March 27, 2008

News and notes from Day 1

Spring ball got off to a conservative start on Wednesday with the Bulldogs looking to shake off some of the rust after a 3-month layoff. Here is some news and notes from the practice on day one as the Bulldogs look forward to big things in 2008.

The mood of the camp was upbeat and positive as Pat Hill proclaimed the 2007 season a thing of the past. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier rolled out very little of the offensive package as the team tries to focus on the fundamentals.

Quarterback Tom Brandstater looked rusty at times throwing the football but walks with a bounce in his step, which is in stark contrast to how he came into camp last year. He had control of the offense and garnered respect from his teammates.

Running back Ryan Mathews bulked up a little in his lower body from last season and says he needed to get bigger and stronger for the daily pounding. Anthony Harding and Lonyae Miller both saw plenty of action in the 7-on-7's and looked ready to compete for playing time.

Bear Pascoe was arguably the receiver/tight end that looked most ready to play as he doesn't seem to have missed a beat since his great performance in the Humanitarian Bowl. Chastin West sat out most of the practice with what appeared to be a minor injury after coming back from a season lost from injury. Marlon Moore, Devon Wylie and Seyi Ajirotutu looked ready for action on day one as they all came into camp in tremendous shape.

The offensive line was a bit of a mixed bag as center Joe Bernardi and tackle Bobby Lepori are sitting out due to off-season surgery. Lepori is not expected to return until fall practice kicks up as he battles back from a shoulder injury. Adam McDowell, Kenny Avon, Andrew Jackson, Charley Robbins and Kenny Wiggins all took reps with the first team offense as the Bulldogs looked very cautious on day one, trying to avoid any further unnecessary injuries.

The defensive line (at-best) looks like a works in progress as plenty of guys are going to get a chance to prove themselves. For the time being, Joe Monga looks like a clear choice to start inside but all three other positions could be up for grabs this spring. Adding insult to injury was the announcement that Jason Roberts will not return this season from a broken leg and likely his football career may be over. Chris Carter and Kenny Borg are two players that came into camp looking ready to make an impression and Chris Lewis, who was suspended last season, looked focused and ready to get down to business as he attempts to put his checkered past behind him.

Nico Herron looked on day one as if he may be the frontrunner to replace Marcus Riley as he practiced with Ben Jacobs and Quaadir Brown with the first unit. The three had great continuity working together and looked like a unit that could be ready to take a giant step forward in 2008.

The secondary is likely the deepest part of the team as eight or nine guys looked like they were playing for a starting position. The Bulldogs could have as many as five corners all battling for playing time in 2008 with A.J. Jefferson and Damion Owens looking like the frontrunners on day one. However, the athletics abilities of Jermaine Thomas, Isaiah Green and Sharrod Davis should make things interesting as the spring wears on.

As many as 15 walk-ons took part in the practice with most of them sitting and watching from the sidelines. Both wide receiver Michael Lindsey and defensive back Phillip Thomas took part in practice after sitting out the 2007 season as a greyshirt.

The Bulldogs will have Thursday off before heading back to the field for practice on Friday. They will put on pads for the first time on Saturday.

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