Mike Bobo took a peek at a Georgia depth chart on Wednesday and realized it was an outdated version from prior to the 2010 season.
Even since the end of spring practice, the pieces the Bulldogs offensive coordinator will have available this preseason have changed quickly.
Leading rushers Washaun Ealey and Caleb King are gone. So are offensive linemen Brent Benedict and A.J. Harmon.
“When you tend to lose people during the offseason, it kind of unnerves you a little bit,” Bobo said. “Things are going to happen. We’ve got to figure out what we can do best. Truth be told, I’m still excited about what we have coming back.
“It’s unfortunate we don’t have those guys. Would we like to have some of them? Yes, but they’re not with us and it really does no good to say what if we have them or what if we didn’t because they’re not here. We’ve got to go on.”
Nine scholarship players have left the team since the end of last season.
“Every team has dead weight, somebody pulling them back,” tight end Orson Charles said.
Coach Mark Richt said last week at Southeastern Conference Media Days that “a few guys have gotten off the bus.”
On Monday, he told Bulldogs fans in Atlanta that he instituted a stricter curfew and said he has a “little less patience” than he did in the past.
“A couple of guys left the program because they wanted to leave and a couple of guys, we helped them out the door,” Richt said.
Bobo said coaches sent the message after the 2010 season ended with a loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl, dropping the Bulldogs to 6-7 to complete Georgia’s first losing season under Richt.
“Since we got back from after the bowl game, coach Richt has made it very clear that we’re going to work and we’re going to make everybody understand that you got to pay a price and it’s something special to wear the ‘G’ and be part of the University of Georgia,” Bobo said. “It’s not going to be easy, and we’ve made it extremely tough around here. When you turn up the heat, sometimes you’re going to have guys that don’t want to be a part of it. That’s their choice.”
Ealey transferred in a mutual parting of ways.
“Coach Richt did a fairly good job of letting people go,” Charles said. “I guess they didn’t want to follow the Georgia way. I felt like it was building up and it was time to happen now. Last year, we had a couple of people that didn’t want to follow and they were still on the team. This year, I guess coach Richt said, ‘No, not this year.’ ”
Benedict transferred to Virginia Tech. Harmon is now at Alabama State.
“Some guys that aren’t here, they made their decisions, whether they were right or wrong,” junior linebacker Christian Robinson said. “I think the guys we have here, the guys that are left want to be at Georgia the most. There were some guys that didn’t always fit in and do what they were supposed to do, didn’t behave. Nothing against them, but they didn’t fit into what we need right now.”
The attrition left Georgia thin at tailback and on the offensive line.
Robinson was sad to see King go after he was declared academically ineligible. The two were teammates at Greater Atlanta Christian.
“If he hadn’t been recruited, nobody would have saw me,” Robinson said. “The guys we have on this team, the guys we have left, we have everything we need to have a great season.”
Bobo said he thinks changes made under new strength and conditioning director Joe Tereshinski will pay off this fall.
“Those guys have been through a tough regimen,” Bobo said. “I know that they feel and believe that they’ve had to fight and push to get through and that can only help them in games.”
Georgia moved linebacker Richard Samuel back to tailback, where heralded freshman Isaiah Crowell will have a chance to shine. Georgia has cornerstones on the offensive line in seniors Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones, but unproven backups.
“Obviously we lost some guys, but there’s a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys,” Bobo said. “There’s some talented guys on this football team that are going to have the opportunity to step up. I truly believe there’s plenty of talent offensively for us.”
One possible move floated by Bobo: using freshman Jay Rome as a hybrid fullback-tight end like Bruce Figgins.
“He’s a bigger guy,” Bobo said of the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Rome. “He could be that guy.
The Bulldogs are already loaded at tight end with first-team All-SEC pick Charles, Aron White and Arthur Lynch.
“People think we have depth issues,” Robinson said. “I think we just need guys to step up. We have enough guys here at Georgia to get it done.”
NOTES: Receiver Malcolm Mitchell continues to draw raves from teammates, but another freshman, Chris Sanders from Tucker, has impressed veteran teammates during summer workouts for his skills at cornerback. Bobo said reports he’s getting are that redshirt sophomore offensive guard Dallas Lee “is doing 100 times better” after missing much of the spring with asthma-like conditions. Robinson said he’s dealing with a strained hamstring that he’s rehabbing now. “I’ll be fine by camp,” he said. Georgia opens preseason practices a week from today.