Georgia’s 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.
“Right now they’ve got to prepare like they’re going to play and I’ve got to prepare them like they’re going to play so right now that’s the plan,” McClendon said Tuesday. “My plan right now is to get those guys ready to play versus Clemson.”
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.
“They seem like they’re picking up things very well,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “Coach McClendon has always done a good job with young backs and these guys seem to be doing a good job.”
Added McClendon: “They’ve been working extremely hard. They’ve picked up stuff very well. We’re not even done installing right now so they’ve still got some things to learn and some things to get down. After that, then we’ve kind of got to work on perfecting everything they know. We’re 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’ll be fine.”
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.
“Everybody keeps asking about the indoor facility,” McGarity said. “I’m sure it will be a discussion at our board meeting. There’s nothing beyond that. These projects have so many checklists. As far as planning, dollars and fundraising, we haven’t even gotten into the batter’s box yet.”
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’t yet known.
Facility improvements for tennis and equestrian are also needed.
McGarity called the indoor practice a “persistent issue,” sort of an elephant in the room.
“We’ll talk and discuss it with our board,” 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’t practice.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said both would be “fine,” but Georgia hasn’t provided information on either’s 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’t think he has a secondary at Georgia ready to play “winning football” after just four preseason practices.
The Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator coaches the defensive backs. It’s a group that lost some key components this offseason and gained several new pieces with newcomers.
“Right now the big thing is we’ve got to figure out who the right guys to coach are,” Pruitt said Tuesday at midday, a few hours before Georgia held its first full pads practice of August. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We’re starting to narrow it down a little bit. We have not fixed the depth chart. I feel like right now I’ve got one guy that’s playing the way it’s supposed to be played in the secondary and we’ve got to find a lot more than that.”
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.
“They’re just not complete football players yet, but they’re young, they’re babies,” Pruitt said. “And that goes back to realistic expectations. I’m not disappointed in any of them, but we’re talking about guys playing winning football. That’s what it’s all about. Right now we’ve got one guy that can play winning football. We’ve got 10 or 11 other guys that possibly could. Are they there yet? Not yet.”
THIS AND THAT
Georgia practiced for the first time this preseason on the grass fields that were replaced last week. …Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said about 90 percent of the offense has been installed so far. “You 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’re going to be and who you’re going to be.” …Georgia will practice twice on Wednesday, the first time this preseason it’s had double sessions.