SEC: Mark Beard

Georgia spring wrap

April, 30, 2014
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Three things we learned in the spring about the Georgia Bulldogs:

1. Mason is ready: After sitting behind Aaron Murray for four years, Hutson Mason is now the guy at quarterback. It won’t be easy following a legend, but Mason is ready to do his thing in Athens. He had a good spring, is extremely confident, filled with moxie, knows the offense, can make plays on the fly, and has all the trust in his teammates.

2. Gurley tough: Georgia running back Todd Gurley has never been truly healthy with the Dawgs, but is playing through pain better than ever. His coaches pushed him to increase his toughness and improve his attitude this spring, and he did. He was bulldozing teammates during practice and the spring game and is motivated to play his best ball this fall.

3. Floyd and Johnson could be special: Linebacker Leonard Floyd could be Georgia’s best defensive player, while defensive lineman Toby Johnson could be primed for a breakout season. Floyd can do just about everything under the sun, while Johnson was a constant terror during Georgia’s spring game. Both needed to be doubleteamed this spring, and you should hear a lot more about these two this fall.

Three questions for the fall:

1. What's next for the secondary?: There’s no question that new DC Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest job will be fixing Georgia’s secondary. It showed similar inconsistencies this spring and the offense could have made things look really ugly through the air during the spring game if not for a few overthrows. Expect some of Georgia’s newcomers to get every shot at taking starting spots this fall.

2. Who will play at left guard?: Four of the five starting offensive line spots look to be set. Left guard, however, is unknown. There are a lot of combinations for the Dawgs and you could even see tackle Kolton Houston play there. Rising sophomore Brandon Kublanow playing at LG would keep Houston and John Theus at the tackle spots, but Mark Beard and Watts Dantzler could shake things up.

3. Will we see RB Keith Marshall this fall?: Marshall is running after his devastating ACL injury from last fall, but the coaches aren’t sure if he’ll be 100 percent this fall. Marshall hasn’t been cutting much, but he’s progressing. Still, with the severity of last year’s injury, Marshall could be limited this fall, or out completely.

One way-too-early prediction:

Midway through the season, Georgia will spend four straight games away from Athens. The trip starts at Missouri and squeezes in that annual game in Jacksonville, Fla., against rival Florida. Add a trip to Arkansas and Kentucky, and the Dawgs will be world travelers. Expect Georgia to split that road trip.

DawgNation links: Fantastic freshmen

September, 3, 2012
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David Ching writes Insider: Georgia's high-ranked signing haul from February is quickly paying off, as several freshmen already are filling big roles for the Bulldogs on game day.

Ching Insider: Freshman tailback Todd Gurley’s big debut could be considered one of the best of the Mark Richt era.

Ching Insider: UGA power rankings, Week 1

Kipp Adams writes Insider: Opponents are on the lookout for four-star Naim Mustafaa, and so are college programs. The Georgia commit has three official visits planned.

Adams Insider: Georgia’s top Class of 2013 recruit Shaq Wiggins took a little trip into No Man’s Land this past weekend, visiting the Bulldogs’ archrival, the Florida Gators.

Adams Insider: Georgia target Tyren Jones didn’t take long to start having a banner year in 2012.

Radi Nabulsi writes Insider: Georgia commits weigh in on the Bulldogs’ season opener, and they aren’t shy about assessing the team’s struggles with an unexpectedly feisty Buffalo squad.

Nabulsi (Video): Catching up with Georgia safety commit Quincy Mauger.

DawgNation links: Making the Play

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
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David Ching and Radi Nabulsi: Making the Play – Malcolm Mitchell
DawgNation opens its latest series, which takes an in-depth look at the Georgia Bulldogs’ most memorable plays of 2011, starting with a breakdown by Malcolm Mitchell of a 71-yard bomb from Aaron Murray against Tennessee that could’ve and should’ve gone all the way.

David Ching writes: With the stigma that sometimes comes with recruiting too many juco transfers, the Bulldogs are cautious in how many they bring in each year. Sometimes those players don't make the grade, while others reap the benefits of taking such a step.

Ching Q&A Insider: Georgia nose guard John Jenkins was a juco transfer, and the move from a two-year school in Connecticut to the blazing heat of a Georgia summer wasn’t easy for the standout D-lineman.

