SEC: Kwame Geathers

ATHENS, Ga. -- Like former Georgia teammate Zach Mettenberger a week before him, Aaron Murray wanted to prove that he’s close to full health at the Bulldogs’ pro day on Wednesday -- his first public passing session since tearing his left ACL last November.

Although he didn’t attempt more than 100 throws like Mettenberger did at LSU’s pro day last week, Murray’s battery of agility drills and a wide range of drops, rollouts and throws showed that he should be physically ready to compete when his future team opens rookie camp.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/John BazemoreAt Wednesday's pro day, Aaron Murray didn't show ill affects from his November ACL injury.
“I think I’ve shown everyone that they don’t have to worry about my injury, that it’s not going to stop me from being able to compete this year,” Murray said. “Now it’s just a matter of what teams like me, what teams don’t and is one going to draft me.”

Murray completed 48 of 54 throws with three drops in Wednesday’s passing session, which was directed by quarterback guru and former NFL assistant Terry Shea. Among Shea’s previous pre-draft clients are No. 1 overall picks Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford and No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III.

“I thought it went very well,” Shea said. “In four weeks that we’ve been together, I’ve never seen him favor that knee or anything. So I’m really excited that he’s healthy.”

In fact, Murray is apparently ahead of schedule in his recovery. Trevor Moawad, vice president at the EXOS/Athletes’ Performance facilities where Murray conducted his offseason workouts, said the training staff followed a similar rehab schedule as they did with Bradford, who was also coming off an injury when preparing for the 2010 draft.

“I think he’s ahead of probably where he should be at this time and I think come May 8 after the draft, I think he’s going to be able to show up at a team and be right where he needs to be,” Moawad said.

Murray was the featured attraction at Wednesday’s sparsely attended pro day, which represented a significant change from last year, when the Bulldogs had eight players drafted -- four in the first 85 picks -- and three more who made NFL rosters as undrafted free agents.

Murray (No. 129) is the only Bulldog listed among ESPN’s top 150 draft prospects, and only he and tight end Arthur Lynch received invitations to the NFL combine. Nonetheless, 15 former Bulldogs worked out Wednesday before the 23 NFL teams that had representatives on hand -- many of whom still harbor hopes of becoming late-round selections or undrafted free agents.

That group included offensive guards Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee, both of whom snapped to the quarterbacks during passing drills, showing off what they hope teams will view as positional versatility.

“I feel like you get to the next level, they want to have a guy who’s a swingman, who can play multiple positions,” said Burnette, rated by ESPN as the draft’s No. 19 guard prospect. “I don’t want to limit myself to guard. I’ve had a little bit of experience playing center, so I tried to focus on my snaps and stuff like that during this time off. I think it was good for me to be able to do that.”

Another player hoping to catch an NFL club’s eye was defensive lineman Garrison Smith, who ranked fourth on the team with 63 tackles and added six sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. Smith is hardly a flashy player, but said scouts who pay close attention to his performances on film will see an NFL-caliber player.

“I can do it all. I can look good in a T-shirt, I can look good in the birthday suit, it don’t matter. But I’m a football player,” joked Smith, rated by ESPN as the No. 34 defensive tackle prospect. “When them pads get on, it gets real serious. In them trenches, ask about me down there. I’ve got a lot of respect down there and I made a lot of plays.

“Look at game film, look at my stats. I had good games against good teams this year. I didn’t have no amazing games against teams that they say were less of opponents. I had good games against Florida, LSU, Tennessee. They’re supposed to have one of the best offensive lines in the country. Watch the film. That’s all I want people to see: I’m a good player.”

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt agreed with his former player’s assessment, noting that he would not be surprised to see Smith find a way to stick on an NFL roster like the three undrafted Bulldogs -- receiver Marlon Brown and defensive linemen Kwame Geathers and Abry Jones -- did a year ago.

“People will see his film. They’ll see his productivity,” Richt said. “From what I’m hearing, if he doesn’t get drafted, he’s going to get into a camp and get a chance to make it. We had Geathers last year didn’t get drafted and made a team. We had Abry Jones, I don’t think he was drafted [and] he made a team. I’m hoping he gets drafted, but if he doesn’t, he’ll get in camp and I think he’ll find a way to stick.”

