SEC: Marlon Brown

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.”

Aaron Murray targets Georgia's pro day

December, 13, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. – When Aaron Murray says he intends to participate in Georgia's pro day before the NFL draft, consider the source.

In April, he'll be about five months removed from surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament when he and his fellow draft prospects take the field before a horde of scouts, coaches and front office reps. While that might seem like a quick return, this is the same player who broke his leg in a mid-October game as a high school senior, only to return for his team's final two playoff victories in a state championship run.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Murray expects to be close to full health by pro day and to be at 100 percent by the time his future NFL team opens training camp.

To read more, click here.
ATHENS, Ga. -- If Georgia's offense is to match or exceed last season's record-breaking point totals, it's not the confidence the Bulldogs developed last fall that will provide the spark.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray and Mike Bobo
Paul Abell/US PresswireGeorgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and QB Aaron Murray depth of knowledge in the scheme are making the Bulldogs more effective.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the next two months -- when senior quarterback Aaron Murray will lead summer workouts -- will determine whether his veteran offense maintains its explosiveness from a year ago.


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Georgia Bulldogs spring wrap

May, 6, 2013
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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.

SEC lunch links

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
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Making the rounds on a Monday:

ATHENS, Ga. -- Upset-minded Ole Miss put a scare into the fans who gathered at Sanford Stadium for Georgia's homecoming on Saturday afternoon, but a pair of first-half touchdown passes by quarterback Aaron Murray broke Georgia out of its early daze and the Bulldogs broke away in the second half for a comfortable 37-10 victory.

How the game was won: Ole Miss jumped out to an early lead, but Georgia used a 40-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Tavarres King with 3 seconds left in the first half to take a 14-10 lead at intermission. It was all Bulldogs after that as Ole Miss mustered just 55 yards in the second half and the Bulldogs steadily pulled away.

Turning point: Georgia was going nowhere and trailed 10-0 when it faced third-and-1 at its own 34-yard line. That’s when offensive coordinator Mike Bobo went deep into the mothballs to fish out the rooskie pass that David Greene used to great success as the Bulldogs’ quarterback a decade ago. Murray faked a handoff and stood with the ball on his hip and his back to the line of scrimmage. He then wheeled and lofted a pass to uncovered Marlon Brown for a 66-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bulldogs life for the first time.

Unsung hero: Todd Gurley. Georgia’s freshman running back did not score a touchdown and lost his first fumble of the season, but he kept the Bulldogs’ ground game going with another solid effort. Gurley rushed 18 times for 117 yards, pushing past the 100-yard barrier for the sixth time in nine games.

What it means: By putting away the Rebels, Georgia (8-1, 6-1) will be able to clinch its second straight SEC East title with a win against Auburn (2-7) next week. The Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak by beating lowly New Mexico State 42-7 on Saturday. But Georgia must win against Auburn, as Florida (8-1, 7-1) completed its SEC schedule with a 14-7 win against Missouri on Saturday and would claim the division title if Auburn pulls the upset next week.

DawgNation links: Get running again

October, 18, 2012
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David Ching writes Insider: As the second half of Georgia’s season kicks off Saturday against Kentucky, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo plans to right the ship by restoring the run game he regrettably set aside in the disastrous outing against South Carolina.

Radi Nabulsi writes: After starting the season on suspension, All-American safety Bacarri Rambo knows his play is not where it needs to be for the Bulldogs to defend their SEC East title, but he’s working on it.

Ching Insider: True freshman Jordan Jenkins has set a rather altitudinous goal for himself, should he have to again step in for LB Jarvis Jones in Saturday’s game against Kentucky. He plans to hurry up and get enough sacks to surpass the All-American’s total before Jones fully returns from an injury.

Ching Insider: 5 storylines – Georgia vs. Kentucky

Who will transform tomorrow?

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
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For weeks, Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell has been in some sort of football limbo when it comes to his position. He started off the season as a cornerback, but has moved back and forth between corner and receiver.

Now, he finds himself back on offense with the Bulldogs visiting South Carolina on Saturday.

Mitchell has slowly been moving back to wide receiver, but the season-ending injury to Michael Bennett has Mitchell permanently back on offense. He starred for the Bulldogs there as a freshman last year, and expect more of the old Mitchell to show up this weekend.

After a rusty return to wide receiver against Tennessee last weekend, Mitchell should regain his offensive legs this weekend in Columbia, S.C. Losing Bennett was a big blow to Georgia's offense, but the silver lining is that the Bulldogs' most talented wide receiver will return to the field for more action.

And he gets to do it against a South Carolina secondary that has yet to really be tested this season. With all of his time devoted to offense this week, Mitchell should be able to make quite a few plays against this Gamecocks defense. He can be used in the run game as well, where he'll showcase his tremendous speed and elusiveness. Expect fewer east-west runs from Mitchell this time around.

