gamecocks harassed Murray into the lowest single-game QBR (8.4, when his season average was 78.2, 13th-best in the nation) of his college career.

“Whatever happened last year is last year,” said Georgia’s Kenarious Gates, who struggled mightily against Clowney a season ago. “The thing about me is I learned to move on and focus on what’s ahead of me.”

What’s ahead is a chance for redemption, not just for Gates, but for an entire offensive line that turned in an embarrassing effort in last season’s 35-7 loss to the Gamecocks. But it’s unclear who will line up on the edge to defend against Clowney, Chaz Sutton and South Carolina’s other pass rushers.

Friend experimented with several lineups in Saturday’s opener, to mixed results at best. While Georgia generated more first downs, rushing yards and passing yards, averaged more yards per play and led in time of possession, the line also committed a handful of costly penalties and surrendered four sacks -- more than in any game last year except one, when they allowed five to Ole Miss.

Three of those sacks came in the second quarter, when Clemson’s defense put the clamps on a Georgia offense that moved the ball at will early in the game. Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley zipped around flailing left tackle Gates on one third-down rush to nearly decapitate Murray with a vicious blind-side blow that forced a punt.

On Georgia’s next possession, Stephone Anthony got around right tackle Houston and knocked the ball away from Murray at the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, forcing a fumble that Clemson’s Spencer Shuey recovered at the 16 to set up a short touchdown drive.

And on the final possession of the first half, Tavaris Barnes blew past Houston -- now playing left tackle -- to take down Murray near midfield and short-circuit Georgia’s attempt to drive for the go-ahead points just before halftime.

Clemson added one more sack on Georgia’s first possession of the second half and the Bulldogs otherwise kept Murray upright. Some key damage had already been done, however, and Georgia’s offense never regained its early momentum.

“We definitely had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day it’s a loss and Aaron got his jersey dirty,” Houston said.

Gates lost weight in the offseason, partially out of a desire to be quicker on his feet so he could more easily contend with speed rushers like Beasley and Clowney.

“I felt like that would make me a better player -- lighter on my feet and quicker and it’s lighter on my knees, as well,” Gates said last week. “I feel like doing it for me, doing it for the team, it would make me a more athletic player. I want to be that guy, and overall it’s been helpful.”

Clowney presents the biggest challenge of the season for Georgia’s pass protectors, though, and it seems unlikely that Friend and Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will make one player responsible for the Gamecocks star. Count on Georgia to devote tight ends and running backs to Clowney’s side, as well, to assist the tackles against the player who totaled 23.5 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks a season ago.

And as Bulldogs coach Mark Richt pointed out, the Bulldogs will also enjoy the benefit of playing at home, unlike in Saturday’s loss. Georgia relied on silent snap counts because of the noise present in Death Valley, but the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium will allow the Bulldogs to vary their cadences and prevent Clowney and company from jumping the snap count so easily.

“I think the times we got beat in my opinion, we just got beat off the snap,” Richt said. “We’ll have our cadence next week and that will help. If we were at South Carolina, it would be a little bit tougher, but I think it will help when we get off on the cadence.”

Georgia Bulldogs spring wrap

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
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GEORGIA BULLDOGS

2012 record: 12-2
2012 conference record: 7-1 (first, SEC East)
Returning starters: Offense: 10; defense: 4; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners: QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley, CB Damian Swann, WR Malcolm Mitchell, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OL Kenarious Gates, OG Chris Burnette, ILB Amarlo Herrera

Key losses: OLB Jarvis Jones, LB Alec Ogletree, S Shawn Williams, S Bacarri Rambo, NG John Jenkins, CB Sanders Commings, WR Tavarres King

2012 statistical leaders (* - returner)
Rushing: Gurley * (1,385 yards)
Passing: Murray * (3,893 yards)
Receiving: King (950 yards)
Tackles: Ogletree (111)
Sacks: Jones (14.5)
Interceptions: Swann * (4)

Spring answers

1. Safety starters: With 2011 All-Americans Rambo and Williams completing their college careers, the Bulldogs entered the spring with two big holes at safety. It appears sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons and January enrollee Tray Matthews have all but claimed the starting positions, however. Harvey-Clemons was named the Bulldogs’ defensive MVP of spring practice, and Matthews generated the most buzz of anyone this spring with his ability to deliver crushing hits. Georgia’s inexperience along the back end of the defense is not ideal, but the two youngsters could become a pleasant surprise.

