July 24, 2013

Ignoring the noise

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It's been suggested that Georgia's offense - which returns nine starters from a year ago - will need to carry the early load while the Bulldogs' young defense gets itself squared away.

Don't tell that to Bulldog offensive coordinator Mike Bobo."No, I think the offense needs to work on getting better every day. I talk all the time about ignoring the noise. Two years ago we weren't worth a crap, last year the defense was going to carry us. It don't matter. We've got to get ready to play the game the best we can," Bobo said Wednesday. "We're going to play as a team and however it goes down, whatever happens … first game, second game, all that don't matter; we've just got to get better."

This year's offense certainly has a lot to live up to.

Georgia set a school record last fall with 529 points and return a pair of potential Heisman trophy candidates in quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley.

But as Bobo is quick to add, you can't take anything for granted.

"We've got to get better so we can execute our assignment, carry out our attack against our first opponent, then our second opponent … I can't answer how you're going to win every game," he said. "There may be some games where we have to score some points, there may be some games where we're not scoring or there may be some games where we've got to hold the ball; some games we've got to score faster.

"Each game dictates sometime your philosophy. Our overall philosophy won't change, we want to be a balanced football team, we want to run the ball and throw the ball equally effectively. We want to line up physically and run some power runs at you, have some play-action pass and still be a high percentage spread football team. That's our philosophy but how we go about that each game is determined a little different each game and who we're playing."

With Clemson and South Carolina right off the bat, Bobo knows the offense will have be clicking early. "The coaches talked a lot to our guys about that, being ready to go in that first game because of the opponent but I think you want to be playing on a high level every time you step on the field," he said. "Being the first game that's going to be hard. You don't have preseason games in college football but that's something Coach (head coach Mark Richt) talks about, guys being ready to go. The way you do that is you handle your business day in and day out."

Freshmen RBs will get their shot

Although Gurley and Keith Marshall will handle the bulk of the playing time at running back, Bobo said he's still looking for a few good men.

That includes a trio of freshmen, J.J. Green, Brendan Douglas and AJ Turman.

"I'd like to have a third tailback, a fourth tailback and all three of those guys are freshmen. You do have (Kyle) Karempelis and (Brandon) Harton who have played in games and finished games for us so there are guys I do like," Bobo said. "We've got some bigger guys in Douglas and Turman and we've got to get those guys ready, get them on special teams, get them playing, get them confidence and treat them like we did Gurley and Marshall last year. We're planning on playing them, I think they're excited about it. They're smart young men, so hopefully they can pick up the offense."

There will also be competition at fullback, where Bobo said sophomore Quayvon Hicks overtook Merritt Hall for the starting role toward the end of spring.

"Quayvon is what you look for in a fullback. He's got the body type, 255-260 pounds, can run and can strike," he said. "He just had to learn the nuances of playing that position. He never played it in high school, he played nose guard but his transformation was big and he actually overtook Merritt in the spring as the starter but I see both those guys competing this fall to see who will be the guy."

Bobo says OL will compete

Yes, all five starters return for Georgia on the offensive line.

But apparently, that doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to who will line up in the opener at Clemson.

"Whoever the best five are, that's what we've got to decide," said Bobo, when asked to project the starters for fall.

That includes both the left and right tackle positions, where Xzavier Ward was listed as the starter at right tackle following spring drills ahead of John Theus who started all 14 of Georgia's games as a true freshman.

"After spring practice Xzavier was No. 1 and the first day of practice Xzavier Ward and John Theus will both get reps with the first team at right tackle and it will be an on-going battle there; it will be an on-going battle at a lot of positions," Bobo said. "We like competition and we stress competition. Nobody is guaranteed anything. It doesn't matter how many games you started last year, you've got to earn it on the field. Last year is last year. Last year's offense was last year's offense. This is whole other year, a whole other team. What we do on the field starting Aug. 1 will determine who is on the field the 31st."

Injury update

Freshman receiver Tramel Terry continues to progress from his torn ACL and will be on the field when Georgia begins its fall drills next week.

"He'll be there on a limited basis. I'm not sure whether they'll have in a green jersey, white, red or whatever color we'll be in that first week but he's going to be limited to doing as tolerated," Bobo said. "We don't want to rush him back but he'll be working his way back."

Bobo said he thinks junior wideout Michael Bennett (ACL) is close to 100 percent.

"He'll be wearing a smaller sleeve or brace but he says he feels great, feels fine and in my conversations with the quarterbacks, they like how he looks. I saw him walk around the other day, I think he's five pounds down and he looks great," Bobo said. "But he's another guy who might be on a pitch count for how many plays he plays when he's out there practicing. We just want him to be smart. He's been out there practicing all summer, going 30, 40 minutes on the grass and throwing two times a week.

"We just have to be smart. I know he's going to be anxious, Tramel Terry's going to be anxious, all your players have that nervous energy so you've got to be smart as coaches for them not to do anything too fast that might injure them or hurt their chances of getting better by missing practice.

He said it

"The guys say he's (Gurley) the silliest guy on the team. They make fun of what he wears all the time. I don't know, I don't pay attention - I think they all look silly with what they wear." - Bobo.

This and that

Bobo said Murray is down to 201, 202 pounds after playing at nearly 210 last fall. … With the departure of tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, Bobo said true freshman Jordan Davis will need to get ready to play this year.

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