2009 Spring: Day 1 News and Notes

ATHENS - David Hale's news and notes from Georgia's spring practices.

LEARNING THE ROPES

While the first day of spring practice was a simple transition for Cox, things weren't quite so smooth for Georgia's two three true freshmen.

Offensive lineman Dallas Lee got his first dose of coach Stacy Searels' wrath Tuesday, but he at least had a familiar face on the sideline for support. Lee's Buford High School coach Jess Simpson was at practice and had some helpful advice for his former player.

"No matter what happens," Simpson told Lee, "It's going to be OK."

Simpson was on hand for Ben Jones' first practice last year, and he told Lee that Georgia's starting center struggled just as much in his first taste of action, too.

Of course, Lee was the only one with his head on a swivel.

Freshmen quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger spent most of Tuesday's practice just trying to figure out what to do next and asking plenty of questions.

"Their heads were spinning a little bit today because it was the first time they were in the huddle and had to call plays and make reads at a game pace," Cox said. "I got a lot of questions, but I like that. I like helping them out."

Richt said the two quarterbacks went through the typical Day 1 jitters, and needed help with everything from footwork and progressions to the basic lingo to use in the huddle.

Despite their early struggles, Richt said both Mettenberger and Murray look to be quick studies, and he's excited to see what they'll be able to do by the end of the spring.

"Coach (Mike) Bobo is extremely pleased with them in the meeting rooms and how quickly they're picking things up," Richt said. "But to take it from the board to practice is not easy for those guys."

HE'S TRIPPIN'

Georgia knew it would be shorthanded at defensive end with injuries sidelining Rod Battle, Neland Ball and Cornelius Washington for the spring, but the depth chart took another hit Tuesday when freshman Jeremy Longo sat out with an illness.

That left just three healthy scholarship players, one of which was Kiante Tripp, who was practicing for the first time at defensive end since moving from the offensive line last month.

"It feels good being back at my home position," Tripp said. "It felt natural. I didn't make too many mistakes. Just trying to weave my way back into the position, not trying to be too flashy. Just trying to get the system down."

That was a sentiment Richt repeated after the practice, but despite the lack of technical brilliance on Tripp's part, his head coach was pleased with the effort.

"The first thing Coach Richt told me when I moved over was, ‘I don't care what your technique looks like, all I want you to do is just sell out and give it all you've got,'" Tripp said. "That's what I've been trying to do."

HOME COOKING?

Richt took a vacation to Mexico for spring break, and before he left he decided to turn his cell phone off and enjoy the time away.

"If something really important happens," he said, "I guess somebody will tell me about it."

Apparently Richt's son, Jon, didn't get the message.

Jon Richt, who was a freshman quarterback at Clemson last season, took the opportunity to inform his head coach that he intended to transfer, and Mark Richt didn't get the news until several days later.

"I knew he was thinking about it," Mark Richt said, "but before I left town I thought he was going to go through spring ball and then assess things."

Richt said he supports his son's decision and said Jon was hoping to transfer to a FCS or Division II school so that he could play immediately without sitting out a year. Ideally, Richt said, Jon would like to be a bit closer to home, too.

"He was saying he wanted to be in the state of Georgia, and I think that would be his preference," Mark Richt said. "But a few things are floating around a little bit and I think he's going to listen to other opportunities."

While Jon's hoping to find his way back to Georgia, his father is more than happy to put to rest any rumors of a family reunion with the Bulldogs.

"No," Mark Richt said, "we're still decided he needs to go away to college."

FULL SPEED AHEAD

For most of the offseason, wide receiver A.J. Green wasn't sure how much action he would see in spring practice. Green, who led Georgia in receiving last year as a freshman, has been nursing a groin injury since early in the 2008 season, and his priority for the offseason was rest and rehab.

As it turned out, however, Green was a full go in Georgia's first day of practice Tuesday, running routes and making cuts without much problem.

"It feels good," Green said. "I did everything (Tuesday). It's a little sore, but it's doing better, much better."

The key, however, will be how the groin feels after a night's rest, and Green's level of soreness as the week progresses will dictate how much work he'll get each day.

"We're going to see how it feels and see if I can still go like I did (Tuesday)," he said.


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