Croom Critical of Offense After Contact Work

Coach Sylvester Croom could find one positive point in Wednesday's practice. Unfortunately it was not something likely to play a part in next weekend's season-opening game.<P> "Our scout team defense practiced a whole lot better today," Croom said. "They beat the living crap out of our offense."

The coach's stern summary came after the 15th and final period, when the first and second units worked against their scout-team counterparts in goal line drills. But for most of the day the players atop the depth charts were often outplayed by the reserves, particularly the offense.

"They stripped the ball in the secondary, they intimidated them in the fourth quarter," Croom said. "I was proud of our scout team, they showed up some things even when we made plays. And that's what we've got to have, if we keep working like that maybe we'll get better on offense."

The Bulldog coach was particularly unhappy with the way the offense failed to protect the football, but overall there were few things he liked about the afternoon workout. "Maybe we can learn from it," he said. "I know what we do (the offensive scheme) works, so it won't change. That's what we' re going to continue to do." But Croom has changed his mind about how Thursday's session at Scott Field will be run.

"I was going to go ones-vs.-twos, but after today I'm going to line up the best against the best and if we get hurt, so what." Having the top teams hitting is another change from early in the week when the likely starters and top substitutes were held out of contact to prevent injuries.

The Bulldogs worked out in full gear Wednesday, and for a change of the week's pace it did not rain during the session, though lingering humidity made sure the players worked up a good sweat even before post-practice conditioning.

With the departure of sophomore Aries Nelson, the quarterback depth chart stacks up as Omarr Conner, Kyle York, and now freshman Mike Henig as sole #3. Walk-ons T.J. Swanson and Riley Morris complete the five-man quarterback crew, though these freshmen additions are mostly used to hand off in tackling drills while the top three prepare for action.

The injury list isn't much shorter at the moment though some names have changed. The defensive line was missing Deluan Robinson (ankle), though this was mostly to protect the starting ‘big' end. Robinson spent most of this day in the training room, with Michael Heard taking his place on the first team. Redshirt Corey Clark continues to hold his #1 spot at tackle ahead of Andrew Powell, though both played at times on goal-line defense.

Defensive tackle Solomon Ona (shoulder) and end Rob Walker (neck) were in red-cross jerseys. On a more positive note end Stephen Arant is back on active duty after missing two weeks with a shoulder injury. None of these hurting linemen should be missing come game week.

On the offensive line right guard Will Rogers (ankle) remained indoors as the training staff tries to get him ready for game week. Left guard Johnny Wadley (ankle) practiced off-and-on. When these regular #1 guards were out, second-center Brian Anderson replaced Wadley and veteran Otis Riddley took the place of Rogers. Anderson is essentially the three-position backup across the interior three positions. Left tackle Richard Burch appears to be full-speed after an ankle problem last week.

Other offensive players held out were wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines (hamstring) and running backs Jason Jude (knee strain) and DeMarcus Johnson (hamstring), and wide receiver Jason Husband. Updated word on Bivines is that the senior could be ready to play by mid-September if the damaged nerve continues to heal.

Freshman tight end Jeremy Jones is participating in some drills but spent much of the afternoon on the exercise bike as he works to get into condition. Jones also has a sore left knee limiting his turns, and could be a redshirt candidate.

Thursday's scrimmage will be closed to fans and media alike, though the coach will speak to reporters afterwards. The Bulldogs will work out on Friday before Croom gives them Saturday off, and then the team will begin their fall game-week routine for real.

"We'll scrimmage and see where we are and go from there. I'm looking for guys to finish plays and not beat themselves and have some mental discipline."

David Murray is the editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by website. You can contact him by email at

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