Georgia‚Äôs depth behind star tailback Todd Gurley is bolstered this preseason by the return of junior Keith Marshall after ACL surgery to go along with sophomore Brendan Douglas.
Freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb give running backs coach Bryan McClendon five scholarship tailbacks at his disposal heading into the season.
‚ÄúRight now they‚Äôve got to prepare like they‚Äôre going to play and I‚Äôve got to prepare them like they‚Äôre going to play so right now that‚Äôs the plan,‚Äù McClendon said Tuesday. ‚ÄúMy plan right now is to get those guys ready to play versus Clemson.‚Äù
Adding a pair of five-star players to the position gives Georgia two potential playmakers and at least insurance if the Bulldogs battle injuries like a year ago when Marshall was lost in early October and Gurley battled ankle and hip injuries.
Georgia already is without A.J. Turman, expected to be sidelined through early in the season with a foot injury.
So far, so good with Michel and Chubb.
‚ÄúThey seem like they‚Äôre picking up things very well,‚Äù offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. ‚ÄúCoach McClendon has always done a good job with young backs and these guys seem to be doing a good job.‚Äù
Added McClendon: ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve been working extremely hard. They‚Äôve picked up stuff very well. We‚Äôre not even done installing right now so they‚Äôve still got some things to learn and some things to get down. After that, then we‚Äôve kind of got to work on perfecting everything they know. We‚Äôre still throwing stuff at them as far as the knowledge thing goes. You know the habits that they are creating out there are very good so they‚Äôll be fine.‚Äù
INDOOR PRACTICE FACILITY TO BE DISCUSSED
Georgia still has plans to build a full-fledged indoor practice facility for football in the future and it will be discussed at the next athletic board meeting in September, athletic director Greg McGarity said Tuesday.
‚ÄúEverybody keeps asking about the indoor facility,‚Äù McGarity said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm sure it will be a discussion at our board meeting. There‚Äôs nothing beyond that. These projects have so many checklists. As far as planning, dollars and fundraising, we haven‚Äôt even gotten into the batter‚Äôs box yet.‚Äù
McGarity said there is still no timetable and no legwork has been done.
The cost had been estimated at about $15 million, but McGarity said the price tag isn‚Äôt yet known.
Facility improvements for tennis and equestrian are also needed.
McGarity called the indoor practice a ‚Äúpersistent issue,‚Äù sort of an elephant in the room.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll talk and discuss it with our board,‚Äù he said.
FIERCE FULL PADS
Georgia had a spirited first day of full pads work this preseason on Tuesday with some physical 3-on-3 drills that left both the offense and defense charged up.
There were several players not taking part in the contact or sitting out the entire practice.
Inside linebacker Ramik Wilson and cornerback Shattle Fenteng both were standing by their position groups but didn‚Äôt practice.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said both would be ‚Äúfine,‚Äù but Georgia hasn‚Äôt provided information on either‚Äôs injury. Fenteng has an apparent arm or shoulder injury.
Practicing in non-contact jerseys: wide receivers Justin Scott-Wesley (knee) and Chris Conley and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
PRUITT LOOKING FOR MORE DBs
Pruitt says he doesn‚Äôt think he has a secondary at Georgia ready to play ‚Äúwinning football‚Äù after just four preseason practices.
The Bulldogs‚Äô defensive coordinator coaches the defensive backs. It‚Äôs a group that lost some key components this offseason and gained several new pieces with newcomers.
‚ÄúRight now the big thing is we‚Äôve got to figure out who the right guys to coach are,‚Äù Pruitt said Tuesday at midday, a few hours before Georgia held its first full pads practice of August. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what we‚Äôre trying to figure out. We‚Äôre starting to narrow it down a little bit. We have not fixed the depth chart. I feel like right now I‚Äôve got one guy that‚Äôs playing the way it‚Äôs supposed to be played in the secondary and we‚Äôve got to find a lot more than that.‚Äù
That one guy is senior cornerback Damian Swann, the most experienced player on the back end.
Pruitt is working with a bunch of new faces: cornerbacks Malkom Parrish, Shattle Fenteng, Shaq Jones and Rico Johnson and safety Dominick Sanders. Redshirt freshmen safeties Reggie Wilkerson and Tramel Terry are also in the mix.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre just not complete football players yet, but they‚Äôre young, they‚Äôre babies,‚Äù Pruitt said. ‚ÄúAnd that goes back to realistic expectations. I‚Äôm not disappointed in any of them, but we‚Äôre talking about guys playing winning football. That‚Äôs what it‚Äôs all about. Right now we‚Äôve got one guy that can play winning football. We‚Äôve got 10 or 11 other guys that possibly could. Are they there yet? Not yet.‚Äù
THIS AND THAT
Georgia practiced for the first time this preseason on the grass fields that were replaced last week. ‚Ä¶Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said about 90 percent of the offense has been installed so far. ‚ÄúYou basically throw everything at them and kind of see what sticks, not for them but for your team as an identity. Trying to figure out what you‚Äôre going to be and who you‚Äôre going to be.‚Äù ‚Ä¶Georgia will practice twice on Wednesday, the first time this preseason it‚Äôs had double sessions.