2. Newcomers contribute: Matthews wasn’t the only early enrollee who made his mark during the spring -- and many of those 13 newcomers will play big roles in the fall. Others like defensive lineman Chris Mayes, linebacker Reggie Carter, cornerback Reggie Wilkerson and running back/receiver J.J. Green all but ensured that they will contribute this fall by acquitting themselves nicely while learning how to function as college players. Keep an eye on another early enrollee, receiver Tramel Terry, once the Bulldogs open preseason practice. Terry did not practice this spring while recovering from a torn ACL suffered late last fall, but he could be healthy by August and could become yet another valuable freshman.

3. Returning weapons: With almost everyone returning on offense -- only King and receiver Marlon Brown are gone among the key contributors -- the Bulldogs should be able to score with as much efficiency as last season’s group that set a school record with 529 points. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo already knows what players including Murray, Gurley, tailback Keith Marshall and Mitchell can do. This spring, players like offensive MVP Chris Conley, G-Day standout Jonathon Rumph and Green also flashed the potential to make the offense even more potent.

Fall questions

1. Starting quickly: A defense that must replace 12 key performers was a pleasant surprise this spring. But can Todd Grantham’s rebuilt defense reload quickly enough to hold its own against the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU? Georgia faces all of those teams before the end of September. Grantham’s defense underperformed a season ago despite a wealth of NFL-ready talent. The talent is still there, but the defensive coaches have their work cut out with so many inexperienced players needing to be ready for the season-defining early schedule.

2. Offensive line rotation: With Burnette out for the entire spring and offensive tackle John Theus out for the first half of the practices, offensive line coach Will Friend had plenty of reason to shuffle his lineup -- and that’s exactly what he did. Friend’s group returns everyone from last season, including four players who started all 14 games, but he did not seem prepared to guarantee any starting jobs at the end of the spring. It’s possible that the shuffling could continue in August, and he might allow a greater number of linemen to play once the season begins.

3. Sack specialists: Jones led the nation with 24.5 tackles for a loss, 14.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles last season while serving as the Bulldogs' top pass-rusher. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins appears to be first in line to replace him -- and he has already informed his predecessor that he intends to eventually break his school sack record -- but Jones set an awfully high bar for Jenkins to attempt to clear. In order to make Grantham's 3-4 defense function correctly, the Bulldogs need Jenkins and some of the defensive linemen who will be stepping into larger roles to keep applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
The dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu has created quite the debate about whether or not LSU should still be considered a legit contender for the national championship.

Yes, Mathieu was a big play waiting to happen whenever he was on the field last year, but was he so special that LSU's chances at competing for and winning a national championship should be considerably hindered? I think not. There's just too much talent on both sides of the ball in Baton Rouge.

Mathieu's playmaking ability and knack for creating turnovers will be deeply missed on defense, as will his ability to generate a huge play in the punt return game, but there are enough pieces to fill in and keep the Tigers in the hunt for multiple championships this season.

By that logic, Mathieue doesn't qualify as one of the SEC's most indispensable players. The Tigers might be better with him, but they certainly aren't slouches without him.

So who are the players teams can't survive without? Who are the most indispensable players for each team in the SEC?

Let's take a look:

