Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Scrimmage Report


Two touchdown receptions by tight end Jay Rome highlighted the Georgia football team’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium on Saturday morning.

Rome, a redshirt freshman, hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hutson Mason during regulation, then pulled down a leaping touchdown pass from Parker Welch during goal-line drills at the end of the scrimmage.

“Jay Rome had two touchdowns today, and that was nice to see,” coach Mark Richt said. “His one catch during goal-line was pretty acrobatic. He had to turn his body and reach back to snag it. It was a really nice catch.”

The Dawgs had offensive drives begin on various parts of the field, with first-teamers vs. first-teamers and second-teamers vs. second-teamers. Rome had the only touchdown during regulation, and Jamie Lindley kicked a field goal.

Quarterback Aaron Murray was 9-of-18 for 74 yards, followed by Mason at 5-of-12 for 59 yards and Christian LeMay at 2-of-7 for 44 yards. Justin Scott-Wesley led the receivers with 51 yards on three grabs. Marlon Brown had two catches for 37 yards and Rome followed with his 30-yarder. The ground game was fairly evenly spread out: Brandon Harton (8-24), Kyle Karempelis (8-22), Keith Marshall (5-18), Isaiah Crowell (4-19) and Ken Malcome (4-13). Malcome and Crowell each scored a touchdown in the goal-line drills.

Safety Shawn Williams paced the defense with 4.5 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception that he returned 34 yards. End Ray Drew and cornerback Branden Smith each had four tackles. Nose Mike Thornton and linebacker Chase Vasser each had 3.5 sacks (which are subjective as the play is blown dead before contact is made with the quarterback). Georgia’s defense registered 12 “sacks” on the day. Linebacker Mike Gilliard also had an interception.

“I just see guys making plays all around,” Richt said. “On every snap, it seems like someone does something well.”

Richt announced Saturday that defensive back Marc Deas has decided to transfer to seek more playing time at another school. Deas met with Richt Friday and informed him of his decision. Earlier, Richt announced a similar decision by defensive end Derrick Lott.

“They love Georgia and we love them,” Richt said. “They had a choice to make. They decided to move on. They’re great kids and we wish them well. ... Their teammates understand they’ve got decisions to make and lives to live. No one likes losing a teammate, but we love them and if they think their best chance is at another school then I think their teammates understand.”

During Richt’s post-scrimmage media briefing, he was asked about off-the-field issues.

Said Richt, “At Georgia, we’ve got rules and policies that we feel are in the best interest of the players — things like going to class, going to tutors and study hall, and how to behave. Everything we do and every rule we have is to benefit these guys and the team. A lot of our discipline does involve playing time. That’s the one thing guys covet the most. When you discipline guys and take away playing time, you’re hoping that sticks enough where it will change that individual’s behavior so it’s better in the future. We’re willing to carry it out, even if it hurts. We have high accountability for everyone. If a guy makes a mistake, we handle it. We don’t just let it go by. Those are the expectations we have. If you do right, you’re rewarded. If you don’t, you get disciplined. That’s part of learning, part of growing.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lott To Transfer


DSC_7897University of Georgia junior defensive lineman Derrick Lott has decided to transfer in order to obtain more playing time according to an announcement Friday by coach Mark Richt.

Lott played in five career games and has recorded 10 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

"Derrick and I met and he believes he will have opportunities for more playing time elsewhere," said Richt. "We support him and will assist in any way possible during this process.

Georgia’s football team practiced for an hour and 15 minutes during its third session of the week at the Woodruff Practice Fields on Friday evening.

The Dawgs will return to work early Saturday morning for their first scrimmage of the spring. Following Friday’s practice, head coach Mark Richt was pleased with his team’s work.

“I thought we got better today,” said Richt. “The offensive line is coming around and opened up some holes today. Our backs were slashing. I thought we got a good day’s work done.”

Highlighted by featured speaker and retired coaching legend Bobby Bowden, approximately 240 high school coaches from Georgia and surrounding states attended the second day of the UGA Spring Football Clinic on Friday.

In addition to Bowden, former Dawg greats David Greene and Jon Stinchcomb also spoke at the clinic as various high school coaches led meetings during the morning hours.

Bowden was Richt’s mentor and head coach when Richt held multiple positions at Florida State in the 1990s to 2000. Richt said he enjoyed having Bowden, as well as the high school coaches, to Athens.

“It’s always a treat for me to see and to hug Coach Bowden’s neck,” said Richt. “I look forward to any opportunities I have to tell him how much I appreciate him since he has meant so much to my life. I also want to thank all of the high school coaches for coming to our clinic and wish them safe travels as they head home.”

Including Saturday morning’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, Georgia has seven practices left before the annual spring G-Day game on April 14.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dawgs Resume Spring Practice


The Georgia football team continued its spring drills on Tuesday afternoon, working out in shells at the Woodruff Practice Fields for two-and-a-half hours.

