Spring Practice: News & Notes

Notes and quotes from coaches after Georgia's first spring practice in full pads.

Georgia held its first practice in full pads Tuesday after a week off for spring break. We at Dawg Post have compiled some info and quotes from running backs coach Bryan McClendon and defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos below.

Running Backs

Keith Marshall and Brandon Harton returned to practice, giving Georgia some added depth at tailback, and Coach Richt has heralded Todd Gurley for being trimmer this spring.

Bryan McClendon

On Todd Gurley's off-season conditioning:

I think all those guys have come into spring in extremely good shape. Those guys have worked hard in the offseason. Both Todd and Keith ran track. That's something different that could lift them up mentally. (Todd) has a lot that could actually improve his game; that being one of them. I think how he's been this past spring is just carrying over from what he's been doing. He's been working his tail off out there (in practice), which is what he's been doing here in the offseason as well.

On Gurley's potential:

It's a testament to a lot of the guys around him. But I think his ceiling is extremely high. He and I have many conversations, and I tell him ‘don't try to be better than the guy you were last year, just come out here to get better. In every aspect you can, just go out there to get better.' I think he's taking that approach. He's out there busting his tail, so hopefully everything will continue. I would definitely like that. He's working hard.

On Keith Marshall's return from injury:

He looked good, but it was his first day of spring practice. Obviously, from a knowledge standpoint, he knew exactly what to do and didn't miss a beat in that aspect of it. Keith still has a ways to come with his game as well. He has goals that we want to make sure we check off by the end of the spring or, at least, are in that right direction by this spring. He's come out there and he's doing that. He's worked extremely hard as well. Both of those guys—it's a testament to them and their families and everything else. Both of them come out there ready to get better.

On early enrollee J.J. Green:

He's a little different (style). He's been able to give us some depth there, some much needed depth. We're making sure we go through practice with a fine-toothed comb on the front-end to make sure J.J. is getting everything you want him to get.

On working with limited depth:

Obviously, J.J. needing a lot of reps and a body of work helps out. But you've still got Kyle Karempelis and Brandon Harton who's back (Tuesday). You've got guys that have been there and know exactly what you want and what you expect. They are there working every day, so it's been good.

On being cautious with Gurley this spring:

I think you've got to (exercise caution) with anybody. You don't want to overload anybody. When guys get tired, that's when guys get hurt because they're out of position or their slacking in technique. It's my job to get them tired and make sure they're good when they're at that point, but you've got to exercise caution with any of them. I think with the collection of those guys I've been able to do that. My biggest thing is that I don't want guys to play to not get hurt. When you play to not get hurt, that's when you get hurt. You definitely have to make sure you put them in the right position. Like I said, just go through practice on the front end and looking at everything you want them to get. I tell them that once they're in there, they gotta go. They gotta play football. And it's been working.

Defensive Backs

There was a buzz among some players before spring break about Sheldon Dawson. He seemed to be turning some heads.

I asked defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos about Dawson, where some safeties would be playing and Corey Moore's progress. He mentioned that Quincy Mauger and Tray Matthews are learning both safety positions and emphasized cross-training all of his safeties this spring...

Scott Lakatos

On the opportunity for youngsters:

All those guys have opportunity to put themselves in a position to be big time contributers. It's just a matter now of how hard they want to work at it and how fast they can develop and get ready to go in a game and be solid players.

On Sheldon Dawson:

He got some snaps last year on special teams so at least he has a feel for the speed of the game compared to a guy who has never been on the field. From a DB standpoint, he's just like everybody else. He has a lot of work to do.

On the newcomers learning:

They're on par. There's a learning curve, and you have to battle it. You wish that everybody picked it up the first time you say it to them, but as we know, it doesn't work that way. They're battling the learning curve. Their work ethic is good. They want to get better, so it's just a matter of time before we get them ready.

On Tray Mathews:

He's doing a good job. Obviously, he's a guy we were excited to get here. His ability is pretty good. He's got a chance to be a really good player here. It's just a matter of getting him to develop as well. He's a guy that, so far, has a pretty good work ethic, and I think he'll continue to get better.

On Matthews' position—free or strong:

He's not strictly a free. We're cross-training a lot of people. We're putting a lot of people in different positions to see what their contribution is going to be, what they're good at and where we're going to need them when it comes to game-planning—what they're good at doing and what they need help with. We're doing that with a lot of guys on defense.

On Josh Harvey-Clemons:

He's been all over the place. That's something we've done before. He's a big kid and a good athlete. He's got a chance—if he develops like we hope he does—to be something special, as well.

On Corey Moore:

I think Corey's been excited to get going. He's worked hard at it. He's done a lot of things off the field to prepare himself. He is a little familiar with some of the things we're doing. It's an opportunity for to go out and see what he can do. Build a little confidence for himself and show the coaches what he's capable of. He's just like everybody else. We'll put him wherever we need to put him that can make us better and figure out all the different ways he can help us. That's what spring is for.

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