ALABAMA
  • AJ McCarron, QB: The Crimson Tide certainly has a wealth of talent on offense, but take McCarron out of the equation and Alabama would be sunk. Last year’s backup, Phillip Sims, transferred to Virginia, and there isn’t any experience behind McCarron. Alabama might have to put its offense in the hands of a freshman if McCarron went down.
ARKANSAS
  • Tyler Wilson, QB: Like Alabama, Arkansas’ offense would suffer without Wilson, who enters the fall as the league’s top quarterback. Wilson not only has elite skill but he’s an exceptional game manager. Backup Brandon Mitchell has game reps under his belt, but he’s still unproven and has spent fall camp working at receiver. Redshirt freshman Brandon Allen could be the future of the position, but is he ready to guide Arkansas through the SEC West?
AUBURN
  • Emory Blake, WR: Blake is one of the league’s best receivers and without him, Auburn lacks a true game-changing receiving threat. The Tigers have depth at wide receiver, but no one has made close to the impact Blake has in the Tigers’ offense. Without him, Auburn’s quarterback might have trouble finding a consistent target outside of tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
FLORIDA
  • Mike Gillislee, RB: While he’s had an up-and-down career as a backup thus far, Gillislee has a ton of support from his coaches, who think he’s Florida’s most important offensive player. Florida has two young QBs working this fall and they’ll need all they can get from the running game to help ease the pressure. Gillislee is the best option at running back and without him the Gators would be in trouble.
GEORGIA
  • Kenarious Gates, OT: Aaron Murray might be the face of the program, but the coaches like the potential backup Hutson Mason has. The offensive line, on the other hand, has little room for error and Gates is Georgia’s most talented and versatile lineman. If he were to go down, the Dawgs would have to reorganize an already fragile line and would lose its linchpin up front, causing the offense to regress.
KENTUCKY
  • Larry Warford, OG: Like Georgia, Kentucky can’t afford to lose anyone up front, especially not Warford. He’s the Wildcats’ best lineman and has the ability to move around if needed. This offense already has its issues and there are too many young, inexperienced bodies up front. Losing a talented vet like Warford could cost Kentucky’s offense a lot.
LSU
  • Eric Reid, S: The loss of the Honey Badger will sting, but to lose Reid as well means LSU would be without two All-American talents in its secondary. Reid takes the deep ball away and can make plays all over the field. Take him out of the lineup, and the Tigers would have to turn to sophomore Ronald Martin, who filled in when Reid was hurt last year, and redshirt frosh Micah Eugene.
MISSISSIPPI STATE
  • Gabe Jackson, OG: The Bulldogs’ left guard is the most talented lineman on the team, and if last season proved anything, this line can’t afford to lose a key piece. Injuries rocked this line and Mississippi State’s offense last season. Losing Jackson, who has started 26 games, might be even worse for the Bulldogs and might cause the offense to take another dip in production.
MISSOURI
  • James Franklin, QB: He enjoyed a breakout season last year and enters his first season in the SEC as the Tigers’ most experienced quarterbacks. He’s probably the SEC’s best dual-threat QB as well. Offensive coordinator David Yost said Franklin is so important to Mizzou’s offensive scheme because he’s such a good runner and passer and understands the offense better than anyone. Losing him would put a dent in the Tigers’ first SEC season.
OLE MISS
  • Randall Mackey, WR: The former quarterback has quickly become very popular with Ole Miss’ coaches. They think he’s the Rebels’ most versatile offensive player and could be a nightmare for defenses to defend this fall. He’ll lineup all over, and the Rebels just don’t have anyone else who fits in the offense like Mackey.
SOUTH CAROLINA
  • Connor Shaw, QB: He’s turning more and more into the quarterback Steve Spurrier wants for his offense. Losing him now would be devastating, especially with the unproven players at wide receiver. The Gamecocks have depth at quarterback, but neither Andrew Clifford nor Dylan Thompson have much game experience at all.
TENNESSEE
  • Tyler Bray, QB: The Vols found out the hard way what life would be like without Bray in the lineup last year. Matt Sims and Justin Worley struggled mightily in relief, as the Vols went 1-4 without Bray. During that span, Tennessee scored more than seven points just once. Worley has grown and has solid weapons to work with, but not having Bray could cost Tennessee yet another bowl appearance.
TEXAS A&M
  • Luke Joeckel, OT: He’s one of the league’s top left tackles and is a future first-round draft pick. For a team working with young, inexperienced quarterbacks, losing Joeckel would be devastating. And experience is lacking behind him, as redshirt freshman Nathan Gutekunst is listed the No. 2 left tackle on the depth chart. You might see some rearranging in order to make up for the loss of Joeckel.
VANDERBILT
  • Wesley Johnson, OT: The left tackle is easily Vanderbilt’s top lineman. He can move around if needed and is more than solid at the most important position up front. The Commodores are already struggling with depth along the line, so having to replace Johnson would definitely halt its development and would set Vandy’s offense back in 2012.

DawgNation links: State of the brand

August, 14, 2012
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David Ching writes: Having survived more than a decade of helming a college football program, a head coach like Mark Richt is bound to have an irrevocable connection to the state of the team’s brand.