UGA D-line seeks more consistency

September, 6, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Like most of Georgia's defense, the Bulldogs' line had its moments of competence -- and even solid play -- in last Saturday's season-opening loss at Clemson.

The problem across the board was that there weren't enough of those moments, and the line knows it must turn in a more consistent performance with South Carolina's physical rushing attack on tap Saturday.

“We didn't tackle that good in the last game, so we're just trying to come out and just get ready for South Carolina,” Georgia defensive end Toby Johnson said. “Them boys, they like to run the ball a lot, so obviously we've got to tackle.”

Led by tailback Mike Davis, who might have wound up at Georgia had Todd Gurley not committed to the Bulldogs first, South Carolina pounded North Carolina for 228 rushing yards and 6 yards per carry in last week's opener. Included in Davis' 115 rushing yards was a 75-yard touchdown run that cemented the Gamecocks' 27-10 victory.

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s tough,” Georgia nose guard Mike Thornton said of Davis, his former teammate at Atlanta's Stephenson High School. “He’s a tough runner.”

To contend with Davis' power running and South Carolina's NFL-sized offensive line, Georgia's defensive front also must be tougher following its uneven results in Week 1.

[+] EnlargeGarrison Smith
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGarrison Smith, a 6-foot-3, 299-pound senior, is now listed as Georgia's starting nose guard.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Clemson ran 36 times on designed runs inside the tackles for 158 yards (4.4 YPC) and a touchdown last Saturday. That number would look more impressive were it not for a 36-yard run by Rod McDowell in the fourth quarter to set up Clemson's final touchdown.

“We swarmed to the ball as a defense, especially our linebackers, but for the most part we missed a lot of big tackles,” Johnson said. “That goes with me, I missed a big sack. So we've just got to wrap up and keep our head up and keep your feet.”

Considering that it was the first college game for a couple of Georgia linemen and the first heavy dose of playing time for a couple more, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he actually came away feeling encouraged after watching film of the group's debut effort.

“I thought there was some good things. At times they were stout and did the things we had to do. We’re so young, we’ve got to continue to work on our techniques and our fundamentals to be consistent in our play,” Grantham said. “I walked away thinking that if we can build on this, we’ll be fine. And really I walked away as that for the whole unit from that standpoint after watching the tape.”

The Bulldogs practiced in full pads Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to work more on shedding blocks and tackling. They also shuffled their depth chart, placing Garrison Smith as the starting nose guard and Sterling Bailey and Josh Dawson as the starting ends, although Grantham insisted that making a fuss over players' positional labels is “so overrated” in his scheme that shifts between a traditional 3-4 base defense and a nickel look that deploys four players along the line.

Nonetheless, Smith played in the interior of the line for much of the Clemson game and felt he performed well, even if his 299-pound frame is considerably smaller than Georgia's 2012 nose men, John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers.

“I ain’t the size of a double-wide trailer like John Jenkins and Kwame. I’m like a dually [truck] and they’re like an 18-wheeler ... a big Mack truck, Freightliners,” Smith said. “It’s a big difference between our sizes, but I just do it the best I can.”

It should help that new line coach Chris Wilson seems prepared to follow through on his plan to use more players up front. Thornton said the Clemson game was “was the most we’ve ever rotated since I’ve been here.”

And it made a difference in the players' energy levels, as Clemson's offensive play count built and the game reached its latter stages.

“It’s a noticeable difference when you know you’ve got somebody that can come in and play a couple snaps for you, and you don’t have to worry about getting so winded and getting so tired,” Smith said. “You can get a couple plays off and be able to go back in and be able to keep playing hard.”

Whoever is in the game along Georgia's line will have one main challenge come Saturday. South Carolina arrives each week planning to dominate the line of scrimmage, and the Bulldogs must play a tougher, more consistent brand of defense if they are to end a three-game losing streak against the Gamecocks.

“Something that’s going to pop up on the film whenever you look at it and just see how big and physical they are,” Dawson said. “You’ve just got to match them.”
National signing day might have come and gone, but that didn't stop Georgia from adding to its already stout 2013 recruiting class.

Almost two weeks after the most important recruiting day of the year, the Bulldogs signed Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Toby Johnson, who is the nation's No. 4 prospect in the ESPN Junior College 100. He gives Georgia 33 signees in its 2013 class.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Johnson picked Georgia over Auburn and Mississippi State.

