New Sports Editor Fletcher Page arrived on the scene just in time for UGA fall camp. After two years away from the Georgia beat covering the Big Ten and Illinois, Page has returned to his comfort zone. Here are three things he gleaned from the first day back at an SEC football practice…
A group of Georgia football players take a break from the heat during the first day of fall practice at the UGA Woodruff Practice Fields on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Athens, Ga. (Richard Hamm/Staff) OnlineAthens / Athens Banner-Herald
UGA has plenty of weapons on offense
Yes, Aaron Murray is gone. And yes, news of Malcolm Mitchell’s latest knee injury (expected out for a couple of weeks) was a buzz-killing way to kick off the first day.
But a lot of the guys that last season helped Murray put up a school record-setting amount of points and yards return.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will carry the running game, with freshman backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb acting as exciting depth.
Senior receivers Chris Conley and Michael Bennett give that group a strong voice, with a dozen other bodies for senior quarterback Hutson Mason to target.
Defensive front solid, secondary TBD
The defense as a whole is a still a question mark for a few obvious (yeah, duh) reasons — completely new staff, offseason attrition and the other typical worries that come with something new or different.
No matter how the transition is handled, though, the strength of this group will be the front seven, specifically at linebacker.
Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera are proven vets on the inside and outside expected starters Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd could generate a hard-to-handle pass-rush.
Getting to the quarterback is going to be important given that the secondary was the area hit hardest by offseason departures. Seniors Damian Swann and Corey Moore project to be important figures, but underclassmen and lesser-experienced players are competing for significant roles at both corner and safety.
With Clemson and South Carolina the first two opponents on the schedule, new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has 28 practices left to get it all ready.
Jeremy Pruitt is all about his business
Speaking of Pruitt — he made the move to Georgia seemingly in the prime of his coaching career.
After getting talk of off-the-field distractions and injuries out of the way in the media session prior to practice, the former Florida State and national champion coordinator was the subject everybody wanted to talk about. New leaders always bring with them a shock of sorts to the locker room. There’s now a different way of going about running the defense at Georgia and Pruitt is establishing a new culture.
In charge of the entire defense, but directly coaching the secondary, Pruitt’s instructions overheard on the practice field Friday were blunt, for sure, but always fair.
“He expects guys to pick it up quick,” coach Mark Richt said. “He doesn’t have time for a guy who’s not serious about learning. He’s going to get on the guy and that guy will move back on the depth chart. He’s basically following through with what he said in his first meeting in that he’s not going to give them what they want, he’s going to give them what they earn.”