Everyone wants to talk numbers when it comes to Georgia's receivers, but according to assistant coach Tony Ball everything about the position continues to add up.
"As a group I've seen us make some tremendous strides in both areas of the passing game, as well the the running game," Ball said. "Guys are working hard on the perimeter, getting better and being more competitive on the perimeter in the running game. In the passing game we're making a lot more of the catches, some of the tough catches and doing a much better job of creating space for the quarterbacks to throw the football."
Actually, Georgia's receiver numbers should be better than they were a season ago when the Bulldog made due with just six scholarship wideouts for the majority of the year.
So while it's true the Bulldog did lose Mike Moore to graduation, the return of Kris Durham who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, plus the impending arrival of freshman Michael Bennett in June will actually push that number to seven, one more than a season ago.
Sophomore Marlon Brown is expected to play a vital role.
Brown missed much of the spring with a bruised shoulder, but did return to practice in time for Georgia's next-to-last session and was able to run a few plays during Saturday's G-Day Game.
Still, Ball concedes the time away hurt Brown.
"It set him back because the only way you can get better is through repetitions," Ball said. "It slowed down his progress but he did make some progress so we can't dwell on what he hasn't had a chance to do, but we've got to find ways to take advantage of what he can."
Ball said A.J. Green hasn't been resting on any past laurels.
On the contrary:
Despite 109 catches for 1,772 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two previous years with the Bulldogs, Ball said Green continues to push himself to be better.
"He's learned to push himself on every play No. 1, getting better at his route execution and understanding what the defenses are doing," Ball said. "You can't study that enough so he's continued to learn that and especially everything he's seeing with the new defensive staff. They've showed him a lot of coverages and coverage technique, so we've all had to learn and grow as a result of that."
Ball said the change has been good for everybody involved.
"What it does is it forces you as coaches to look at what you've been doing and tweak what we've been doing from a technique perspective," Ball said. "It certainly forces your players to get better at attacking what they see, so it has helped us all but you expect that when you have change."
Having Durham and Tavarres King back will certainly help the receivers' cause.
Not only will he give the Bulldogs another experienced body, but the two who will blend in well with fellow returnees Rantavious Wooten, Israel Troupe and serve as quality mentors to Bennett this fall.
"They've (King and Durham have had good springs. Ironically, they both suffered some form of hand injury, but both have had good springs and really challenged each other," Ball said. "They've pushed each other to get better, but they've also been very positive and accepting coaching."
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