"I called Mark Richt last night and told him I was coming," Johnson said. "He was fired up. They want me to play defensive end, but I will move inside in the nickel package."

The addition of Johnson, who finished the year with 37 tackles, three sacks and four pass breakups in nine games, is big for the Bulldogs, who lost starting nose guard John Jenkins, along with Kwame Geathers, Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington up front. Georgia was in desperate need of some depth up front, and Johnson gives the Dawgs someone who can immediately help out.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wanted to play more defensive linemen last season, and he might get his way in 2013 after Georgia signed seven defensive line prospects in this year's recruiting class. But Johnson might be the best of the bunch with his versatility. It also doesn't hurt that he has some post-high school playing experience.

With all the struggles Georgia's defense had against the run last season, the addition of Johnson will give Grantham a chance to rotate more players up front, keeping guys much fresher this fall.

Johnson is rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, suffered in November, but he said that his injury shouldn't limit him when he reports this summer.

“I plan to enroll June 6, and I do not plan to redshirt,” Johnson said. “It feels great to be a Dawg.”

SEC lunch links

January, 10, 2013
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Back from sunny South Florida. Let's do the links thing:

Pregame: Capital One Bowl

January, 1, 2013
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Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) vs. Nebraska (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten)

Who to Watch: Considering that the two defenses in the Capital One Bowl rank 95th (Nebraska at 194.9 rushing yards allowed per game) and 77th (Georgia, 177.8 ypg) against the run, we recommend that you keep an eye on the respective teams’ running threats.

The run is particularly important for Nebraska, which ranks eighth nationally in rushing offense at 254.5 yards per game. Quarterback Taylor Martinez (175 attempts, 973 yards, 10 TDs) and running backs Ameer Abdullah (219-1,089, 8 TDs) and Rex Burkhead (74-535, 4 TDs) present a major threat for a Bulldogs defense that has surrendered 300-plus rushing yards in three straight games.

Georgia’s offense is more balanced than Nebraska’s -- the Bulldogs average 274.2 passing yards and 184.2 rushing yards per game -- but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will no doubt try to set up his passing game with his dynamite one-two punch of freshman tailbacks, Todd Gurley (199-1,260, 16 TDs) and Keith Marshall (109-723, 8 TDs). Marshall has two touchdown runs of 70-plus yards this season, providing the home-run threat out of the backfield that the Bulldogs have lacked for several years.

What to Watch: Georgia’s defensive front against Nebraska’s offensive line. The Cornhuskers have a pair of All-Big Ten offensive linemen in guard Spencer Long and tackle Jeremiah Sirles, but center Justin Jackson is out with an injured ankle. Their backup center, either Mark Pelini or Cole Pensick, will not have to go up against Georgia’s senior All-SEC nose guard, John Jenkins, who will miss the game after being declared academically ineligible last week. But they’ll hardly get much of a break in having to block 6-foot-6, 355-pound nose Kwame Geathers, who will replace Jenkins in the starting lineup.

Nonetheless, after getting shredded by Alabama’s powerful running game, Georgia’s defensive line will be subject to close observation against Nebraska’s talented runners.

Why Watch? The Capital One Bowl is traditionally one of the highest-profile non-BCS bowl games and this one fits the bill. No. 7 Georgia came within five yards of upsetting Alabama and playing for the BCS title. No. 16 Nebraska could have played in the Rose Bowl before laying an egg against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Surprisingly enough, though, these teams have only played once before despite their positions as two of the winningest programs in college football history. Nebraska’s 45-6 win over the Bulldogs in the 1969 Sun Bowl still ranks as the worst bowl loss in Georgia history.

Prediction: Nebraska is going to score, but can it score enough to keep up with Georgia? The Cornhuskers have played six games against teams that rank in the nation’s top 50 in scoring offense. They went 3-3 in those games and allowed an average of 39.5 points per game. And here’s the kicker. Georgia boasts the highest-scoring offense Nebraska has faced this season, as the Bulldogs rank 19th nationally in scoring at 37.2 points per game. Georgia 38, Nebraska 24.

