Nolte: Richt stays calm during explosive day

ATHENS — Nothing but shockers and bombshells at Georgia's preseason media day.

Head coach Mark Richt said the offensive line is fine and won't be a concern.

He said there's a clear and concise plan involving D.J. Shockley getting on the field.

He said the offensive philosophy has been tweaked to adjust to the departure of kicker Billy Bennett. It also has been altered to be more unpredictable, throw deeper more often, and use the tight ends for something other than a third tackle.

He said preparing for the Florida game would involve him in a Bobby Bowden mask, some standup from assistant coach Jon Fabris, and a rerun of Davids Greene and Pollack doing some Kenny Chesney as they did at his show in Atlanta, all part of taking the pressure off throughout the week. There might be an Adams-Dooley skit, or a short version of "The Apprentice."

He said he had no doubts that there would be no more disciplinary actions needed for Odell Thurman.

OK, he said none of that stuff. But life would be better in Dawg Nation if he'd been able to, since: The offensive line — as it is with every team, every year, on every level — is a key and an issue with position changes, injuries and redshirts who will finally practice.

Richt didn't talk much about the line, but expects an automatic improvement with the move of Max Jean-Gilles to guard.

"Brings a lot of energy," Richt said. "Max loves the game. He's a very a physical player."

And what to do with Shockley — the guess here is that Shockley's quarterbacking opportunities are dwindling — who remains full of potential and question marks. He's talked about Shockley and Greene on the field at the same time, most recently at the Bulldog Club rally in Atlanta.

Monday, some deflection on that count.

"I did that for all the people that have been writing me letters and showing me a bunch trick plays with David and D.J. in the game at the same time," Richt said. "So I promised to do it at least once this year."

More than once is a good idea, for it's highly debatable how well the "experiment" hasn't worked, and it's become too much of a topic. Can't remember the last time a backup with less than 200 snaps in two seasons was such a conversation piece.

He's changed the philosophy a little bit, though.

"We're gonna play it by ear," Richt said. "I don't want to predetermine when we're going to do that because I've done that before and sometimes it doesn't seem like the right time to do it one way or the other."

Indeed.

Richt was expectedly disappointed in Thurman's latest misjudgment, but the Bulldogs aren't in dire straits. It was Thurman last month in Macon saying that the breakout player this season on defense would be one Derrick White, who's competing for a starting spot on the outside while remaining a backup in the middle.

"I came in with Derrick," Thurman said in the state college preview meeting at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. "I think Derrick is one of the best players on the team. He just hasn't had the chance to show (it). ... I think it's time for him."

Of course, something else Thurman said at the time: "I feel a whole lot more mature. I appreciate more of what I have."

Soooo ...

Thurman's not alone in his confidence in White, and for good reason.

Despite starting only three games and missing two games and a fair number of snaps because of injury, White still managed to finish No. 13 in tackles for Georgia.

Thurman's absence will affect chemistry and cohesiveness. White might be more fundamentally sound but isn't as explosive. Don't write South Carolina as a directional school gimme, but the Bulldogs defense doesn't lose much with White.

As most will find out in about 24 days.


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