Practice Report: Offense-to-defense position switch in Georgia’s spring practice

UGA football-Chris Barnes-Practice Report-position chance
Georgia offensive lineman Chris Barnes (61) was wearing the No. 97 on Tuesday and was working with the defensive line.

ATHENS — It’ll be awhile before we know exactly what it means, but there was at least one position switch spotted at Georgia’s spring practice Tuesday.

Chris Barnes, who to this point in his career has played on the offensive line, was working with defensive linemen during the Bulldogs’ 10th practice of the spring. Barnes, a redshirt sophomore from Leesburg, had switched from the No. 61 jersey to the No. 97 that big John Atkins had worn the previous five years.

Barnes had appeared in one game in his career as a guard for the Bulldogs. He played in the fourth quarter of Georgia’s win over Missouri last season. He was redshirted as a scout team his first season.

The Bulldogs currently have a lot of depth on the offensive line, and Barnes has not been seen even among the second- or third-team units in recent workouts. Conversely, Georgia is extremely thin on the defensive line. The Bulldogs have been working out with as few as nine players to rotate through four positions on the defensive front.

Georgia is currently missing one defensive linemen due to injuries in Michael Barnett. Justin Young also sat out practices last week due to a minor knee injury but was back on the field Tuesday.

Other points of interest from Tuesday.

Status quo for offensive front

Georgia’s first and second offensive line were operating as per usual Tuesday, at least during the two-period media observation window. That is, Solomon Kindley remained as the No. 1 left guard ahead of senior Kendall Baker, who is working mostly as second-team tackle. The rest of the No. 1 line was Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Lamont Gaillard at center, Ben Cleveland at right guard and Isaiah Wilson at right tackle.

To this point, at least, they are the most criticized group on Georgia’s team. But you can say this for the Bulldogs’ defensive backs, there are a lot of them. Nineteen, in fact. That’s how many were working with position coach and defensive coordinator Tuesday.

The Bulldogs’ were in full pads and Tucker were was in full-blown, midseason form, yelling at his charges to “hit them like you mean it” in bump drills. As usual, Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee were the first up in drills among the cornerbacks when they divided into specific groups. First up among the safeties were Richard LeCounte III and J.R. Reed.

Ameer Speed, who is listed as 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, continues to work with the cornerbacks. He is so much taller than the rest of the corners he looks almost out of place.

On Saturday, Smart was critical of the defensive backs, particularly the many second-year players who were recruited to Georgia to have an impact this season.

“I don’t think they’re challenging themselves mentally with learning the playbook,” Smart said. “It’s their time, and they have to step up or they’ll be replaced by the people coming in. We have to take guys that have instincts, meaning when the guy moves and goes outside, they have to go outside with them, and they can’t be slow to react. We’re not playing really well at those positions.”

Eleven of the DBs are scholarship players. Another five will join the competition when the rest of the freshmen — including 5-star cornerback Tyson Campbell — report in late May.

Making their presence known

One reason the DBs may be struggling is wide receiver continues to look like a position of strength for the Bulldogs in 2018. Led by rising senior Terry Godwin, Georgia has a lot of experience coming back at the position

On Tuesday, flanker Mecole Hardman was working at the Wildcat. He was the only non-QB in the drill. Jake Fromm, Justin Fields and Stetson Bennett were the other QBs.

Riley Ridley had a nice one-handed catch on a deep ball.

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