The defense prevailed once again, but coach Mark Richt sees noticeable improvements on the offensive side of the ball.

“The defense won the day again,” Richt said after practice. “Still the offense is making progress. We still have a ways to go, but I am really pleased with everyone’s efforts.”

Assistant coach Scott Lakatos echoed Richt’s sentiments, noticing improvement on both sides of the ball.

“Coming off a weekend, scrimmage-type practice, I thought the players came out focused,” Lakatos said. “Once the guys got it rolling, they maintained the competitive nature that they have about them. We finished practice stronger than when we started, and we are looking to carry that forward as we go into Thursday.”

The Dawgs will practice 10 more times this spring, culminating with the annual G-Day game on Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m., inside Sanford Stadium.

This week's University of Georgia Spring Football Coaches Clinic will feature a presentation covering two vital issues which recently were instituted by the Georgia High School Association ­heat-acclimatization and emergency planning.

High school football coaches from throughout the state will be in Athens on Thursday and Friday for the clinic. On Friday afternoon, all attendees will take part in the presentation on heat and emergency issues led by Ron Courson, UGA Athletics' Assistant AD for Sports Medicine; Michael S. Ferrara, PhD, ATC, associate head of UGA's department of Kinesiology; Andrew Grundstein, UGA associate professor of Geography and climatologist; and Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).

"Heat acclimatization and emergency planning are two vital issues that can help ensure the safety and well-being of athletes at every level," Courson said. "We're excited about the opportunity to inform and educate a number of high school coaches in this setting."

Last week, Georgia became the latest state to adopt recommendations from the National Athletic Trainers' Association regarding heat acclimatization. The guidelines require approximately 10-14 days to acclimatize to heat stress with gradual acclimatization to these conditions to minimize the risk of exertional heat illness (EHI).

Three years ago, the GHSA decided to develop guidelines to protect the health and safety of its athletes and partnered with the Georgia Athletic Trainers' Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations Foundation and the National Athletic Trainers' Association Research & Educational Foundation to fund a University of Georgia study that looked at the rate of EHI.

"Heat stroke is a preventable death with proper acclimatization of the athlete, recognition of the condition and immediate and rapid cooling when a heat stroke is suspected," said Ferrara, who co-directed the study. "Our previous research shows heat illness rates are highest in the Southeast."

"We wanted to develop a policy that would be practical and allow student athletes exposure to the environmental conditions but be as safe as possible," said Swearngin. "We are confident that we are taking the right steps and passing the right measures to provide the best care for our young athletes."

The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) also recently provided an overview of guidelines for emergency planning in athletics. The guidelines are designed to provide physicians, athletic trainers, coaches, athletic staff, school administrators, institutional and organizational safety personnel and parents with recommendations for managing medical emergencies at all levels of athletics. A template for an emergency action plan (EAP) has been developed by NATA and will be outlined during Friday's session.

"Although most sports injuries are relatively minor, life-threatening injuries are unpredictable and can occur without warning," said Courson, who helped develop the EAP guidelines. "Due to a relatively low incidence of catastrophic injuries, those tasked with overseeing organized athletics often develop a false sense of security."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Practice Continues


The Georgia football team took to the Woodruff Practice Fields under sunny skies on Saturday afternoon, as it continued spring practice.

Saturday’s practice was the first time that the players have competed in full pads this spring, which brought out a high level of intensity among the players.

“It was a very spirited practice today,” coach Mark Richt said. “It was the first day in full pads and the first time we have been able to tackle, hit below the waist and play some real football. I thought the guys competed very hard today and I saw some good things happening out there.”

The defense continued to shine, but Richt noticed improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

“The defense won the day again, but it wasn’t a shutout like the last time, which tells me the offense is improving and making progress,” Richt continued. “We are going to continue to work hard and get better every day.”

Georgia will practice three times next week, returning to the practice fields on Tuesday, March 27th.

The Dawgs will practice 11 more times this spring, culminating with the annual G-Day game on Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m., inside Sanford Stadium.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dawgs Open Spring Practice


DSC_6838The Georgia football team opened its 2012 spring camp with a two-hour workout in shorts and helmets Tuesday at the Woodruff Practice Fields. The team will hold 14 more practices over the next four weeks, including the annual G-Day game April 14 at 3 p.m.

“It was fun to be out there and practice football again,” said coach Mark Richt. “We had great weather. It was probably a little bit warmer than they would’ve hoped, but it’s better than freezing rain. An awful lot of work got done today, even though we weren’t running into each other. A lot of guys got reps. Spring is a great time of the year when there are no scout teams, so when everybody gets a rep, they get a quality rep on the side of the ball they came to play.”