But where he'll really be effective is in the passing game, where he'll be able to stretch the field for quarterback Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs are going to want to test this secondary early, and Mitchell will more than help with that. He proved to be one of the SEC's best deep threats last season and should show some of that flash Saturday.

With Tavarres King and Marlon Brown both having strong years, it will be hard for South Carolina's secondary to just key in on Mitchell. The Gamecocks will have to prepare for all three and have to keep tabs on all three. And it won't be easy.

Expect Mitchell to have a big day at receiver for the Bulldogs this weekend.

Georgia WR Michael Bennett tears ACL

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
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Georgia's receiving corps took a major hit this week, as redshirt sophomore Michael Bennett's season ended after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee Tuesday.

Bennett suffered the injury toward the end of Tuesday's practice. A date for his surgery hasn't been determined.

Losing Bennett is a huge blow for this offense. He entered the week as Georgia's leading receiver with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns. Talk about a hard worker. Bennett was probably one of the most underrated receivers in the SEC. He's shown great speed, tremendous hands and just outworked opposing defenders.

His skill is one thing that will be tough to replace, but his work ethic might be even harder.

The good news for Georgia is that it has two other very reliable receivers in seniors Tavarres King and Marlon Brown. King and Brown have combined to catch 33 passes for 579 yards and six touchdowns. Both are averaging more than 60 yards receiving per game.

This could also open the door for more opportunities for Malcolm Mitchell, who played on offense more last week against Tennessee. He's easily Georgia's most talented wide receiver, but with him starting on defense this season, he's had to slowly transition back to offense. You could see some of the rust in a few of the runs he made against the Vols, but more time out there will only help him shake some of that off.

Expect to see a lot more of Mitchell from here on out.

Georgia's WRs welcome man coverage

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
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Georgia's freshmen running backs have been really fun to watch this season. They've owned the ground game for the Bulldogs and have helped Georgia's offense be much more balanced than it has been in the past.

But the stats pumped out by Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall don't tell the whole story. They're also helping Georgia's wide receivers get more opportunities to face defenders one-on-one. It's a receiver's dream, and the Bulldogs' wideouts are loving it.

With how much defenses have to pay attention to Gurley and Marshall, who have combined for 964 yards and 14 touchdowns, Georgia wide receiver Michael Bennett said it makes defenses extremely honest. Linebackers and safeties are playing closer to the line, making the play-action key to Georgia's game plan.

Forcing more defenders in the box has given Bennett and his teammates more chances to take on cornerbacks one-on-one, which is something Bennett says is a major advantage for the Bulldogs.

"We know we can break them off when they’re in our face and we showed that [Saturday]," Bennett said following Georgia's 51-44 win against Tennessee.

Against Tennessee, four Georgia receivers combined for 14 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett collected five of those receptions for 70 yards and both touchdowns.

On the season, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has had a field day with his receivers. Bennett and fellow wideouts Marlon Brown and Tavarres King have combined to catch 57 passes for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns. Each is averaging more than 60 yards per game, and Bennett hopes to see that sort of balance at wide receiver continue.

To him, getting in one-on-one situations more will make Georgia's passing game that much tougher to stop, but it starts up front. He needs the running backs to take extra players out of the equation, so Georgia's receivers can take care of the rest in situations Bennett said the Bulldogs have the advantage in.

"We’re good enough as receivers to get open when it’s one-on-one coverage, and we make it happen," he said.

SEC lunch links

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
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A check of what's making news in the SEC:

The SEC East now has the 'Big Three'

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
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video
With all due respect to the SEC West, the East has it going on this year.

I said before the season that the West had the muscle, but the East would be more fun to watch.

Well, after four weeks, it looks like the East doesn’t just have a more exciting race on its hands but the Big Three now reside on that side of the conference.

Now, before my Twitter feed gets spammed and I have to go into hiding in some bunker located in or around the city of Atlanta, hear me out.

Alabama and LSU are still the cream of the crop. They are the two best teams in the SEC, and might be the two best teams in the nation. Don’t let LSU’s ugly win over Auburn fool you. The Tigers are still extremely talented and that defense is just as fierce.

But after that, the East has the West beat. Arkansas, which was a part of the West's talented trio, has fallen to the bottom of the division and could be struggling to make a bowl. Mississippi State has looked good, but those lackluster wins against overmatched teams make me nervous.

Your new Big Three, ladies and gentlemen: Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. And each has to be taken seriously when it comes to winning the SEC.

I'm not saying they're better than Alabama or LSU, but they have a legitimate chance of ending the West’s reign of terror.

