A year ago there was plenty of intrigue in the nitty-gritty of every Georgia football scrimmage.
Aaron Murray was in a three-way race for the starting quarterback job. Fans read into completion percentages and touchdown passes thrown to gauge who was up or down.
On Saturday, Georgia coach Mark Richt didn’t have any statistics to provide for the first time in recent memory when he met with the media after the Bulldogs’ first spring scrimmage.
“(It was) really outstanding in regard to guys playing with a lot of energy,” he said.
The offensive players seemed happy about their morning in Sanford Stadium.
The defensive players found reason to be satisfied, too, including making some red-zone stops.
“By no means was it just an offensive juggernaut, but there was some good plays made on both sides of the ball,” Richt said. “It was just a really good competitive day.”
Murray said both he and Hutson Mason threw a pair of touchdown passes and the offense had no interceptions and only one fumble. With tailbacks Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas out with hamstring injuries, walk-on Brandon Harton, Ealey’s cousin, scored on a 65-yard run.
“Overall I thought that we won,” tight end Orson Charles said, “but coach Richt said that Georgia won, so it’s all good.”
Some highlights of the closed scrimmage, according to Richt and players:
► Charles, the junior from Tampa, “had a pretty big day,” Richt said. Murray said he connected with Charles on a pass of at least 40 yards.
► Receiver Marlon Brown had a touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. “Very tight coverage, but he kind of reached up and snatched it away from a defender,” Richt said. “A very nice throw from Murray.”
► Redshirt freshman receiver Michael Bennett had at least four catches, including a one-handed grab for a touchdown. “It was really encouraging,” Bennett said. “I made some plays and just really got comfortable out there.”
► The defensive standout was 6-foot-6, 344-pound nose guard Kwame Geathers, who is having a strong spring before touted junior college transfer John Jenkins arrives.
Christian Robinson and Alec Ogletree said he made a third-down stop in the backfield for a loss.
“Kwame made some nice plays,” Richt said. “Going against (center) Ben Jones is not easy, and he made some plays. He’s making very good improvement.”
► Running back Caleb King “did a very nice job,” Richt said, but Harton, a 5-6, 174-pound walk-on from Tattnall County who moved from receiver, was the talk of the running backs. “(He) made some nice runs,” Richt said.
► Richt said he was unaware of any new injuries. Among those that also did not scrimmage: fullback Bruce Figgins (neck), linebacker Richard Samuel (rib) and tight end Aron White (undisclosed injury).
Safety Bacarri Rambo (sprained MCL) is expected to miss the rest of the spring and the Bulldogs’ only had two scholarship safeties because Marc Deas was out with an undisclosed injury.
“I think we’re going to get a pretty good crop of guys back Tuesday,” Richt said of the next practice. “I’m not sure we’ll get Washuan back. We might get Washuan back by the end of next week.”
Murray is the unquestioned starter now after leading all freshmen nationally in passing efficiency last season.
Last spring, the quarterback competition was front and center. Murray got the job, Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the team after spring practice and Logan Gray moved to receiver and announced this year his plans to transfer.
Murray said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has told him the offense is ahead of where it was last spring.
“You know it’s a pretty good day when he had some good comments to say,” Murray said.
That’s a vast difference from the first day in full pads on Tuesday when Richt said the defense dominated.
“Since then it’s been kind of a good battle and the O-line has been a part of it,” Richt said. “They’ve started to put some things together, created a little space and protected pretty good. I think they’re gaining confidence.”