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August 18, 2009

Washington officially has a new home

It's been one of the worst-kept secrets of preseason camp. Senior Marcus Washington is now officially a defensive end.

Head coach Mark Richt confirmed the decision following practice Tuesday at the team's Woodruff Practice Facility.

"It's where he's been working," Richt said. "He's been in every meeting with the defensive ends, taking every snap."

Listed at 6-0 and 256 pounds, Washington isn't quite as tall as most players at that position, but Richt said that could be an advantage for the former Burke County star.

"He's strong and he can play low. Playing low can win you a lot of football games," Richt said. "He's not as tall as most ends, but tackles often have trouble playing against guys that are low to the ground. Marcus is strong enough to play the run. He's excellent for Georgia, period, plus the thing is he really wants to make this work. We think he can be a special player. He's been busy cramming to learn the position. He just wants to get better."

Exactly how Washington fits into the grand scheme at defensive end remains to be seen.

With Justin Houston suspended for the first two games, Demarcus Dobbs and Roderick Battle are currently running with the first team, but there will still be plenty of opportunities for players like Washington, Kiante Tripp, Cornelius Washington and freshman Montez Robinson, who collected two sacks in Saturday night's scrimmage.

"Dobbs is playing harder than I've ever seen him play," Richt said. "Cornelius Washington is getting better and Marcus is making a lot of strides. Montez (Robinson) has come a long way and we have not ruled him out as far as playing this season."

Plenty of green on hand

Apparently, Saturday's full-pad scrimmage resulted in some walking wounded after all. Bryan Evans and Akeem Dent joined Aron White, Caleb King, Darius Dewberry and Reshad Jones on the sideline, unable to practice Tuesday due to hamstring injuries.

"I just think it happens to every single camp to everybody. Somebody is going to pull a muscle, strain a hamstring, mostly. Every now and then someone will pull a groin, it just happens," Richt said. "Rex Bradberry (UGA strength and conditioning assistant) is working on getting his PhD and I think his final work is about the hamstring injuries. He's gone back 20 years and he's like you think with more modern science you'd have less and less, but it's almost identical as it was 20 years ago. You just have X-amount of guys who pull."

Richt said none of the hamstring issues are considered serious.

"Hamstrings are funny. You get to the point where you feel like you're ready to go, but when you accelerate or burst like when the game is on the line you can come back too soon," Richt said. "I always like to tell the guys when you feel like you're ready you're still probably three or four days away, at least."

Hamstrings weren't the only injury of the day.

Freshman defensive back Jordan Love wore a plastic walking boot over his right foot, while Tripp donned a green jersey. Richt was unsure as to his injury.

There was some good news.

Clint Boling right wrist (sprain) was not enough to keep him from practicing while defensive tackle Brandon Wood practiced, albeit in a green jersey, for the first time this year after undergoing off-season shoulder and wrist surgery.

Still no decision on backup QB

Despite having two scrimmages under the Bulldogs' collective belt, Richt said he's not quite ready to ordain Logan Gray the backup quarterback, although it certainly seems that's the direction the team ultimately decides to go.

"You've got to remember, Matthew Stafford was No. 3 after our second scrimmage his freshman year and we were thinking about redshirting him," Richt said. "There's still more practices to go, this was actually our 15th which is one over halfway, so it's not over by any stretch but real soon we will break into our scout team and start working on scheming our opponents."

Richt say that Gray continues to take most of the snaps with the No. 2 unit right now.

"We're pleased with all the quarterbacks, quite frankly," he said. "We've got some outstanding talent there."

Walsh gets his kicks

The media wasn't able to watch but one official period of Tuesday's practice, but those in attendance was able to see kicker Blair Walsh put on a show.

Coaches simulating a situation where Walsh and Brandon Bogotay would attempt to make field goals with time running out on the clock.

Bogotay missed a 42-yarder, but Walsh hit five of six making good on kicks of 30, 35, 37, 48 and 57 yards. Walsh missed a 52-yarder during the same drill.

Richt has said that Walsh has the edge over Bogotay for the field goal and extra point duties, and holds a slight edge in the battle to handle kickoffs.

This and that

Richt was not pleased with Tuesday's two-hour workout, the first after classes started Monday. "It was not good enough today. It wasn't a horrible practice but it wasn't good enough to win today, in my opinion, especially who we're playing in Game One and who we are playing throughout the year," Richt said. "It wasn't good enough, but again there were some fine individual plays here and there but as a team we didn't practice hard enough, we weren't disciplined enough, we didn't have the kind of day we needed to get where we want to go."

Freshman Chris Burnette is now working fulltime at center behind Ben Jones and Kevin Perez.

Richt said he'd be in favor of shaking hands prior to the season-opener against Oklahoma State.

Richt said that Makri Pugh's days at short corner or over and will be used exclusively at safety. "He's a much more natural safety and I think he can play the nickel very well," Richt said. "I think he's found a home. After looking at the film, he made some nice, open field tackles (Saturday). I really like what I saw from Makiri."

Georgia's defense was only charged with two penalties during drills Tuesday.

Wide receiver [db]Kris Durham, out for the year with a torn labrum, dressed out in green for Tuesday's practice.



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