Among the players to get reps at cornerback on Tuesday was rising sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, who earned All-SEC honors for the Dawgs as a receiver in 2011.

“It was fun to watch Mitchell get out there and compete,” Richt said. “You could tell he wasn’t quite sure what to do every play, but he is playing with a lot of enthusiasm and certainly can break on the ball and change direction. I like how our cornerbacks did in general. They did a nice job. “

Tuesday marked the first college practice for freshman tailback Keith Marshall and freshman quarterback Faton Bauta, who enrolled at UGA in January. It was also the first practice at Georgia for junior college offensive lineman Mark Beard.

“You can tell Marshall has very good quickness and very good speed,” Richt said. “He seems to have good running instincts. For a guy in his first college practice and considering everybody else knows the system, I thought he did a pretty good job. You can tell he did an awful lot of studying from the moment he got here until now to be able to function like he did.”

Georgia will practice again on Wednesday and Thursday. Following an off day on Friday, the Dawgs will return to the practice fields Saturday morning.

Thomas To Transfer


DSC_5692Tailback Carlton Thomas has decided to transfer to another school for his senior season according to coach Mark Richt.

"This decision was based solely on the fact that this is my last year to play and my parents and I felt like it was the right move to make,” said Thomas.

“I want to make more of an impact on the field. I didn't want to disrupt Georgia's team and preparation for next season so I made the final decision to leave earlier rather than later in the year. I have learned a lot from the coaches during my time at Georgia and have grown as a man so I appreciate the opportunity that being a Dawg has given me. I connected with the University of Georgia during my time in Athens on a personal level and will never forget the relationships I developed and the life lessons I learned. I know I will take everything I learned over the last several years and try to spread that knowledge wherever life takes me in the future."

“Carlton came to me recently to discuss his thoughts,” said Richt. “I understand his decision and appreciate all the contributions he’s made to our program. We wish him nothing but the very best in continuing his football career.”

A native of Frostproof, Fla., Thomas has played in 27 career games including two starts. His career totals include 159 carries for 725 yards and four touchdowns.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pre-Spring Football Press Conference


Coach Mark Richt said Monday the Dawgs will use the upcoming spring practice to focus on fundamentals in preparation for the 2012 season.

The Dawgs are scheduled to begin spring practice on Tuesday, March 20, and the team will hold 15 practices over a four-week period that culminates with the G-Day Game on April 14.

“We are really looking forward to kicking off spring ball,” Richt said. “With spring ball you have to start out making sure you are teaching the fundamentals of the game well. Guys like to talk about schemes offensively and defensively and special teams, but if you get everybody where they are supposed to be and they can’t make the tackle when they get there or they can’t wrap up the football when they are tackled to the ground, then you aren’t going to be good enough. Fundamentally we have to make sure we are doing those things.”

Richt said Monday that one of the changes made during the offseason was a reinstatement of mat drills. The Dawgs did not participate in mat drills last year, instead focusing more on building the team’s strength and muscle mass.

“Last year for the first time we didn’t do our mat drills because we wanted to get bigger and we wanted to get stronger, and we accomplished that,” Richt said. “This year we reinstated our mat drills once a week. We got what we wanted as far as the intensity, change of direction and football position, discipline and accountability. It was a little bit of a shock for a few of those guys who had never had a taste of it.”

It was also announced Monday that Richt will receive a three-year contract extension. The extension, added to his existing contract, gives Richt a total of five years, which will take him through the 2016 season.

“I’m excited about the contract,” Richt said. “I’ve never really changed my stance on how I feel about Georgia from the first day I had the opportunity to be here. My goal and my wife Katharyn’s goal was to build our life in Athens, Ga., raise our children here and finish my coaching career here. That thought has never changed for me. I’m thankful that Greg McGarity and the University of Georgia are excited about me continuing on as the head coach.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also agreed to a two-year extension to the existing year left on his original contract. The new three-year deal will take him through the 2014 season.

Richt also addressed the recent arrest of cornerback Branden Smith.

“Unfortunately Branden got himself into trouble,” Richt said. “I did get a phone call this morning. I don’t know all the details yet, but we are working on that.”

The annual G-Day Game will be held April 14th at 2 p.m. at Sanford Stadium.

Dawgs Announce S&C Additions


John Thomas, Director of Football Strength and Conditioning at Penn State the past 20 years, has been named Sr. Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Monday by coach Mark Richt.

Thomas, 1997 National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, had also served as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point). He is a graduate of Muskingum College (Ohio).

Richt also announced that Sherman Armstrong, founder and head performance specialist at Vast Sports Performance, has been named Associate Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Armstrong’s duties at Vast included training competitors in speed, agility, and quickness on the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Armstrong is a four-time All-American and two-time Olympic Trials finalist in the 400 hurdles.