Ching Insider: Practice notes. In Mark Richt’s quest to improve Georgia’s struggling special teams, the emphasis this preseason has been on quality -- improved quality of the work in practice and higher quality personnel on those coverage units.

Adams Insider: DawgNation looks at the top 10 targets available for the Georgia Bulldogs -- already loaded with 28 commitments for the Class of 2013 -- as football season begins.

DawgNation Roundtable Insider: It has been a while since the Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 6 the polls -- preseason or otherwise. Mark Richt has said he wishes the polls would come out later, and he discussed how he votes in the coaches’ poll. This week’s Roundtable discussion is twofold, centering on Georgia being worthy of a high ranking as well as views on head coaches having a say in the polls.

Ching Insider: Around the hedges in 80 Days. Brand new freshman O-lineman John Theus, with a heaping helping of expectations on his shoulders, has held up well thus far in camp and seems on track for an outstanding college career.

DawgNation links: Murray on turnovers

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
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David Ching writes: Georgia coach Mark Richt is confident his quarterback will appreciate the responsibility he carries in preventing turnovers this season, and Aaron Murray has spent the offseason honing the nuances that will help him accomplish that.

Ching: Insider DawgNation’s Around the Hedges in 80 Days series takes a look at sophomore offensive lineman Mark Beard.

Georgia spring wrap

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
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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.

Spring shoes to fill: Georgia

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
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Georgia is losing a couple of key seniors on its offensive line. One of the priorities this spring is finding a new left tackle.

OUT: OT Cordy Glenn. After starting his college career at guard, Glenn settled in at left tackle last season and developed into a first-team All-SEC performer. Glenn could pass protect and clear the way in the running game equally well, and the Bulldogs were never hesitant to run behind him in key situations. Glenn was massive (6-foot-5, 345 pounds), but he moved very well for his size, which made him an even more effective blocker. Wherever the Bulldogs needed him during his career, he delivered. He made 50 career starts at left guard, right guard and left tackle, and there's a reason he's being projected as a first-round NFL draft pick next month.

IN: Kenarious Gates, Mark Beard, Austin Long or John Theus. Gates is currently lining up as the first-team left tackle during spring practice, and is the favorite to stay there. A rising junior, the 6-5, 328-pound Gates started nine games last season at guard. So perhaps he will take the same path to the starting left tackle job as Glenn. Gates will have some competition. Beard, a junior college newcomer, is playing behind Gates right now at left tackle, and will continue to get a look. The Bulldogs still need to figure out who their center is, too, which could involve some shuffling. For instance, if junior Chris Burnette had to move from guard to center, the Bulldogs might decide that they need to keep Gates at guard. Long, a rising junior, is another possibility at left tackle, although he's struggled with injuries. The one everybody at Georgia is waiting on is heralded freshman John Theus, who will be on campus this summer. Right tackle might be where Theus is headed, and don't rule out the possibility of his starting at some point next season.

Opening spring camp: Georgia

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
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Schedule: Georgia begins spring practice March 20 and concludes with the G-Day Game, 2 p.m. ET April 14 at Sanford Stadium.

What's new: For the first time in a long time, the Bulldogs enter spring ball without any coaching changes. Georgia let its coaches know how much the 2011 season meant by giving extensions to head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The Bulldogs also went through mat drills before spring practice, something they didn't do last year. Georgia welcomed three early enrollees in running back Keith Marshall, quarterback Faton Bauta and junior college offensive lineman Mark Beard.

On the mend: Wide receiver Chris Conley could be limited this spring with a wrist injury. Also, outside linebacker/defensive end Sterling Bailey had foot surgery in December and could be limited. Receiver Rantavious Wooten is coming off of a season in which he battled concussion symptoms for most of the year after being in a car accident, but he's expected to be completely recovered this spring.

On the move: One of the biggest moves in the SEC revolves around receiver Malcolm Mitchell. After quite the freshman season, Mitchell will work at cornerback this spring, because Georgia's numbers there are so low. Mitchell was one of the best in the conference at receiver in 2011, but with Georgia needing more help at cornerback, he could see more playing time on defense rather than offense this fall. Bailey was listed as an outside linebacker last season, but there's a chance that he could move to defensive end this spring. Ray Drew will also get more reps at defensive end, after playing outside linebacker last fall. He's likely to get more reps than Bailey, considering he played more and Bailey is recovering from surgery. Richard Samuel, who moved back to running back from linebacker last fall, could get reps at fullback as well.

