PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS: DEFENSE
ATHENS — Full pads don’t come on for another couple of days, but that didn’t keep the Georgia Bulldogs from getting physical during their practice Monday on Woodruff Practice Fields.
It was the Bulldogs’ third practice of 28 in preseason camp and first since Saturday’s open practice at Sanford Stadium. Teams are not allowed to conduct fully-padded, contact practices until players have completed the NCAA-mandated, five-day acclimatization period. That won’t come until Tuesday.
Nevertheless, there were a lot of instances of Georgia players encountering contact on Monday. But it came in the course of one-on-one drill work and lots of work with tackling dummies and blocking sleds.
And that was just on the defensive end of the field. The Bulldogs were divided into offense and defense for the portion of practice open for observation, with the defense in white jerseys working on the eastern-most artificial turf field and the offense to the west wearing red.
The emphasis was on fundamentals, some of which were lacking in Saturday’s open practice, based on the comments of the coaches. For instance, defensive backs were hearing “high, high, high” a lot from coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker during an extended “high-pointing” drill. The emphasis is to get the defenders to leave the ground as soon as possible to go up for the ball and not simply run deep with the receiver. The Bulldogs had several instances Saturday in which they were beaten deep.
Here’s some other observations from the defensive side of the ball on Monday:
- Georgia’s freshman outside linebackers were getting a lot of personal attention from first-year position coach Dan Lanning. At one point, he grabbed Brenton Cox and Azeez Ojulari and gave them a short and intense briefing before turning them loose on a one-and-one drill.
- Speaking of that Ojulari, a 6-foot3-, 240-pound freshman out of Marietta, was moving and well and seemingly without limitations despite wearing the same type of metal brace on his right knee as is running back Zamir White.
- Meanwhile, Lanning seems very similar in disposition to the man he is succeeding, Kevin Sherrer, who’s now the defensive coordinator Tennessee. That is, Lanning doesn’t spend a lot of time yelling and being physically demonstrative as he works with his charges. It’s more of a quiet intensity.
- One interesting moment was when Adam Anderson, one of two freshman 5-star prospects in the outside linebacker group, snuck his way back in the rotation to get an extra group during a pass-rushing drill. “I like this; I like this,” Lanning said, choosing to let Anderson get away with it.
- Freshman cornerback Divaad Wilson appears to be making a lot of progress in his recovery from a knee injury on the second day of spring practice. The consensus 4-star prospect from Miami, who had impressed his coaches in his short stint on the field, was running and cutting on the far end of the practice fields under the supervision of sports medicine director Ron Courson.
- Redshirt freshman defensive back Tray Bishop continues to practice with the Bulldogs as he awaits the adjudication of his eavesdropping/surveillance case. Bishop was arrested two months ago on the felony charge after being accused of videoing a consensual sex act without consent. “Things are still in the hands of the court right now, so we’re going through the due diligence that requires,” Smart said.
- Still no sign of punter Marshall Long. The third-year sophomore from China Grove, N.C., has not been with the Bulldogs in workouts since suffering another knee injury after spring practice.
- For what it’s worth, redshirt freshman Eric Stokes and senior Jarvis Wilson were warming up with the scout-team players before the practice moved into the offense-versus-defense segment.