Georgia bowl X factor

January, 1, 2013
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We're taking a look at Georgia's X factor for the Bulldogs' matchup with Nebraska in today's Capital One Bowl:

X FACTOR

Kwame Geathers, Jr., NG: With big man John Jenkins academically ineligible for today's game, Geathers steps in to try and clog the middle of Georgia's line against a very, very good running team. Nebraska led the Big Ten and ranked eighth nationally with 254.5 rushing yards per game. The Huskers are averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and run the ball almost 50 times a game. Georgia has to stop Nebraska's ground game or it's going to be a long day for the Bulldogs' defense.

Georgia enters the game with one of the SEC's worst rushing defenses, as the Bulldogs surrendered 177.8 yards on the ground per game. That was good enough for 12th in the SEC. Georgia is fresh off giving up 350 rushing yards to Alabama in the SEC championship and can't afford to get sloppy again up front because this defense will just wear down as the game goes on. That means Geathers, who has five tackles for loss on the year, has to get push up front to disrupt Nebraska's elite running game. Nebraska running backs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah and quarterback Taylor Martinez combined for 2,597 rushing yards this season, so getting some pressure up the middle and clogging things up front will be key for Georgia's defense, as it looks to slow down the Huskers. Geathers isn't as wide as Jenkins, but he's taller and has a ton of strength. If he can slow plays up the middle, Georgia's defense should tire out like it did against Alabama.

DawgNation links: Bennett lost for season

October, 3, 2012
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Radi Nabulsi writes: A torn ACL, which happened during Tuesday's practice, will put Georgia's leading wide receiver Michael Bennett on the bench for the rest of the season.

David Ching writes: Bennett's loss is a blow to Georgia's offense.

Ching: Aaron Murray spent the entire offseason focusing on honing every tool in his impressive skill set – so much so that now, when the Georgia quarterback watches film from the 2011 loss to South Carolina, he shrinks in dismay at just how bad he was, and how much his mistakes cost his team.

Kipp Adams writes Insider: Georgia-South Carolina recruiting battles are border wars.

Radi Nabulsi writes: With an eye on redemption against South Carolina, which every Bulldog has in mind, defensive end Abry Jones is nursing a sprained ankle but says it’s part of the game and he’ll play through the pain.

Ching Insider: Practice notebook. Georgia’s often questioned offensive line faces its most stringent test this weekend when it lines up to protect Aaron Murray from the touted South Carolina defense.

DawgNation links: D-line a downer

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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David Ching writes Insider: With four returning starters up front, Mark Richt expected the Bulldogs to boast a better defensive line than it showed against Buffalo.

Radi Nabulsi: UGA players Michael Bennett, Aaron Murray, Christian Robinson, Richard Samuel and John Jenkins join head coach Mark Richt in discussing what they learned about their team after the first game against Buffalo.

Ching: With star freshman John Theus injured, what Georgia will do to shore up the O-line remains a question mark heading to Missouri.

Ching: 5 storylines -- Georgia Insider ...
Missouri Insider

Nabulsi: Class of 2014 DE Dante Sawyer turns heads

One good reason: Georgia

July, 23, 2012
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Our "One good reason" series is back, and we're looking at the Georgia Bulldogs.

Good reasons:
Let's see what the Bulldogs can do in 2012:

Georgia will win the SEC: The Bulldogs' defense is loaded.

The Bulldogs have some elite talent coming back on the defensive side of the ball. Ten starters return from a group that ranked fifth nationally in total defense last season. Sure, this team will likely be without four key starters -- safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerbacks Branden Smith and Sanders Commings, and linebacker Alec Ogletree -- at the beginning of the season because of suspension, but it's not like the Bulldogs lack capable bodies to fill in early. Malcolm Mitchell, who played cornerback in high school, moved over to corner this spring and should have an immediate impact, while sophomore Damian Swann has the potential to be a budding star, and he'll get his chance to show it early. Veteran Shawn Williams is still back at safety, as well.

And look at that front seven. Jarvis Jones leads a talented, experienced linebacking corps after being arguably the best at his position last year, racking up 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. The scary thing is he insists he'll be even better in 2012. What helps take some pressure off of him is the Bulldogs feel they have another solid pass rusher in Cornelius Washington, who moved from outside linebacker to defensive end. Fellow end Abry Jones had a very solid spring, while nose guards John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers should absolutely swallow up the middle. Getting Ogletree back will make this front group even better.

This group is big, athletic, fast and feels even more comfortable in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. Another top-10 finish is expected.

Why it won't: There too many questions with the running game.