Questions: The cornerback spot will be very thin heading into the 2012 season. Thanks to attrition, dismissals and suspensions, Mitchell moved to corner. There is starting experience, but depth is an issue, and Sander Commings has been suspended for the first two games. With Commings and Branden Smith the only vets, Georgia will have to rely on youngsters will little experience this spring. Damian Swann, Devin Bowman and Blake Sailors will have to grow up fast. The offensive line lost starters Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson, and returns zero seniors this season. All 14 who will partake in spring practice are underclassmen. The good news is that there is depth, and a lot of players can play different positions, but it's a pretty inexperienced group. Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee all started games last season, but they'll have to coach up a lot of younger players this spring. And you can't forget about the running back spot. Isaiah Crowell has vowed to work harder, and has had the most time since he arrived to be healthy, so a big spring is expected. He'll need it, with Marshall on campus and ready to see a lot some time this fall.

Getting defensive: The Bulldogs return nine defensive starters from a unit that ranked fifth nationally last season. Those returners include the SEC's top sack man in linebacker Jarvis Jones. Complementing Jones on what is arguably the SEC's top linebacking unit are Alec Oglreetree, Cornelius Washington, and Mike Gilliard. The massive John Jenkins is back at nose guard, and Abry Jones, who is coming off a solid 2011, is back at end. There certainly are questions in the secondary, but having starters Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams, Smith, and eventually Commings, will help tremendously

Don't forget about: With defense being in Mitchell's future, Georgia's offense will take a hit, but the Bulldogs aren't without bodies at receiver. Mitchell is easily Georgia's best receiver, but there is still some good talent behind him. Tavarres King hopes his bowl performance is a springboard for this season. He didn't put up stellar numbers, but became a more reliable target in the second half of the season. Then you have Michael Bennett, who really came on as a third option at receiver, catching 32 passes and five touchdowns. Conley will be limited, but proved to be a trusted target last season. Of course, Wooten and Marlon Brown are still looking to put everything together, but time is ticking for these two vets. It's time for them to step up this spring, and the coaches feel both have the physical tools and understand the offense enough to make it happen.

Breaking out: Brown appears to be the healthiest he's been since arriving in Athens. The coaches have been waiting and waiting for him to step up and be a force in the passing game, but he's been so off-and-on during his career. He enters the spring with high expectations from the coaching staff, and his quarterback, Aaron Murray, has a lot of confidence in him. Tight ends Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch are players who could break through this spring, especially with Mitchell working on defense. Rome and Lynch will be looking to replace Orson Charles' production. Running back Ken Malcolme is another player to keep an eye on. His attitude has changed, and he will push to be the second or third running back. Defensively, linebacker Cornelius Washington is another players the coaches hope elevates his play this spring and finally reaches his potential.

All eyes on: Murray is coming off two seasons in which he broke Georgia passing records, but the redshirt junior still hears some criticism. His play in big games has been called into question because of the mistakes he's made. Georgia opened the season with two losses against ranked teams, and ended the season that way. In Murray's past four games, he threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions, including two interceptions in the SEC title-game loss against LSU, and two in the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State. Improving the little things and trusting those around him more will help Murray tremendously this spring. He'll also have the responsibility of making sure this team is mentally ready for all the hype and the spotlight that will come with a team that will surely be a favorite in the SEC East this fall.

DawgNation links: OL spring outlook

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
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DawgNation has more coverage of the Georgia Bulldogs:

David Ching writes Insider: Georgia's shaky offensive line might be helped greatly with the addition of junior college tackle Mark Beard.

Spring OL outlook: With the Bulldogs losing three starters from the offensive line, no other position will be as scrutinized this spring.

DawgNation: Outback Bowl preview

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
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Outback Bowl breakdown: Georgia and Michigan State come into Monday's Outback Bowl with something to prove, as the Bulldogs look for a signature win over a Spartans team that wants to end a bowl losing streak.

Know your future Dawgs Insider : Kipp Adams interviews Georgia commit and early enrollee Keith Marshall.


Know your future Dawgs Insider : Kipp Adams interviews Georgia commit and early enrollee Mark Beard.

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