Georgia begins short "offseason"

ATHENS -- Georgia coach Mark Richt sent all his assistant coaches home Wednesday evening and told them not to come back until Monday.

The staff needed a break after signing 20 new players on National Signing Day, and Mark Richt planned to use the time while the others were away to "clear off my desk," he said.

"This is the beginning of the best time of the year," Richt said. "College coaching is a grind from two-a-days through signing day."

Georgia's players, most of whom are currently working out, will begin their offseason mat drills Feb. 16. That program will take them up to the start of spring practice on March 20.

The Bulldogs annual spring G-Day game will be on April 17.

Richt said last week he hadn't begun to think about spring practice. When Georgia's coaches reconvene Monday, they will start that process, he said.

"We'll begin to evaluate what we did offensively, defensively, and in the kicking teams," he said.

One of the Bulldogs' spring focuses likely will be on finding defensive backs. Georgia has to replace starting cornerback Bruce Thornton and starting safety Sean Jones. DeMario Minter will get the first shot to replace Thornton, Richt said, and Greg Blue will replace Jones, but Georgia will have to develop some depth.

The offensive line will again be a priority, but it's uncertain how many linemen the Bulldogs will have available. Guard Josh Brock is expected to miss all of spring after having successful shoulder surgery, and guard Bartley Miller may also require an operation to repair a shoulder injury.

Reserve guard Reggie Weeks of Smith Station, Ala., also may not participate. He missed the Capital One Bowl after emergency surgery to stop an infection in his knee. Week has had several knee problems and could be a candidate for a medical disqualification before next season.

Also, Richt said, the Bulldogs will try to improve their red zone offense this offseason after scoring touchdowns on just 31 of their 61 trips inside the 20-yard line last year.

"We'll visit some (other staffs), and that'll be one of the top priorities," he said.

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