I’ll start with the Bulldogs:

GEORGIA (No. 5, 4-0)
  • The Bulldogs have the SEC’s best offense. Georgia leads the league with 530 yards of offense a game and is as balanced as they come. Aaron Murray is passing for 273 yards a game and has tossed 10 touchdowns to two interceptions. Tavarres King, Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett all have double-digit catches on the season and have combined for eight touchdowns.
  • Freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have turned into quite the rushing duo, combing for 670 yards and nine touchdowns. Gurley currently leads the SEC with 406 rushing yards and is averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
  • Where Georgia could have issues is with its run defense. The Dawgs are eighth in the SEC in rush defense (135.5 yards per game) and Alabama and LSU love to run the ball and wear down opponents. Georgia should know. But that should improve with the return of Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree. They will fill some of the holes we’ve seen on defense and help take some of that bend away.
SOUTH CAROLINA (No. 6, 4-0)
  • We’ve seen a lot more balance out of the Gamecocks’ offense in the past couple of weeks and it looks like Marcus Lattimore is getting stronger. He has the ability to wear down those defensive lines and open up the passing game for Connor Shaw. We’ll find out how much Lattimore is needed when South Carolina travels to LSU on Oct. 13.
  • Shaw might have a fracture in his shoulder, but he’s shown that he’s extremely tough and South Carolina will need that. He also showed against Missouri that he’s got what it takes to really sling the ball, as he completed his last 20 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Balance will be key, and this offense is full of it.
  • The secondary still has questions, but it’s getting better every week. South Carolina gives up a good chunk of yards through the air, but the Gamecocks have five interceptions and have allowed just three passing touchdowns. The play up front has really helped the secondary, as the Gamecocks are second in the SEC with 15 sacks. Jadeveon Clowney leads South Carolina with 4.5 sacks and is starting to find his groove.
FLORIDA (No. 11, 4-0)
  • The Gators finally have an offense. They still struggle some in the first half, but the Gators have outscored opponents 78-13 in the second half and haven’t allowed any points in the fourth quarter. Alabama can’t even say that! That’s a credit to Florida’s conditioning and solid halftime adjustments.
  • Florida also has a true downhill runner in Mike Gillislee, who is second in the SEC with 402 rushing yards, and have a budding star in quarterback Jeff Driskel. He can hurt teams with his legs and arm and has shown tremendous poise in harsh road conditions. This team has to find another consistent receiving threat outside of Jordan Reed.
  • Florida has shown some bend in its rush defense, and was pounded on the ground by Alabama and LSU last year. The Gators have to be tougher up front if they want a chance at claiming the SEC. Play in the box is crucial, and the Gators didn’t do very well at all in this area last year when they were clobbered by the Tide and Tigers. Florida’s date with LSU in the Swamp on Oct. 6 will tell us what that front can really do.

None of these teams are perfect, but they’re all pretty good. Georgia is probably equipped with the most talent in the East, but South Carolina and Florida aren’t far behind.

Watching these three beat each other up this fall is gonna be fun, but watching one of them try to take down one of the big dogs on the other side of the tracks will be especially entertaining.

Don’t sleep on the East this year.

DawgNation links: UGA offense afire

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
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David Ching writes Insider: The Bulldogs' offense is on a roll, racking up records left and right, and their increasingly effective quarterback Aaron Murray is just the tip of this iceberg.

Ching Insider: 3 Up, 3 Down

Ching Insider: Random Thoughts: UGA vs. Vanderbilt

Radi Nabulsi (Video): Radi Nabulsi talks with Marlon Brown, who had a big game in Georgia’s 48-3 win over Vanderbilt.

DawgNation links: WR turning corner

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
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David Ching writes: His UGA career plagued by injuries, WR Marlon Brown's night at Missouri began to fulfill the potential he's shown in practice.

Ching: Jarvis Jones and Aaron Murray should remain high on the lists of awards committees.

Radi Nabulsi writes: Insider 2014 LB Korie Rogers, who holds several FBS offers, intends to visit Georgia on Saturday.

Kipp Adams writes: Insider WR Demarre Kitt remains a 2014 commit to Georgia, but Clemson is still recruiting him -- and he’s attended both of the Tigers’ games so far.

Note: Check in on DawgNation's staff chat Insider at 2 p.m. ET, or drop your questions in now and check for responses later.

DawgNation links: Jones nabs spotlight

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
4:36
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David Ching writes: With four defensive stars still suspended in a high-stakes SEC opener on the national stage, Georgia could count on, among plenty of others, linebacker Jarvis Jones, who rallied the Bulldogs with his seemingly endless stifling of James Franklin and Mizzou in their conference debut.

Ching Insider: 3 up, 3 down

Ching Insider: Random thoughts on Georgia at Missouri -- Finally, against Missouri and after four years of waiting, Georgia fans might’ve seen receiver Marlon Brown’s big breakout game?

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