Georgia held its first full-contact practice during Monday's morning session, giving the Bulldogs' defense its first chance to tackle the offense to the ground.
It was a welcome reward, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said, particularly after several of the running backs took full advantage of their safer positions during last week's drills.
"It was a good feeling," Dobbs said. "(The tailbacks) all like to run hard, especially when we're in thud and can't go to the ground. So it was a nice switchover and a good chance to take them to the ground, execute a little revenge. It was good for us to unleash and play to our full capability."
Monday's morning practice was a key stepping stone for the fresh faces in camp, too. The freshmen got their first taste of real contact, and while no one ended up worse for the wear, they did manage to get acquainted with life in the SEC.
"A lot of guys might have had a little first-time jitters, but after that first piece of contact, that's gone," linebacker Akeem Dent said. "It's just good to get outside and get to feeling like it's a game."
The freshmen weren't the only Bulldogs who might have been a bit nervous about going to full contact. Several of Georgia's veterans returning from injuries put their bodies to the test for the first time as well, and the reports were all favorable.
Quarterback Joe Cox said he was impressed by the mobility shown by left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, and defensive tackle Jeff Owens said his knee held up well after Monday's practice. The only problem, Owens said, is he didn't get a chance to test it enough.
"I didn't really get a clean shot like I wanted to," Owens said. "I got Richard (Samuel) on the inside drill. It just wasn't that clean shot I wanted on that first hit."
A ROUGH START
Freshman tailback Washaun Ealey participated in several of Georgia's drills Monday but was held out of contact work due to a hyperextended elbow he suffered last week.
Even with the lighter workload, however, Ealey's first few days on the job have been a whirlwind, he said.
"It's been very intense, and I've been learning a lot," Ealey said. "The coaches and the other running backs have been helping me with all the plays. I have to get used to how big and fast the other players are on defense and how much more physical I have to be."
With that in mind, Ealey asked out of his green non-contact jersey after the morning's workouts so he could be a full participant in the afternoon session.
Ealey wore a brace to prevent further damage to his elbow, but managed to take several hits during the afternoon session without any pain.
"He got hit a couple times and it didn't look like he came back crying," Richt said. "It's a little sore, a little tender, but he wants to compete and that's good."
FEELIN' HOT, HOT, HOT
The weather hasn't exactly made hitting the practice field too much fun during Georgia's first seven days of fall camp, but the long afternoons under the scorching sun may be a blessing in disguise.
Richt said he expects the temperatures in Stillwater, Okla. to approach triple digits when the Bulldogs open their season against Oklahoma State, and his staff has worked to prepare Georgia for the heat even before practice began.
"The coaches did a good job this summer of not having us working out in the mornings, but having us out there when it's hot," defensive tackle Kade Weston said. "You can tell the difference, and there would have been a lot of people cramped up or with IVs. It's tough going in the sun, but it's going to help a lot."
That doesn't mean that donning a helmet and pads was particularly comfortable, Weston said. In fact, he said players might benefit a lot more from being able to wear helmets during voluntary workouts in the summer, too.
"We were working all summer, but when we got down there with a helmet on, it felt different," Weston said. "If we could use helmets to condition in the summer, it would be a big help."
KEEP IT GOING
With the first two-a-days in the books, Cox said he's pleased with how far the team has come. The job now is to keep the momentum going.
"We've gotten better in the areas we needed to get better in, but now it's a grind," Cox said. "You have to find a way to keep everybody up, the tempo high in practice and make sure you get the work you need. You can't have a wasted day at this point once everything's been installed."
Particularly with the extensive heat and long practices, Cox said it's more important than ever for Georgia's leaders to step up and be vocal on the field.
"When you have two practices a day, you have to be focused and make yourself push through everything," Cox said. "There are times during the first practice when you're struggling and you're like, ‘Man, we still have another one of these this afternoon.' But it's just one of those things where the leaders have to step up and keep everybody enthused and pushing hard."
EXTRA POINTS: Justin Houston was limited in practice Monday due to a minor shoulder injury. Richt said Houston should return to work Wednesday… Dobbs is still recovering from offseason foot surgery and was held out of the afternoon session of practice… Marlon Brown chipped a bone in his finger but continued work running routes. Richt said Brown likely won't catch any passes, however, until at least Wednesday… Richt said the Bulldogs will scrimmage Wednesday afternoon and the first changes to the depth chart – including at running back – are likely to occur after that.