‘Bulldozer’ Douglas evolving into UGA’s best pass protector

For the first time he can remember, Brendan Douglas won’t be roaming the greens of Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week.

AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto
Georgia running back Brendan Douglas (22) runs with the ball during the second half the NCAA college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

The Augusta native and Aquinas graduate has witnessed some of the tournament’s magic — like when former Bulldog Bubba Watson won the green jacket two years ago.

“I was on hole 10 when he won,” Douglas said. “We were sitting right there and hoping they would go to a playoff and they ended up going to one and I think they tied the first playoff hole, which was 18, and then they went to 10 and I saw him win, so that’s pretty cool.”

But he will have missed the first three rounds of the tournament for good reason — his first G-Day spring game — though he said he came into some tickets for Sunday’s final round.

“Big weekend for me,” he said Tuesday with a smile.

The rising sophomore built a reputation in his first season for running over opposing defenders while rolling up 363 yards and three touchdowns on 84 carries.

“He’s a bulldozer back there, really,” quarterback Hutson Mason said. “Just kind of cleans up everybody else’s mistakes.”

But he also has two glaring mistakes he won’t forget — his untimely fumbles against Missouri and Vanderbilt. Both came as the Bulldogs were carrying momentum to score while trying to make comebacks. They wound up losing both games.

“It was pretty tough, those two fumbles I had last year,” he said. “It was just really bad timing I guess. I wouldn’t say I fumbled a lot, but it was just the timing of the fumbles that was really bad. Just got to work on (ball security) and work on it every day.”

With those fumbles came an early lesson in mental toughness, though.

“(It) made me just realize that you got to get over that kind of stuff and just start over and start new and be positive even though negative things happen,” Douglas said.

He has a couple things going for him now that he didn’t have in fall camp last year — an easier time navigating the playbook and a more thorough understanding of the offense.

“He understands better how the blocking schemes develop, so he makes better decisions because of that,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

Added Douglas: “I was telling somebody a couple weeks ago, it’s so much easier. Not relaxed, but less stressful knowing the offense and knowing a lot more than I did in the fall coming in. It’s a whole lot easier.”

Having a 5-foot-11, 202-pound frame that is “thick,” as Mason put it, doesn’t hurt anything. And Douglas is trying to add about five pounds in the weight room this spring.

All of that to further separate himself as Georgia’s best pass protector in the backfield, Richt said.

“Much better pass protector, probably the best pass protector we got right now as a running back,” he said. “He’s got good vision.”

Added Mason: “The comment that Coach Richt said is 100 percent accurate. He’s a big, thick kid, so you know when we play very good teams with big linebackers that his body can hold those beatings and picking up those big guys in the middle. He knows his plays, he knows what he’s doing. He’s a great guy to have back there.”

Douglas said he sees himself as the No. 2 running back behind Todd Gurley with Keith Marshall still limited as he recovers from his ACL injury. He said the stable of running backs — which will get two more this summer with the arrival of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel — is advantageous for the team, not a downside for his playing time.

But for now, he has his first G-Day game and the final round of the Masters to look forward to until summer workouts and fall camps roll around.

“Football season is coming around to corner, so I’m ready to get out there and play in front of some people,” Douglas said.

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