Kipp Adams writes: Georgia is on a recruiting roll as summer yields to fall. On Tuesday, juco safety Shaquille Fluker decided he’d join the Bulldogs, bringing their Class of 2013 to a whopping 26 members.

Ching Insider: While shoring up the starters on the O-line was the prevailing theme of spring practice, the page turns at fall camp and now creating depth on the left side is the staff’s new focus.

Radi Nabulsi: DawgNation on the radio.

Nabulsi: Quayvon Hicks video interview.
Barrett JonesNed Dishman/Getty ImagesA move to center shouldn't slow Alabama's Barrett Jones, last season's Outland Trophy winner.
Our preseason SEC position rankings continue with the big uglies. The real muscle down in the trenches. Offensive lines are crucial in every level of football, but teams seriously do live and die by the play of their offensive lines in the SEC.

Past rankings:
On to the SEC's offensive line groups:

1. Alabama: Four starters return (with 95 combined starts), there's size, there's athleticism and this line just screams first-round NFL talent, starting with mammoth tackle D.J. Fluker and guard Chance Warmack. Reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones is moving to center, but with his versatility he should excel there. Add former top recruit Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle and this is arguably the country's top offensive line.

2. LSU: Like Alabama, this line is full of experience, as four starters return and so does Josh Dworaczyk, who was granted a sixth-year after a knee injury caused him to miss all of 2011. Some think he was LSU's best lineman before last season began. Tackles Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst are two of the best in the league and center P.J. Lonergan is tough to beat. Former highly-touted recruit La'El Collins should also contend for time this fall, too.

3. Texas A&M: This could be the strength of the team. Left tackle Luke Joeckel is a future first-rounder, while right tackle Jake Mathews has All-SEC potential. Senior center Patrick Lewis provides a very sturdy anchor in the middle. Guards Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi are young, but both got good experience last year, as Harrison started five games and Ogbuehi started six. Depth could be an issue, as most reserves are younger.

4. Arkansas: The Hogs have one of the better center-guard combos in the league in Travis Swanson and Alvin Bailey. Both have received preseason accolades and should be even better in 2012. Sophomore tackle Brey Cook came in with a lot of hype and if he develops in his second season, this line will be really good. Sophomore Mitch Smothers proved he can play just about anywhere and big left tackle Jason Peacock is back, but is still in the doghouse after his arrest this spring.

5. South Carolina: Replacing Rokevious Watkins at left tackle won't be easy, but the staff feels like redshirt freshman Brandon Shell might be the man for the job. He's incredibly talented and athletic and improved his blocking ability during his redshirt year. Center T.J. Johnson and guard A.J. Cann are coming off of solid seasons, but the right side has questions. Right tackle Mike Matulis started five games last year, but missed spring while recovering from shoulder surgery and right guard Ronald Patrick recorded zero starts last year.

6. Tennessee: The good news is that everyone is back. The bad news is this is the same line that was incredibly inconsistent last year in the run game, as Tennessee ranked 116th in rushing offense. However, the staff feels it has a better lineup with the emergence of sophomore Antonio Richardson at left tackle. Stud Dallas Thomas moves to left guard and Ja'Wuan James, who has started 25 games at right tackle, provides some good stability. The line has 99 combined starts and allowed just 18 sacks last year, but the proving ground with this group is establishing that it can come off the ball and be a better running team.

7. Missouri: The Tigers lost three starters from last year, but that doesn't mean Mizzou is without experience. Old man Elvis Fisher was granted a sixth year after last year's season-ending knee injury and will provide a major boost at left tackle. And three other linemen return with starting experience from last year: tackle Justin Britt, who took over Fisher's spot last year, and guards Jack Meiners and Travis Ruth. One thing to keep an eye on is the line's durability. The average weight of this group is roughly 295 pounds.

8. Auburn: Three starters return to a line that has a ton of young depth. Center Reese Dismukes is the anchor and one of the top centers in the league. Guard John Sullen and tackle Chad Slade combined for 21 starts last year. The staff really likes redshirt freshman Greg Robinson at left tackle and former top recruit Christian Westerman will compete for time after sitting out last year. Guard Eric Mack made strides this spring before he was shot near the hip during the tragic shooting that occurred near Auburn's campus in June.

