As the Georgia football team began warmups Wednesday morning in Sanford Stadium, a Will Smith song blared out of the speakers.
“Bouncing in the club where the heat is on/All night on the beach till the break of dawn/I’m going to Miami/Welcome to Miami.”
It’s never too early to dream big. Even at the Bulldogs’ first preseason scrimmage.
Miami hosts the BCS national title game this season. Georgia, preseason No. 6 by the coaches, would love to get there.
First, it has some issues to address.
The running game
Freshman Todd Gurley will have the Bulldog Nation buzzing. He led all rushers with 58 yards on six carries and scored a touchdown in the closed scrimmage.
“Todd Gurley had some beast runs today,” said receiver Marlon Brown, who had a big day himself with six catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns. “I was like, ‘Is that a freshman out there running the ball?”
Head coach Mark Richt said Gurley “ran the
ball well, I’ll say that, but he had some good space provided for him at times when some of the other
The other heralded freshman tailback, Keith Marshall, had 11 yards on seven carries.
“Marshall had a great 3-yard run one time, but that doesn’t impress anybody unless you see it in person,” Richt said.
Ken Malcome rushed for 32 yards on five carries. Richard Samuel played both fullback and tailback, but Richt did not provide statistics for him. Gurley early ran with the No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense, but had his biggest runs — including one that nose guard John Jenkins said he took down the sideline — with the No. 1 unit against the No. 2 defense.
“I thought the backs ran well, really,” Richt said. “There were a couple of times I don’t think they hit it right where they should have or could have. It wasn’t bad.”
Replacing three starters on the offensive line
“The No. 1 offensive line protected pretty well,” Richt said. “I don’t know if there was a sack.”
Freshman John Theus lined up in the first series with the No. 1 offense at right tackle, Richt said.
Even the No. 2 offensive line showed improvement in pass protection.
“For the offensive line to be inexperienced, they stepped up,” said receiver Rantavious Wooten, who had two catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. “They gave the quarterback time to throw the ball to us and we made plays.”
Finding answers in the kicking game
The only field goal attempt of the scrimmage was missed.
Freshman Marshall Morgan is competing with walk-on Jamie Lindley. The missed field goal came in the red zone, said Richt, who did not identify the kicker.
“You could tell they’re nervous,” Richt said of the freshmen.
Richt chatted with Marshall at the end of the open media period during warmups after Marshall made 1 of 2 field goal tries from about 50.
Georgia got what might be expected from its starting units.
“Overall in the scrimmage, the No. 1 units played really well,” Richt said. “The No. 1 offense actually scored touchdowns in their first three drives. The No. 1 defense didn’t give up but I think one first down in the first three drives. Both No. 1 units were pretty dominant, which I like this time of year.”
Said safety Shawn Williams: “We stopped the run and made them throw. … I just wish they would let us get up there and embarrass the ones a little bit.”
There were nine sacks credited, nearly all came from the No. 1 defense. Cornelius Washington led with three.
“If it’s your first unit getting beat real bad offensively than you get concerned,” Richt said. “I wasn’t too concerned. There going against some pretty good guys.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray completed 12 of 17 passes for 170 yards and the touchdown.
“The No. 2 unit didn’t do very well,” Richt said of the pass defense. “They struggled.”
Williams said Bacarri Rambo (facing suspension), Sanders Commings (with the only interception but suspended two games), Branden Smith and Malcolm Mitchell worked with him in the No. 1 secondary.
Mitchell did “all right,” Richt said. “He’s getting there. He’s still learning. I think one time he tired to strip the ball out instead of securing the tackle.”
August stats will be long forgotten come September let alone January.
Georgia players want to get to Miami even if some might not know the Will Smith song.
“I have never even heard that song before,” Wooten said. “I was kind of lost then I finally listened to the words and I got. I don’t even like it, but if we can make it happen, I’m with it.”