The Bulldogs hit the practice field for the second time
this week Friday in preparation for their upcoming bowl game against Virginia
Tech. Friday was graduation and many of the Bulldogs seniors missed practice
to attend graduation.
One of the biggest holes the team will need to fill is
the center position.
Junior guard Fernando Velasco will be the likely
successor to senior Nick Jones at the center position next season according
to head coach Mark Richt. "It is not like coach (Neil) Callaway
and I have etched out what we are doing next season, but guess is that Fernando
would move to center fulltime and that is what I am thinking," said Richt
Freshman guard Chris Davis will also work at
center and the coaches' hope he can develop into a fulltime center by
next fall. Davis has been taking snaps with the second unit for the Bulldogs
during bowl practice.
"Chris Davis will also lineup at center and if
Chris develops to the point where we think he can start then he may be the guy.
If not Fernando may have to play center because we have to have a center who
is very capable and I know in time Chris will be, but will he be next season.
I do not know that answer, so I would say Fernando will lineup at center in
the spring too," said Richt. "Chris is one of the few guys who can
shoot his hands inside a defender and lock him out and when you do that then
you will win and when he does it right he is real good."
Kevin Perez may be in the mix at center
as well, but he has missed most of his freshman season with a dislocated elbow.
"Right now I think Velasco will be in there, Chris
Davis will be closely behind him, and Kevin may get a few snaps," said
Redshirt freshman center Ian Smith is suspended
indefinitely for a second alcohol related arrest, but coach Richt is letting
Smith participate in practice until he decides what to do with him.
"With Ian's situation being what it is, he
will certainly not play the first five games (next season)," said Richt.
"If he stays he will have at least a six game suspension counting the
Richt has not made up his mind if he will allow Smith
to return and Smith will have to clear university penalties for alcohol related
offenses before being allowed to participate in sports.
"I am still deciding what to do and I am taking
my time. My number one concern is that we can get him help and I want to do
what is best for him first off and what is best for the team too," said
Richt. "If I decide he is not allowed to stay then (he will not practice),
but right now I am not sure what to do."
Ware Pondering Future
Junior tailback Danny Ware has not officially
announced his decision to leave the University of Georgia following the Chick-fil-A
Bowl, but he would not say if he is enrolled for the spring semester.
I think (I will be enrolled in the spring), but we will
see what happens and go from there," said Ware about his future plans
at Georgia. "I am focused on getting through these bowl games and two-a-days
and helping the team get the look they need. I don't know when I will
make my decision (about returning next season), but it will be when the time
is right "
If Ware leaves for the NFL draft or for a division I-AA
school, that will leave the Bulldogs with juniors Kregg Lumpkin and
Thomas Brown as well as heralded freshman Knowshon Moreno
on the roster heading into the fall.
Players Behind Callaway
With offensive line coach Neil Callaway at the
top of the list of coaching candidates for the UAB job, some of his current
players were talking about their coach after practice Friday.
"He cares about his players on the field as well
as off the field and I feel like he is a second father to me," said junior
guard Chester Adams about Callaway. "He is kind of like a father
so I think he would be a great head coach. If he leaves we will wish he great
success wherever he goes and if he stays here that will be great too. No matter
what we will play hard for him because that is what he would want us to do."
Coach Richt hopes Callaway stays in Athens, but he wants
the best for the coach and his players.
"I do not think anyone is happy to see their coach
go, but I think they understand," said Richt about the players dealing
with losing a coach. "I think they understand how serious I am about being
here and always being that stability that will hopefully give them peace of
mind to know even if someone goes we will not change much in scheme, philosophy,
or how we treat people."
Coach Richt and the rest of the Bulldogs are awaiting
the decision from Birmingham on who will be the next coach of UAB and Callaway
will not talk about the job with the media.
Redshirts capture the spotlight
Coach Richt opened up the offensive and defense to the
healthy redshirt players on Friday allowing players like Knowshon Moreno,
Darryl Gamble, and
Reshad Jones to play with the
first team offense and defense in eleven-on-eleven.
"Knowshon is real high energy guy and he gets everybody
cranked up wanting to hit him real hard. I do not know if anyone got a real
good lick on him, but on the first play they lifted him up and body slammed
him as a group," said Richt about the offensive performance. "Tony
Wilson made a couple of nice catches. The two fullbacks Fred Munzenmaier
and Shaun Chapas both had nice short yardage runs for first downs."
On the defensive side of the ball the two freshmen safeties
impressed coach Richt.
"I saw Quintin Banks make a real nice hit on someone
coming up on a run and Reshad Jones had a nice interception," said Richt
of the defensive performance in practice. "Darryl Gamble picked up a fumble
and he would have scored if the whistle had not been blown." The coaches
used mostly players that have not had any game snaps this season or only limited
action such as freshman wide receiver Kris Durham.
Attending practice in uniform, but not practicing were
Thomas Brown, Antavious Coates, Thomas Flowers,
NaDerris Ward, and
Tight end Coleman Watson sat out practice Friday.
Senior wide receiver Sean Bailey was the only
Bulldog in a green non-contact jersey.
Other Notes and Quotes
"We are thankful for the opportunity to play another
ranked team, and I think Virginia Tech is a great opponent," said coach
Richt "If we were sitting at nine wins and in the top 15, I might say,
I am not sure about this, but we need to play a great football team to get respect.
We got some against Auburn and Georgia Tech, but we have got a ways to go for
people to think we are still a strong team."
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