9. Mississippi State: Injuries and constant reshuffling along the line caused the Bulldogs' offense to struggle for most of last season. Three starters are gone, but junior guard Gabe Jackson, who is one of the league's best, is back and so is right guard Tobias Smith. If Smith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early last year, is healthy, this line should be very strong along the interior. Dillon Day started six games last year and returns at center, while junior college transfers Charles Siddoway and Dylan Holley are pushing for time.

10. Florida: The Gators return four starters to a line that struggled all last season. Will Muschamp said he saw vast improvement up front this spring, but tackles Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan must show more consistency and leadership. Jonotthan Harrison is solid at center and guard Jon Halapio has improved each year. Sophomore tackle Chaz Green and impressive early enrollee D.J. Humphries will compete for time as well.

[+] EnlargeKenarious Gates
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.com Georgia may have O-line questions, but likely none concerning junior Kenarious Gates.
11. Georgia: Yet again the Bulldogs have questions up front. Junior Kenarious Gates is very versatile and athletic and is Georgia's most reliable lineman. The staff was pleased with guards Dallas Lee and Chris Burnette coming out of spring, but a lot is riding on sophomore David Andrews making it at center. If he has to move, Burnette will have to move to center and more reshuffling will come. Inexperience is worrisome and true freshman John Theus should get plenty of chances to take one of the tackle spots.

12. Vanderbilt: Thanks to offensive line coach Herb Hand, this group was one of the most improved in the league last year. He'll have a tall task again with a lot of youth and inexperience. Left tackle Wesley Johnson is one of the most underrated linemen out there, while Ryan Seymour has been solid up front. The right side has issues and the depth is a concern. Injuries made it tough for this line to get through spring practice, and six freshmen are coming in to compete for spots during fall camp.

13. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost three starters from a line that struggled throughout 2011, but vets Larry Warford and Matt Smith are back to provide a solid center-guard combo. However, they'll be asked to help a cluster of youngsters. The left side is gone and will be replaced by youngsters Zach West (redshirt freshman) and Darrian Miller (sophomore). Right tackle Kevin Mitchell started just one game last year. Any sort of injury up front would be devastating for the Cats.

14. Ole Miss: This is arguably the Rebels' weakest position. Hugh Freeze wasn't thrilled with the line this spring, continuing to say it didn't handle the offense's tempo well. Guard Matt Hall, who had double-digit starts last year, left the team this spring. Center Evan Swindall was Ole Miss' most consistent lineman this spring, while senior A.J. Hawkins moved to guard. Comfort was an issue for everyone, and the tackle spots were filled this spring by Emmanuel McCray, who missed all of last season, and JUCO transfer Pierce Burton.

DawgNation links: D-line bolsters O-line

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
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David Ching writes Insider: Going up against Georgia's brick-wall veteran defense is daunting, but this spring it made the young, suspect O-line better, in turn helping the entire offense become more prepared for the 2012 season.

Georgia spring wrap

May, 15, 2012
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2011 overall record: 10-4
2011 conference record: 7-1 (T-1st)
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners:

QB Aaron Murray, OLB Jarvis Jones, S Bacarri Rambo, S Shawn Williams, LB Alec Ogletree, RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Tavarres King, N John Jenkins, CB Sanders Commings, DE Abry Jones

Key losses:

OT Cordy Glenn, C Ben Jones, CB Brandon Boykin, TE Orson Charles, K Blair Walsh, P Drew Butler, OT Justin Anderson, DE DeAngelo Tyson

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Isaiah Crowell* (850 yards)
Passing: Aaron Murray* (3,149 yards)
Receiving: Tavarres King* (705 yards)
Tackles: Shawn Williams* (72)
Sacks: Jarvis Jones* (13.5)
Interceptions: Bacarri Rambo* (8)

Spring answers

1. Mitchell joins defense: Georgia’s coaching staff planned to experiment with receiver Malcolm Mitchell as a two-way player even before several members of the Bulldogs’ secondary ran into disciplinary trouble. Now Mitchell’s services are a necessity on defense rather than a luxury. He will probably play defense almost exclusively in the first few games and convinced his coaches that he should fare well there after becoming one of the Bulldogs’ breakout offensive stars last year as a freshman.

