First games are all about new beginnings, and according to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, there's a couple first-year players he anxious to get a chance to see.
While outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and Josh-Harvey Clemons have received much of the preseason acclaim, former Tucker standout Josh Dawson is someone else who is expected to receive an opportunity in next week's opener against Buffalo.
"Josh Dawson is playing. He's done a really good job. He continues to get better every day. He's made strides every day to play so he's definitely going to play," Grantham said. "James (DeLoach) is still doing a good job and I still see him playing, but we'll still have to wait and see how it goes, both those guys have a bright future, but Josh is definitely playing."
So far, Grantham apparently likes what he's seen, adding he does not see the day when the 250-pound Dawson plays any position other than his current spot at outside linebacker.
He also sees a future similar to that of a current teammate - senior Cornelius Washington.
"I sort of compare him to Cornelius Washington," Grantham said. "He can do those kinds of things and I've been very pleased with his progress. I'm looking forward to watching him play Saturday."
• Regarding Washington, Grantham had this to say: "He's going to play end and outside linebacker. He's played both, when he puts his hand in the dirt as a true defensive lineman you have some athletic ability, a little bit of mismatch on guards sometimes," he said. "That's a benefit and because of his body type and athletic ability, he can still play outside on the edge and give you some pass rush out there. So, he's going to play both in the rotation and I think he's going to have a really good year."
• Regarding Mike Thornton at defensive end: "We're trying to find ways to get him on the field. I think Mike's done a nice job of working hard and doing things like we want them done. With John (Jenkins) and Kwame (Geathers) there it might be hard to get him snaps at nose so we've given him some reps at end for 'what-if' because injuries happen and it's better served to keep those guys at nose and have another end instead of moving one of those guys to end and let Mike play nose. I don't think it's good to move two positions because then you might not be as sound at either position."
Plans for RBs still up in the air
Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said he's like the rest of the Bulldog Nation - he's anxious to see what freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are able to do in their first collegiate game.
"I'm sure they will be anxious, but they've been in the spotlight before," McClendon said. "Those guys came up in it and handled it. Both real even-keeled guys, so you just want to make sure their focus stays right. That hasn't been an issue and I don't foresee it being an issue."
However, as far as how many reps each might see, McClendon is not ready to say.
"I'm going to try to make sure those guys get it going as early as possible," he said. "But you don't want to pull anybody out of a rhythm as well, so if they're feeling good and one guys looks like he's starting to catch on, then he may get most of the shares, but I don't foresee it the case of just one guy outdoing the others, but we'll see."
Other running back notes:
• McClendon said the competition at running back is "the stiffest that I can remember it being around here."
• Richard Samuel will continue split time between tailback and fullback "as long as he can possibly can."
Merritt Hall is listed at 1-A at fullback, and will start next week's opener. Samuel is 1-B, said McClendon, added that freshman Quayvon Hicks will also play.
This and that
The Bulldogs held a "practice game" in full pads at the stadium featuring two quarters of play against their scout team. Thursday's two-hour session addressed any scenarios that were not covered during Wednesday's action as the team worked out in jerseys, shoulders pads, helmets and shorts.
Movie star Samuel L. Jackson attended Thursday's practice and spoke briefly to the team. Earlier, UGA basketball coach Mark Fox tweeted that he played a round of golf with Jackson. "I like his temperament," Grantham said.
Inside Georgia football - No Regrets: The 2012 Georgia Bulldogs preview will air Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on CSS. The show will feature exclusive interviews leading up the 2012 season and an inside look at the Bulldogs' preseason camp. It can also be seen again at midnight on WSB. Also, a UGA preseason radio special with hosts Scott Howard, Neil Williamson, Eric Zeier, DJ Jones and Kevin Butler will also air Sunday from 1-3 p.m. on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.
No injury report was released to the media Thursday.