Practice report: Georgia still ‘getting after it’ in preparation for MTSU

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Kirby Smart was in the middle of the action as always during Monday's practice, viewing an offense vs. defense drill from right behind the linebackers.

ATHENS — Things are rolling for the Georgia Bulldogs, and apparently they’re going pretty well for the university they represent. So says Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who opened his weekly news conference on Tuesday by citing some academic statistics rather those produced on the football field.

“I’d like to take a minute to congratulate the university and President (Jere) Morehead on the latest U.S. News and World Report of the 13th ranking in public institutions,” Smart said. “I think that’s pretty special. We sell that hard in recruiting. And anytime you’ve got a top-15 university, a public institution, it sells itself. That’s something that we’ve been really proud of and I know the university’s proud of that stat and will continue to climb in those rankings each year.”

If Morehead is anything like his football coach, he no doubt has designs on running down the nation’s No. 1 team, which at the moment happens to be UCLA. And don’t even get him started on that No. 8 spot. It’s currently shared by Georgia Tech and Florida. No way Smart would stand for trailing those guys!

As it is, Smart has his hands full leading Georgia’s No. 3-ranked football team. He was busy doing that Monday afternoon as the Bulldogs returned to Woodruff Practice Fields to begin preparations for Saturday’s tilt against Middle Tennessee State. For what it’s worth, MTSU drew a 230-to-310 ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Tier 2.”

So clearly Georgia can whip the Blue Raiders academically. Las Vegas is betting the Bulldogs can handle them on the football field as well. They posted them as a 31.5-point favorite.

As for Monday’s practice:

  • The Bulldogs worked out for two hours in shorts and shoulder pads under overcast skies and with a slight, cool breeze.
  • Freshman cornerback Divaad Wilson is still wearing a metal knee brace on his surgically-repaired right knee, but he is now participating in position drills.
  • Yes, freshman Cade Mays continues to work with the No. 1 offense at left tackle. Senior Kendall Baker was coming in behind him with the second team.
  • Junior defensive back Tyrique McGhee (foot) played some against South Carolina last Saturday but was on an exercise bike for some of Monday’s practice. He moved fine when on the field during position drills.
  • There are few things in this world that could look smaller than the number 3 jersey that Jordan Davis is wearing in practice. It’s a scout-team number. The 6-foot-6, 345-pound freshman noseguard wears 99 for the Bulldogs, which seems to fit better.
  • Rodrigo Blankenship and the Georgia place-kickers were practicing on a special goal post on which the uprights are five yards apart. When warming up, the SEC’s reigning special teams player of the week often lines up on one sideline or the other and tries to send his kicks directly over the outermost upright.
  • Freshman defenders were getting a lot of personal attention from Smart on Monday. During observation he was seen lending pointers to linebacker Channing Tindall and defensive backs Otis Reese and Chris Smith.

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