Saturday was a good day for J.J. Green to be a Georgia cornerback instead of a Georgia running back.
“I didn’t really want to run the ball today because of the rain,” Green said after the Bulldogs’ first spring scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, which included a downpour in the middle of it.
Green led Georgia in rushing in two games last season, but this winter he moved to the secondary, where he’s holding down the starting “star” nickel back position.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound sophomore shared the tackles lead Saturday with inside linebacker Reggie Carter, each tallying seven, and said he delivered a big hit on tailback Brendan Douglas. Green wore an adhesive bandage on his forehead afterwards because he was cut by his helmet on a play at the goal-line.
The closed scrimmage came two weeks before the G-Day game.
There wasn’t any score to report and the players didn’t give an edge to either Mike Bobo’s offense or new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s defense.
“I think everybody had their moment,” said wide receiver Chris Conley, who had touchdown catches of 14 and 40 yards for his only receptions. “Early on, the offense had come out and started moving the ball, started rolling down the field and it looked like it was going to be an offensive day and then the defense caught a little bit of a spark and started to slow the offense down and make some plays. They got hyped and then somewhere around the middle of the day, the offense took it back. There were highs and lows on both sides, which I guess is good. … I can’t really pick a true winner of the day. I guess Georgia won today.”
The offense had a hard time doing anything once the heavy rain came, coach Mark Richt said.
“I thought the scrimmage was about like the weather, good and bad,” he said. “Of course when the defense plays well, the offense isn’t doing well and vice versa. There’s always something good happening, there’s always something bad happening I guess you could say.”
Richt had already watched three series of the scrimmage on film before he met with reporters.
He said starting quarterback Hutson Mason “was very sharp” on a day when he completed 12 of 18 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
His backups — Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Park — combined to complete 5 of 29 passes for 72 yards with an interception from Bauta that Shaq Wiggins returned 19 yards.
“There were way too many dropped balls,” Richt said.
Conley, who scored his touchdowns on a flare route and a double move, said the rain shouldn’t be blamed for the offense bogging down.
“In the kind of league that we play in, that can’t be a factor,” he said. “That can’t be something that affects your game and it can’t be something that slows you down.”
Douglas was the leading rusher with 36 yards on eight carries. Todd Gurley had three carries for 14 yards and two catches for 28 yards. Michael Bennett led all receivers with five catches for 48 yards.
Defensive end James DeLoach, one of four players arrested on theft by deception charges prior to spring practice, had four tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. Richt hasn’t announced discipline for those players.
The good news for Georgia is that Richt said “nobody seemed to have gotten hurt,” but there were lessons learned.
“We’ve got to learn to handle adversity better on both sides of the ball,” Richt said. “We’ve got to keep playing hard every down, know it’s a long game, know it’s a long scrimmage.”
Said center David Andrews: “The good thing is there’s a lot to work on. Also, the good thing is it’s only day seven. We’ve still got eight more practices and then all summer.”
Follow Marc online at twitter.com/marcweiszer.