2006 Fall Camp: Observations and Opinions II

ATHENS – Dean Legge's observations and opinions from the opening week of Georgia's 2006 fall camp.

The number one topic during camp has been and will continue to be the quarterbacks. How do they look; who is winning the job; is anyone out of the job?

Publicly and privately Mark Richt is saying the same thing: that the quarterback race is as tight as ever, and that no one quarterback seems to be puling away from the pack.

Many thought Matthew Stafford would have started pulling away from the pack at this point, but they are underestimating how difficult it is to come in and learn everything needed to play quarterback in the SEC. Had Stafford not come in this December, he would be doggy paddling in a sea of confusion. He still has, by far and away, the best arm of the group and is the quarterback of the future at Georgia. But I think his big arm is making him think he can stick some throws that are not easily made. There are times a quarterback just needs to burn the ball out of bounds, but that's not an easy thing to do when you are fighting, and seem so close to winning the starting job.

I don't think the depth chart will change during fall camp. I think Joe Tereshinski is going to be the starter, and everyone below him on the depth chart will fall in line essentially as co-number two quarterbacks. If there is a change later in the season the depth chart will reflect that at the time.

Tereshinski had a good week of practice – better than I thought he would have. It seems to me that he is now the quarterback to beat, not only because of his experience and seniority, but also because he's just playing well. It's obvious that Tereshinski is more confident, and that he is using his leadership skills on the field. He is more talkative now, and has no problem saying that he's been doing well, which is a change from the past. He knows that he's done a good enough job to win the starting job, and it seems he is confident in acknowledging that he is doing well when asked about it.

Georgia's wide receivers have had a very good camp, and they needed to. These guys are a group that could explode this season. We already know what Mohamed Massaquoi brings to the table, but Kenneth Harris, who John Eason criticized some last week, has been catching the ball well in traffic. A.J. Bryant could also have a big season. Those two guys need to play well for Georgia to scare people with their receivers. Everything needs to work for an offense to move the ball and score. For much of last season the receivers did not consistently do their part in helping the team score, and that may be changing. Still, I am going to withhold judgment on the receivers until they play in Columbia. It's one thing to perform well in fall camp, which is an indication of the season you will have in the fall, but it's another to actually convert fall camp into a great fall season. I would be making a mistake if I did not mention Kris Durham – the next great wide receiver at Georgia – in this article. He does not drop a ball – really. The guy does not drop a ball, and he had added weight to his frame. He could be a real problem for teams this season.

Running back is clearly a Thomas Brown event. He's just better than everyone else there. There's not much else to write about there, but Kregg Lumpkin is a solid backup. Again, Brown won't lose his starting job unless he gets hurt.

At fullback you can count on the freshmen to redshirt. Even with Des Williams' injury, those two are not going to see the field. Brannon Southerland and Jason Johnson are a good enough duo, and have been blocking well this camp. I don't think Williams will pass Johnson on the depth chart when he returns from injury, but he was lining up with the threes to begin with anyway.

At tight end Na Derris Ward has been coming along, but I don't see him playing this fall. I am not aware of his being on a starting special teams group, so expect him to redshirt. Trahern Holden has added weight, but he's not getting closer to more reps at tight end because of Martrez Milner and Tripp Chandler. Holden, who is the fourth tight end behind Coleman Watson, will be a junior this fall.

On the offensive line it seems the soon-to-be starting group of Nick Jones, Michael Turner, Ken Shackleford, Fernando Velasco and Chester Adams are starting to gel a bit. It's not going to be the same sort of protection as D.J. Shockley enjoyed last season, but the tackles have come along well, and are starting to get close to holding their own against Quinton Moses and Charles Johnson. Earlier on, those two were getting whipped by whoever they lined up against.

Shotgun snaps could be a problem for Nick Jones. He's the best overall center, yes, but performs much better in actual snapping with a quarterback under center. His shotgun snaps are all over the place. Kevin Perez seems, now, to be the back up center. But Velasco is getting some work there, too. Those two could flip-flop in the depth chart, but even though it seems Perez is the number two, I would expect Velasco to start if anything happened to Jones. Perez is strictly a backup – he may or may not play this fall. Chris Davis, by the way, is the best-looking freshman lineman, and is also the best at shotgun snapping the ball to the quarterbacks, but he likely lacks the overall size needed to play in less than two weeks.

One injury, say to a tackle, on the offensive line will be big trouble in the first two games. If one of the tackles gets hurt expect an already beat up Chester Adams to slide outside, and for a patchwork offensive line until everyone is back healthy.

On the defensive line, Georgia's ends set the tone for what could be the most balanced defense since Georgia's 2002 defense. Moses and Johnson can't both be double teamed or chipped, so I don't know how teams are going to guard against them. Kade Weston could be getting a look at his first college start against Western Kentucky if Ray Gant's shoulder has a problem. The line needs Gant's not-afraid-to-say-anything attitude, however, and losing him in the future would be hard. Weston will be the most dominant lineman this fall. We'll see just how good he will be quickly. Freshman Brandon Wood is fighting, but I am not sure if he will play or not. He's got a body like Charles Johnson, but a motor like David Pollack.

Georgia's linebackers are virtually interchangeable. The top four – Brandon Miller, Danny Verdun Wheeler, Jarvis Jackson and Tony Taylor – could all play outside, and many of them have played inside, too. Depth will not be a problem at linebacker. And no, I would not expect to see Miller move to defensive end.

In the secondary, there is little doubt where the emotion and energy of the team comes from – back here. These guys won't stop making noise at practice. They seem to be the most-talented group from top to bottom on the team. From Tra Battle to Asher Allen and everyone in between, the secondary has the liveliest players, and the most talented, too.

There are several guys who would be playing a lot of minutes at other schools who redshirted last fall. Don't expect to see guys like Prince Miller, because there is no need to play them with the amount of talent above them.

Kelin Johnson will likely hold off C.J. Byrd and Ramarcus Brown will likely hold off Asher Allen in those two position fights. Still, expect to see a lot of Allen on special teams. Allen has too much talent to keep off the field.


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