April 9, 2013

Summing up the DL

Chris Wilson from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

If Chris Wilson has shown anything in his early stint at Georgia's new defensive line coach it's that he pays definite attention to detail.

With that in mind, it barely took him a second to start rattling off a few names of players that have impressed him the most during spring drills.

Obviously, Sterling Bailey is a guy who has really caught our attention as a staff. He's really done some good things, but the biggest thing he's been able to do is get through healthy and get through these 14 practices so far," Wilson said of the redshirt sophomore. "But the thing I like best is he's gotten better every day."

Bailey's performance is the big reason he's currently working predominantly with the first team at right defensive end.

But he's not the only player Wilson feels has improved his game.

"The next guy who I thought really improved was Mike Thornton, followed by John Taylor," he added. "Once he (Taylor) knows what to do and how to do it, the tempo to do it, he's going to be a guy who will help us win some games."

Taylor showed his ability during Saturday's G-Day game where he recorded a pair of sacks from his defensive end position after playing nose while redshirting his freshman year.

However, Wilson made it clear that Taylor - much like most of Georgia's other defensive linemen - are not being pigeonholed into one spot.

On the contrary.

"They're all Xs to me, and I say that humbly. Sometimes coaches give you coach talk, but I deal with the situation from a football standpoint and I'll play the best guys," Wilson said. "Sometimes, depending on a matchup, he might be a nose guard, another time a defensive end. I don't see him being a stand-up guy, so I can definitely exclude that from the menu, but he's a guy with ability, if he knows what to do, he can play all three downs for us. He can play nose, three-technique, anything you ask."

Early enrollees [dB]Chris Mayes[/db] and John Atkinsf, meanwhile, are both still learning what to do.

Atkins missed Tuesday's practice after suffering a left knee sprain on Saturday, but before the injury was starting to show Wilson some positive signs, although there's still a lot of work to do.

"He's made progress, but he's a guy whose learning and that's the biggest thing that you notice. He's just trying to learn our defense," Wilson said. "We do a lot, and we expect our guys to know how to do it well. He's got a lot to catch up to, so that's why this summer is really big for him."

Meanwhile, Thornton at nose and Garrison Smith at left end are virtually assured starting roles when the Bulldogs open their season at Clemson on Aug. 31.

"They're the most experienced as we have right now, so I would say yes," Wilson said. "But there's a lot of competition. I think there are some guys who may have some different ability, some different attributes, are bigger, maybe some are more athletic so the competition is there. But the one thing you can't teach is experience which is what those guys have."

Wilson did have some good news regarding recent signee Toby Johnson, who continues to rehab after tearing his ACL last year.

"He's right at 80 percent healthy, and we expect once things are cued academically he will come right in and hopefully he is ready by June and ready to begin summer workouts," Wilson said. "Toby fits right in along the same lines as John Taylor. He's athletic enough and strong enough to do both, and like I said earlier, the thing I want to do is find the best matchups for Georgia. We're going to put our best guys on their guys. When you've got guys who are athletic and know the system, who know our defense, it kind of makes you buy in and that's where we've got to get to if we want to win it all."

Wilson also confirmed that incoming freshman DeAndre Johnson is ticked for nose.

As for junior end Ray Drew, Wilson said he's had no complaints.

"I've been pleased with Ray because I didn't look at Ray's stars. I looked at the things that he did during the season and then I looked at what he did this spring and I've seen progress," Wilson said. "It's like anything, the more he plays the better he's going to get. I like where he's at."

NOTES: Offensive line coach Will Friend said he was anything but pleased with the performance of his starting offensive line during Saturday's G-Day game. "I didn't think the Red team played with enough effort, I was disappointed in that. It looked like we were just trying to get through the day," Friend said. "I thought the White (Black) team did some good things, but overall we didn't play well and didn't get the kind of effort that we expect out of them." As for sophomore tackle John Theus, Friend said he will continue to rotate him, Kenarious Gates and Mark Beard at left tackle before making any sort of starting decision. During the three periods the media was allowed to watch Tuesday's practice, Theus worked primarily at right tackle. … Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said Ramik Wilson will continue working with the ones at Mike linebacker, but stopped short of guaranteeing he would be the starter against Clemson . … Linebacker Ryne Rankin (left ankle sprain) was still listed on Georgia's post-practice report, but according to Olivadotti, was able to get in some light work. … Tight end Jay Rome missed practice with a right hip flexor strain. … Georgia will hold its last practice of the spring Thursday afternoon.