2. Washington, Drew shift to end: Georgia’s depth was a bit thin at defensive end, but outside linebackers Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew cross-trained there during spring practice, which should also bolster the Bulldogs’ pass rush off the edge. Washington lamented that he was picking up the position slowly during the spring, but he had worked his way into a starting position and earned widespread praise for his work at end by the G-Day game.

3. Tight end turnover: With Orson Charles leaving Georgia after his junior year and Aron White and Bruce Figgins exhausting their eligibility, one of the Bulldogs’ least experienced positions is tight end. However, Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome made it clear that the position is still in good hands. Rome, ESPN’s top-rated tight end in the 2011 signing class, caught a 66-yard touchdown in the final minute of the G-Day game.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line: Coach Will Friend began determining a pecking order on his rebuilt line this spring, but the competition will likely carry over into the season. When the Bulldogs closed spring practice, Kenarious Gates and Kolton Houston manned the tackle spots with Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee at guard and David Andrews at center. That lineup is subject to change, particularly with stud offensive line signee John Theus set to join the competition when he arrives this summer. Mark Beard, Watts Dantzler and Austin Long are also worth watching.

2. Special teams: Not only was Georgia’s kick coverage incompetent last season -- the Bulldogs were 116th nationally in punt return yardage defense and 88th against kickoffs -- but the Bulldogs must replace longtime starting kicker and punter Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. The Bulldogs signed Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber to take over for the departed kickers and Coach Mark Richt promised that the Bulldogs will work more on live kicking situations in preseason camp than perhaps any previous time in his tenure.

3. Secondary: This appears to be a temporary problem, with starters Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo and Branden Smith facing possible disciplinary suspensions to open the season. Mitchell’s shift to cornerback will help Damian Swann and Devin Bowman hold down the position until Commings and Smith return. Depth will also be an early issue at safety without Rambo. Commings, who will sit out the first two games, has safety experience, but few other Bulldogs have played significant downs at the position besides Rambo and Shawn Williams. Corey Moore is a player to watch here.

DawgNation links: Meet Ky Priester

April, 27, 2012
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Radi Nabulsi writes Insider: Sunshine State receiver and UGA commit Ky Priester endured more than a year of frustration with an injury, and a difficult home life. Then he moved to Georgia and his whole world opened up -- on the football field.

Nabulsi Insider: In this week's team mailbag, DawgNation answers questions about the offensive line and the diamonds in the rough, as well as UGA's drug policy.

David Ching writes: Surprisingly, no Bulldogs were selected in first round Thursday night, after projections pointed to versatile offensive lineman Cordy Glenn going in the top 20. Now Glenn waits with the rest of UGA’s draft-hungry alum for Friday’s Rounds 2-3.

Nabulsi Insider: Defensive lineman Jay Woods covets his 20th offer, which came from his childhood favorite Georgia Bulldogs.
At first glance, it appears that Georgia has all the parts needed to make another title run in the SEC this fall.

A quality quarterback is assisted by some talented skill players on the offensive side of the ball. And the defense is loaded with just about everyone who was a part of the nation’s fifth-ranked defense last year.

But upon closer examination, there is a glaring issue on the offensive line. Well, maybe there was.

Entering the spring, Georgia was down three starters up front, including potential NFL first-round draft pick Cordy Glenn at left tackle and All-SEC center Ben Jones.

The Bulldogs had the bodies, but not the experience, and it showed early. Georgia coach Mark Richt said he spent the first part of spring just trying to find the right pieces to plug in. He was constantly rolling different players in at center and experimenting with putting players in different places along the line.

The result: a lot of mistakes and some pretty good defensive highlights.

Richt said all of the stunts and different looks that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham threw at the Bulldogs’ line of young pups confused and frustrated the line. Things didn’t move smoothly on offense at first because the offensive line wasn’t comfortable.

“The bottom line was we just weren’t blocking very good and we weren’t handling our mature defensive line,” Richt said Tuesday.

But like good things, even bad things come to an end. And they did for Georgia’s line.

As the spring continued, players started to get more settled up front. By the midpoint of the spring, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he found three reliable linemen in tackles Kenarious Gates and Kolton Houston, and guard Chris Burnette. Leaving spring, the staff found five that it could call starters, with the additions of rising sophomore David Andrews at center and Dallas Lee, who started seven games last season before breaking his right leg against Florida, at guard

Gates might be the best of the bunch because of his athleticism and smarts. Richt said he has the option of moving Gates around on the line because he has the ability to play just about every position up there.

