2006 Spring Football: Day 3 News and Notes

ATHENS - News and notes from Georgia's spring practices.

SPEAKING OF: Georgia is shaking things up this spring in hopes of addressing the offense's biggest problem of the Mark Richt era.

"We've had too many drops over the last five years in my opinion," Georgia's sixth-year head coach said. "We've got to catch the football if we're going to make this thing really go and be exciting."

This spring, the Bulldogs have purchased two tennis ball machines for their practice field. Georgia's wide receivers, tight ends and running backs used borrowed machines briefly last year, and Richt has become a believer in the regimen.

"The one thing I like the most about it is you can't really catch a tennis ball with your body," he said. "You must get your hands away from your body to snatch the ball and that's what we need to get better at. We let too many balls get to our body. We have to trust our hands more. I'm not talking about wide receiver only, it's a wide receiver, tight end and running back (issue)."

One receiver who has impressed in the first three days of spring is rising senior Mario Raley. The Charlotte, N.C., native has just 11 career catches but is battling for a starting spot in the Bulldogs' two receiver set. Mohamed Massaquoi and Kenneth Harris are currently the starters.

"Mario's going to play and probably play a lot if everything keeps going like it's been," Richt said. "He knows what he's doing. He's catching the ball pretty well."

Raley would be the No. 1 slot receiver if the season began today.

PRACTICE REPORT: Wednesday was the Bulldogs' first spring practice this year in full pads. The defense won the day, Richt said.

"I think they're just tougher than the offense right now," he said. "The protection was so poor today you could hardly judge anything. We'll just call it the sack drills. We've changed the name until the offense blocks somebody."

Freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford took his first snaps with the starters and said he felt good about his performance under the circumstances. Stafford's weight was listed as 210 pounds when he verbally committed to the Bulldogs, but he is between 235 and 238 now, he said Wednesday. However, neither he nor the coaching staff thinks he needs to lose weight, he said.

Several notable UGA alumni showed up for the practice, including Terrence Edwards, Michael Greer, Leonard Pope and Will Witherspoon.

EARLY START: Apparently, it's never too early for award lists. Defensive end Quentin Moses has been placed on the preliminary watch list for the 2006 Rotary Lombardi Award. The Lombardi Award goes to the nation's best lineman or linebacker.

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