Isaiah Crowell was never spectacular during his very short Georgia career, but he when he was at 100 percent and was all in for the Dawgs, he was the best option at running back. After making strides this spring he was dismissed in June after his arrest on felony gun charges. Now, the Bulldogs will turn to senior Richard Samuel, who has moved back to running back and has 768 career rushing yards, and a handful of youngsters, starting with sophomore Ken Malcome and frosh Keith Marshall. Malcome was used sparringly last season, but had a very productive spring, leaving as the co-starter at running back. Marshall enrolled early with a load of hype, but might be used more on the edge than up the middle. The Bulldogs are also hoping to get a lot out of incoming freshman Todd Gurley and junior Brandon Harton returns as well.

Right now, we don't know what Georgia will get out of this group. There is depth, but none of these backs are truly proven. Georgia ranked 49th in rushing last year with Crowell in the lineup, but in the biggest game of the year -- the SEC title game against LSU -- the Bulldogs mustered just 78 rushing yards -- most of which came in garbage time -- with Malcome leading the way with 37 yards.

Georgia will need much more than that to get to Atlanta and get out of the Georgia Dome with a win. The good news is that only two of Georgia's 2012 opponents ranked within the top 40 in rushing defense last year, in Missouri (30th) and Vanderbilt (36th), but expect Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee to be better against the run this fall. If the Bulldogs can't get the ground game going on a consistent basis and against better defenses, an SEC title will be hard to come by.
We all know that defense wins championships and the SEC is very much a testament to that. Alabama possessed the nation's No. 1 defense last season and now possesses another national championship. Runner-up LSU ranked second nationally.

Alabama ran away with the crown as the nation's and the SEC's best defense, but that title is for the taking in 2012. Alabama is down key players from last year's squad, like linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower, defensive tackle Josh Chapman, and defensive backs Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and DeQuan Menzie.

SportsNation

Who will have the best defense in 2012?

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Discuss (Total votes: 12,039)

Alabama's defense isn't as green as the 2010 group, but it's still drawing some comparisons to it. That's exactly what the Tide wants to hear. Nico Johnson seems primed to be a true leader at linebacker, while Adrian Hubbard could be a budding star at Upshaw's old position. Defensive backs Robert Lester and Dee Milliner are back and will be joined by a couple of JUCO standouts and talented sophomores Vinnie Sunseri and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix. Jesse Williams could be a real force at defensive tackle along with end Damion Square.

Then you have LSU. The Tigers lost All-World cornerback Morris Claiborne to the NFL draft and two starting linebackers. Michael Brockers is gone at defensive tackle as well. But LSU is still loaded. The Tigers return Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon, who should be fine with an expanded role at cornerback. Junior Kevin Minter really stepped up at linebacker last year and should pick up right where he left off. Even without Brockers, the line is solid with future first-rounder Sam Montgomery at one end position and the underrated Barkevious Mingo at the other. The two combined for 17 sacks last season.

Bennie Logan and Anthony Johnson should provide some meat nastiness in the interior, while the very talented Eric Reid is back at free safety.

Georgia and South Carolina both finished the 2011 season ranked in the top five nationally in total defense. South Carolina was third, while Georgia was fifth, respectively. The Gamecocks lost first-round defensive end Melvin Ingram, but return freshman standout Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, who many thought would be better than Ingram last season. Kelcy Quarles is back at defensive tackle and the coaches think he'll be even better in his second year.

Shaq Wilson and Reginald Bowens, who combined for 96 tackles last year, will grab time at linebacker again, while the very athletic DeVonte Holloman returns to the Spur for his senior year. There are questions in the secondary, but seniors D.J. Swearinger (safety) and Akeem Auguste (cornerback) return.

Georgia returns nine defensive starters. Brandon Boykin is gone at corner, and the Bulldogs will enter the fall with a lot questions in the secondary, especially with starters Branden Smith, Sanders Commings and Bacarri Rambo suspended to start the season. Star freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell moved to corner this spring and fits right in, but there are depth issues at the position.

Other than that, the Bulldogs are still pretty stacked. Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree will serve a suspension to start the year, but Georgia will fill his spot by committee. Mike Gilliard, Cornelius Washington, Christian Robinson, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson provide Georgia with a very solid linebacking unit alongside star Jarvis Jones, who racked up 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. Georgia's defensive line should also be pretty stout with the massive John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers battling in the middle. Abry Jones really progressed at end as well this spring.