But the player who really stuck out to Richt and his staff was Houston. Richt said Houston was always viewed as either a guard or a center prospect until this spring when they threw him in at tackle and watched him excel.

“He held up pretty good, especially in the pass protection area,” Richt said. “I don’t know if you can sell the big mauler out there in the run game, but a big part of being able to play tackle is being able to pass [protect] and he did a nice job.”

While Richt saw improvement as spring continued, he’ll also get some more talent in two incoming freshmen, including top tackle prospect John Theus, so Georgia’s depth will look a little better this fall. Getting guys more reps and game ready is the main goal in fall camp.

DawgNation links: Roundtable

April, 18, 2012
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DawgNation Staff Insider: Roundtable -- With several question marks remaining after the spring game, this week's DawgNation Roundtable discussion covers some of the unresolved issues in Athens. What is the biggest question mark for the Bulldogs coming out of spring practice?

Radi Nabulsi: G-Day game photo gallery
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s football team has the talent to have a very special fall, but the spring has come with unwanted hiccups.

Georgia has dealt with too much suspension and attrition. The most glaring issue for the Bulldogs is that they’ll be without defensive starters Sanders Commings, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo and Branden Smith to begin the season due to suspensions.

The losses of key starters, especially Commings, Rambo and Smith, who all patrol a pretty thin secondary, have Georgia players and coaches frustrated, but they’re pushing ahead as the second half of spring football bleeds into the true offseason.

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
AP Photo/Stephen MortonSuspensions will leave Mark Richt thin in the secondary to begin the 2012 season.
“It robs some of the momentum that you’re trying to build and trying to create,” coach Mark Richt said. “It doesn’t destroy it unless you let it, but it’s just another thing that needs to be overcome.”

Georgia has had a rash of off-the-field incidents in the past calendar year, and when asked if he thought there was an invincibility complex with some of his players, Richt said he hoped not, but didn’t think that there was a discipline problem with his football team.

“The bottom line is that if there are things that need to be disciplined around here, we’ll discipline them,” he said. “We don’t treat a starter any different than a walk-on. We’ll discipline even if it hurts -- and it hurts sometimes.”

Georgia’s coaches are now having to plug more young players into first-team rotations on defense. While the Bulldogs have a handful of players to use at Ogletree’s middle linebacker spot, the same can’t be said for the secondary.

Georgia had to dip into its offense to get help at cornerback by inserting rising sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, who is coming off a solid SEC debut in 2011. Mitchell has received most of his work on defense this spring, and the consensus is that he’s taking hold of his new position, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo isn’t ready to totally give Mitchell up to Todd Grantham and Georgia’s defense.

“I don’t plan on losing Malcolm Mitchell,” Bobo said.

In the meantime, Mitchell is looking to help a relatively young secondary in Athens. Coaches and players agreed that two youngsters currently standing out are Corey Moore and Damian Swann.

The depth in the secondary isn’t ideal, but Grantham said he isn’t concerned about numbers, or talent. He’s just looking for the development, and it’s slowly coming.

“The guys that we’ve got here are capable,” Grantham said.

Mitchell’s absence on offense also means that Bobo and quarterback Aaron Murray are both looking for more from younger wide receivers. Murray gushed about rising seniors Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, who Murray said finally looks like he’s putting things together and is actually healthy. Bobo and Murray both stated that sophomores-to-be Michael Bennett and Chris Conley should continue to be reliable targets this fall.

But one player really sticking out to Richt is redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley. Though he sat out last fall and split time between track and throwing sessions before spring practice, Scott-Wesley has really impressed with his speed and athletic ability.

“He’s a track guy, but he’s a big, strong, physical guy,” Richt said. “He’s going to help out a lot this season. There’s no doubt about it.”

Where Georgia would really like to get more consistent this spring is on the offensive line. Bobo sees a lot of bodies there, but he’s still worried about depth. Right now, he likes what he’s seen from Kenarious Gates, Kolton Houston and Chris Burnette, but after that it’s a bit of a mystery.

Bobo said the second half of spring will be crucial to finding capable depth up front.

“We have three guys we feel good about,” he said. “We’re looking to find some depth. We’re actually trying to find five (linemen who can play).”

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