Georgia's offensive line is playing nowhere near what position coach Will Friend knows it needs to be for the Bulldogs to truly becoming a contender in the SEC.
But in regards to weekly improvement, some baby steps are apparently being made.
"I think we're playing a little bit better. We've still got to improve on assignments, improve on the hat-speed, things like that," Friend said. "I thought they played extremely hard the past two weeks, but they're supposed to. It's not like it's something to jump up and down about, you're supposed to play hard, but they've done that the last three weeks and if you do that, focus and keep it one day at a time, one task at a time going forward, you're going to be all right."
Now, if they'll just stay healthy.
Entering Saturday night's game against Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1), Georgia (3-0, 1-0) has already had three of its offensive linemen go down with sprained ankles at one point or the other - including starting right tackle John Theus and starting left guard Dallas Lee - to go along with key backup Watts Dantzler.
Fortunately Theus, who suffered his injury against Missouri, never missed a game and was back starting last week's win over Florida Atlantic.
Dantzler has missed the past two games, while it remains to be seen if Lee will be able to go against the Commodores.
If not, sophomore Mark Beard is expected to open at left tackle with Kenarious Gates sliding into Lee's spot at left guard.
The Bulldogs went with that very combination when Lee excited in the second quarter against FAU, although according to Friend, Beard would have played even if the injury had not occurred.
"We had planned on playing him against Missouri, but things didn't work out and actually before Dallas came out, he was going in the third series, no matter what," Friend said. "It just so happened, that's kind of how it played out."
Friend said Beard graded out well in his first action at left tackle.
"He's a good athlete and more comfortable there. He's still got a long way to go and we do as a group. Every day is the most important deal. It's not the next opponent. The biggest thing for us is tomorrow, and the next day," Friend said. "Saturday won't become important until Saturday, against whoever it might be. Mark's got a long way to go; the whole group does, but he's shown some things to show us that he deserves to play, but you're not going to really know about him until you put him out there."
• "Zach did some good things. He's an athletic kid; he's just got to learn what to do." - Friend on redshirt freshman Zach DeBell who saw his first collegiate action last Saturday against FAU.
Jenkins No. 1 on Kiper's big board
Count freshman Jordan Jenkins among those impressed to learn that Jarvis Jones is the new No. 1 on EPSN analyst Mel Kiper's Mock Draft board.
"We were talking about that, all of us in the locker room. After I was told, I was like 'Dang, this is actually somebody I know,'" Jenkins laughed after practice Wednesday. "I just know he'd be set for life
he better watch them females."
Head coach Mark Richt was asked if he thought this would be Jones' final year with the Bulldogs.
"I'd be excited for Jarvis to be drafted that high. It's just a matter of when," Richt said. "When that day comes I'll be the first one to be genuinely thrilled for him."
Jenkins said Jones took Wednesday's news in stride.
"He just acted like it was any other day, hanging out, practicing, just like it was any other day," Jenkins said. "Everybody else was talking about it, but he never said a word."
Richt offered some good news regarding Dallas Lee, who sprained his ankle in the second quarter against Florida Atlantic.
Although Lee was listed as limited in workouts Wednesday, Richt said there's a good chance the junior will be able to play.
"He practiced against the scouts today and he looked pretty good. I'd say there's a good chance of him playing, but not a guaranteed chance," Richt said. "I think you'd have to measure a gimpy Lee compared to a healthy Beard, so even if he is given the OK to go, he still may not start or if he does start, we may rotate more than normal."
The rest of Georgia's post-practice injury report included Jones (right groin strain, limited), linebacker Josh Dawson (right shoulder sprain, limited/no contact), offensive lineman Watts Dantzler (left ankle sprain, limited/no contact), linebacker James DeLoach (right brachial plexus, limited/no contact), long snapper Nathan Theus (right shoulder sprain, limited/no contact), offensive lineman Hunter Long (left foot fracture, out), tight end Cole Trolinger (concussion, out), wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (left knee contusion, limited) and wide receiver Taylor Bradberry (right thumb sprain, limited/no contact).
Theus will stay at right tackle
As far as any notion that freshman John Theus might see some action at left tackle this fall goes, forget about it. According to Richt, it's not happening.
"I don't know if he will change to left, ever," Right said. "But if there would be a chance of getting him some reps, the spring is when you'd want to look at it."
Richt added that he'd just as soon prefer Theus become the best right tackle he can be.
"Every rep he's had has been on the right side and for a true freshman you're just trying to get them ready to play, period," Richt said. "The assignments probably wouldn't be much of an issue as opposed to just learning how to pass-set from the left side. But since he's got so many quality reps on the right, it's hard to throw a guy over, especially as a freshman."
This and that
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours in shoulder pads, shorts and helmets in preparation for Saturday night's game against the Commodores. "After reviewing the film from Tuesday's 11-on-11, it was not sporty; the number one defense versus the number two offense, it was not a good drill," said Richt. "Today, the defense was 8-for-8 in victories so that's good. I thought we finished strong, and the pass skeleton was better for the offense too. Also, I continue to be impressed with the effort of our scout team. I'm proud of them."
Jordan Jenkins said he graded out at 87 percent Saturday, his highest in three games this year.