August 16, 2013

Secondary concerns

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With the opener against Clemson now just two weeks away, Georgia coach Mark Richt is starting get a little antsy regarding the overall health of his secondary.

Green is definitely not his favorite color.

As the Bulldogs rapped up their 17th practice Friday afternoon, Richt conceded it's getting close to the time where he'll need to start getting some of his walking wounded back on the field.

"It looks banged up. You can't hardly get better if you don't practice, you can learn some things watching, film room, study … you can learn but unless you're out there you can't get good at anything," Richt said. "But it's also important for us to know what they're comprehending, what they're able to execute and we just haven't had enough healthy guys to becomes as good as we can be."

Safety is where much of Richt's concern lies.

The Bulldogs opened preseason camp already knowing they would be without Josh Harvey-Clemons against the Tigers due to a suspension.

But as practice began, so did the injuries.

Friday, safeties Tray Matthews, cornerback back Sheldon Dawson and safety Marc Deas each wore the green non-contact jersey, while safeties Corey Moore (sprained knee) and Shaquille Fluker (illness/lumbar strain) were nowhere to be seen during the three periods the media was allowed to watch Friday's drills.

Cornerback Damian Swann said the group is doing the best that it can.

"We're still doing our thing, and a lot of guys are getting reps," he said. "It's just going to be up to the coaches to pick who they need and feel can get the job done."

Moore's injury appears to be of particular concern.

When asked if he had any idea when the Griffin junior might be back, Richt was blunt.

"No, I don't," he said.

According to the Bulldog coach, what make's Moore's loss so disturbing is that he had just completed an excellent summer and was having an outstanding camp before the injury occurred.

"He was in great shape and everybody was taking notice," Richt said. "He had gotten the attention of the staff, but now he gets beat up and can't work."

Matthews, fortunately, is expected back for Week 1.

Thursday, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the Newnan native is on pace with his recovery and hopes he'll be able to participate in next Wednesday night's final scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.

Leonard gets kudos

Unprompted, Richt started out Friday's post-practice press conference singing the praises of freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.

"He just practices so hard. He's relentless. His head's still spinning learning stuff but he's really impressed me how hard he practices on a daily basis," Richt said. "He's going to get better and better because of it. There's other guys, but he really stood out to me. He's been standing out to me for a while."

Floyd has worked at both the Will and the Sam positions, but of late has been seeing most of his action at Sam with sophomore James DeLoach.

"He's looked really good," fellow outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "He's looked pretty good for a while."

Listed at 220 pounds on Georgia's preseason roster, Richt estimates Floyd's probably a big bigger than that.

"I don't know, but I think he weighs more than that," Richt said. "But my guess would be in the 235 range, something like that."

O'Neal and Bellamy draw praise

Richt also had some kind words to say about inside linebacker Johnny O'Neal, who apparently had the hit of the day during Friday's practice.

"He knocked the guy back," Richt said. "I grabbed him by the facemask and said 'That's why we signed you, son.' (O'Neal) is a big thumper. He's stout in that hole inside. I don't know who the back was, but he rejected the guy when he hit him. It was great to see that little glimpse of what he can do when he's in the right place."

Fellow freshman Davin Bellamy impressed as well.

"He really showed me something," Richt said. "It might have been because he's got fresher legs and hasn't gotten a ton of reps, but with the action he got, he took advantage of it. We've got a lot of young cats trying to get their positions."

Picture Day set for Saturday

The annual Fans' Picture Day will be held Saturday in the Reed Plaza area of Sanford Stadium and will feature Richt, football players, cheerleaders, other UGA athletic teams and mascot, "Uga IX."

No outside items may be brought in for signatures, but the UGA Athletic Association will provide fans with two free schedule posters.

Special ticket coupons are required for access to the location for Uga IX and Richt. Those tickets will be distributed to the first 150 fans at 8:00 a.m. from the East End ticket windows on East Campus Road.

The Georgia cheerleaders, Dance Dawgs, and Hairy Dawg will be available from 1-5 p.m. Uga IX and other University of Georgia sports teams will be available from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Georgia football players will be on hand for autographs from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Richt will also be available from 3-5 p.m. for those with ticket coupons.

Concessions will be available in several areas of Reed Plaza. Fans can purchase UGA merchandise at the UGA Bookstore located in the Tate Center. The bookstore will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This and that

Richt said left tackle Kenarious Gates has a strained neck and did not practice Friday, but does not expect him to be out long. In his place, Kolton Houston received some reps as the No. 2 left tackle behind Mark Beard. Georgia did not release its post-practice injury report. … The Bulldogs practiced for 90 minutes Friday afternoon in full pads before hitting the field again early on Saturday. "I thought we had a really good practice today," Richt said. "It was a little bit shortened because we are going to have a quick turnaround tomorrow morning before Picture Day. I liked the energy of the day."

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