Or maybe someone else will step up and take the crown ...

DawgNation links: Athlete is commit No. 14

April, 9, 2012
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Kipp Adams writesInsider: Athlete J.J. Green wasn't sure he would commit to the Bulldogs -- until he visited Georgia. The talented two-way player sealed the deal Monday with a verbal commitment.

Adams Insider: With three commits Friday, UGA's Class of 2013 is filling up fast. ESPN 150 Watch List member Reggie Carter didn't want to miss out, so he joined in Monday as the Bulldogs’ No. 13 commit.

Adams: DawgNation’s "Five guys" – a watch list of who’s next for potential in-state UGA offers.

Adams Insider: After being somewhat adamant in December that he wanted to play football anywhere but at home in Georgia, DL Montravius Adams is singing a different tune now.

David Ching writes Insider: With leaders including stalwart nose guards John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers, UGA's already impressive D-line is building on its strengths -- and terrorizing the O-line.

Ching Insider: Cornelius Washington is splitting time at DE this spring, and teammates and coaches expect him to be "a monster" once he gets comfortable in his dual role.

Radi Nabulsi: Georgia’s Abry Jones talks D-line and "chippy" spring practice.
ATHENS, Ga. -- It's never too late to put up some quick notes and thoughts after a visit to a college campus. While you should expect more from my day in Athens with the Georgia Bulldogs in the next few days, here are some notes and thoughts from my visit that really stood out to me:
  • Georgia players and coaches have every reason to be jumping ship and freaking out about with the recent suspensions of defenders Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Branden Smith and Alec Ogletree. Three of those players call the secondary their home, while one, Ogletree, looks like he's ready to be a real star at linebacker in this league. But the first thing you notice when patrolling Georgia's facilities is that everyone is calm and collected about the matter. Sure, players and coaches are pretty frustrated with the situation, but they have moved on. They are working together to find the pieces to replace those guys come the start of the season. Inside linebacker Christian Robinson said that Ogletree's spot is still wide open because the Bulldogs have so many options, and it doesn't sound like the coaches will really name a starter anytime soon. Don't forget that Mike Gilliard, who really came on last year as the season progressed, and Amarlo Herrera will get reps with Robinson at middle linebacker. Robinson also said rising sophomore Ramik Wilson is getting good reps at middle linebacker.
  • The secondary isn't exactly blooming with numbers, but defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he isn't concerned with the amount of bodies he has out there. He's happy with the production so far, but added that this group still has a ways to go, especially with three starters out to begin the 2012 season. Rising sophomores Damian Swann and Corey Moore have turned heads in practice. Swann looks like he'll grab one of the starting cornerback spots to start the season. Also, Malcolm Mitchell, who moved from wide receiver, is coming along more and more as the days go by, so there's no need for the Bulldogs to hit the panic button just yet.
  • Another player turning heads in practice this spring is nose guard Kwame Geathers. He and Jon Jenkins rotated in and out last season, and while both are expected to do the same this fall, linebacker Jarvis Jones said that he's been very impressed with Geathers, especially the shape he's in. He's still big, but Jones said he's moving better and more often. He also said that he's been gigging Jenkins about possibly losing time to Geathers because of how well he's doing. Georgia will really benefit from having both those players at full speed up front this fall.
  • The Bulldogs are pretty excited about true freshman running back Keith Marshall. The early enrollee had some iffy moments with the offense at first, but he seems to be progressing more and more with the playbook. Coaches are hoping that he and Isaiah Crowell can be a dynamic duo this fall. He's been impressive in open space, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he's improving his play between the tackles, which will really help Crowell when he tires. "His head's spinning a little bit right now, but he has a chance to be very special here," Bobo said of Marshall. "He's got great vision and isn't afraid to stick it up in there."
  • Speaking of Crowell, the consensus in Athens is that he's a new person and player. He's working harder and is taking his workouts and practices more seriously. The coaches haven't had to push him as hard this spring, like they did last summer. Quarterback Aaron Murray said he felt he had to baby Crowell at times last year, but hasn't had to say much in terms of pushing the sophomore-to-be this spring.
  • Another running back impressing is Ken Malcome. He almost transferred last season, but has really started to come along this spring. He's building off the bowl game in which he tied a carrier high with 12 carries and had a career-high 51 yards. "He had an awesome spring for us," Bobo said. "Really clued in to what we're doing more, more conscientious of about every little detail."
  • Murray is also looking to improve and really wants to calm things down with his play. He knows he was erratic at times last year, especially in big games. He won't change much to his regime, but wants to improve his mental reps and his thought process during plays. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to improve on my mistakes," Murray said. He also said he feels "10 times better" with his pocket mobility and footwork -- two areas that he said he struggled with the past two years. He's making sure that he keeps two hands on the ball when he runs, isn't chopping down and isn't in an awkward stance with the ball.
  • When talking with Georgia players it's easy to tell which game meant the most for the Bulldogs. Each one talked about how important the Florida win was for the season and the program. It not only gave Georgia's seniors a win over the Gators, but it helped put the Dawgs in cruise control on the way to the SEC championship game. Jones, who grew up a fan of both Florida and Georgia (very strange, I know) said he took it upon himself to make sure the Bulldogs came out with the win. He did his part with four sacks, including one that basically ended the game. Robinson said it was "the greatest feeling" he's had since his arrival. That win coupled with South Carolina's loss to Arkansas propelled Georgia into the SEC championship game.

