March 17, 2009

Richt pleased with first day

By most accounts, Georgia' first day of spring practice went about how head coach Mark Richt expected it would.

Not that he considered that a bad thing. On the contrary:

"You can see certain veterans that just understand the system, they're in tremendous shape and their technique is outstanding," Richt said. "(Wide receiver) Michael Moore is an example of that. (Cornerback) Prince Miller is an example of that. You can just see guys like that can understand what's going on out there. Mostly, everyone of the seniors knows what's going on, but there's a pretty good gap between the guys who understand what to do and the ones who are still unsure. But that's to be expected. That's what these first few days are about, teaching and hopefully where you can get it enough to compete full speed."

Much of Richt's early attention was focused on freshmen quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, who along with offensive lineman Dallas Lee are the Bulldogs' three early enrollees taking part in their first collegiate drills.

As expected, their days met with mixed results.

"(Tuesday) was a day to gauge a lot of things and they were typical true freshmen, being a little nervous and had a hard time hitting their targets, not good with their footwork, still learning to call plays in the huddle and learning their cadence," Richt said. "But there's no question that these are two very talented guys. We're excited at how they can throw the ball and Coach (Mike) Bobo has been very happy with them in the meeting room and quickly they've picked up things off the board."

Richt's only regret Tuesday was that more players could not take part in the first of the spring's 15 practices.

Green jerseys dotted the Woodruff Practice Facility everywhere he turned.

"We've got over 20 guys that could have been playing who are not," Richt said. "Last year we had four who could not participate. When we started our mat drill program this year, we were already well over 20."

But not all the players in green simply stood idly by.

Left tackle Trinton Sturdivant (ACL) watched intently as offensive line coach Stacy Searels put his charges through their initial paces, while Jeff Owens did the same with the rest of the defensive linemen.

Richt praised the leadership of senior quarterback Joe Cox, but also had kind words for backup Logan Gray who he said was particularly impressive on this first day.

"Logan had a very good today. It's very obvious he knows what to do, his footwork was right, he knew how to play-fake, run the boot-leg and threw the ball extremely well," Richt said. "We've taken Logan out of any special teams meetings the rest of the spring so he'll spend the entire time in quarterback meetings and go through all the quarterback drills."

Running back Caleb King got a quick leg up on the competition for the starting tailback spot where he's currently competing for the top spot with redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas with Richard Samuel and Dontavius Jackson out for spring with their respective injuries.

"Caleb has a great chance to show the coaches that he knows what he's doing and he looked good today," Richt said. "He lined up with No. 1 unit today with Richard not participating but Carlton got in some good work, too. He's coming along."

Georgia will practice again on Wednesday and Friday before going full pads for the first time Saturday morning in preparation for the G-Day Game scheduled for April 11 at Sanford Stadium.

NOTES: With Pro Day set to begin Thursday at approximately 10 a.m., many of the former Bulldogs scheduled to take part are already in Athens. That list includes Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Dannell Ellerbe who attended Tuesday's practice. … Former Bulldog and current NFL free agent George Foster was also on hand. … Twenty-nine media members were on hand for the Bulldogs' first day of spring drills. … Redshirt freshman Jeremy Longo did not practice today suffering from an undisclosed illness but is expected back Wednesday. … Richt said son Jon, who asked for his release from Clemson, will transfer to either a Football Championship Subdivision team (I-AA) or one in Division II. Richt said his son would like to stay in state, but has not ruled out looking elsewhere if an opportunity does not arise. Jon Richt made his decision to leave Clemson last Monday, but his father joked that he did not find out until Wednesday as he was in Mexico with the rest of the coaches on their annual pre-spring retreat and did not have his cell phone turned on.

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