John Jenkins staying at Georgia

December, 30, 2011
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After giving the NFL serious consideration, Georgia nose guard John Jenkins told reporters Friday that he will return to school for his senior season.

Jenkins sent in paperwork for an NFL evaluation earlier this month, but said Friday that he hasn't received a draft grade back and doesn't need one at this point.

“Unless it’s first round, then I’d be a dumb guy not to go out,” Jenkins told reporters. “But I don’t think that’s what I’m going to get. I think everybody knows I need to come back and polish up more with Coach [Rodney] Garner behind me. That’s what I need to do.”

Jenkins entered the season as a highly-touted junior college transfer, but it took him a while to adapt to major college football. Expected to start right away and be a force in the middle of Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense, Jenkins was slow coming out of the gate.

He was a backup to Kwame Geathers before starting six games. He enters the Outback Bowl against Michigan State as the starter at nose guard and has recorded 28 tackles, including six for loss, three sacks and 10 quarterback hurries.

There is no doubt that Jenkins looks physically ready for the NFL. At 6 feet 3 inches and 351 pounds, Jenkins has the size to fill quite the space on a NFL defensive line. He's also tremendously athletic and can be a force in both rushing and passing defense. Stopping the run is probably his best attribute with that kind of size.

The other thing about Jenkins is that he has grown and improved throughout the season. He flirted along the underachieving line during the first part of the season until the light went on. Once he got more comfortable in Grantham's defense, he became a solid player for the Bulldogs. Now, he's become an interior offensive lineman's nightmare.

This is pretty good news for Georgia. The Bulldogs will keep a key component to its defense with Jenkins returning and if he continues his upward swing, he could transform into a top draft prospect at his position.

Alec Ogletree returns for Dawgs

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
3:27
PM ET
The boost that Florida's offense is getting this weekend with the return of quarterback John Brantley is matched by the boost Georgia's defense will get with the return of inside linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Ogletree broke his right foot in the season opener against Boise State and hasn't played since. He's the Bulldogs' hardest hitter, the kind of big-play defender who can change a game with one blow and a piece of the puzzle that's been missing for the Bulldogs these past six games.

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will tell you that Ogletree was his best football player before the injury. If he's indeed all the way back, then he should take a Georgia defense that's steadily improved and played well in his absence to a defense capable of being dominant.

One of the keys to the Bulldogs' five-game winning streak has been how well they've held up defensively despite some of the injuries and the two-game suspension of junior outside linebacker Cornelius Washington, who's one of the team's best pass-rushers.

Washington is back this week, and along with Ogletree, should give the Bulldogs their most disruptive front seven since the season opener. Getting Ogletree and Washington back also helps counter not having noseguard Kwame Geathers and safety Shawn Williams for the first half against Florida after they were suspended by the SEC for their actions in the Vanderbilt game.

Overall, this is a mentally tougher Georgia defense than a year ago and a defense that has bought into Grantham's system and his physical approach. It's also a defense that should play with even more of an edge now that the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Ogletree is back in the middle.

SEC lunch links

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
12:07
PM ET
Welcome to our Thursday lunch links:

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12