Most eyes may be on the defense when Georgia starts spring practice on Saturday, but the biggest news out of a teleconference with coaches today is that the already thinned tailback spot is down to one healthy scholarship player.
Keith Marshall pulled a hamstring on Feb. 9 running the 60 meters for the Georgia track team at Virginia Tech when he finished second in a time of 6.75 seconds.
“The only running back we’ve got healthy going into spring ball right now is (Todd) Gurley,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “Marshall’s not even starting spring ball. We’ve got one tailback.”
Bobo seemed to take it in stride that Marshall, the team’s second-leading rusher last year as a freshman, sustained the injury running track.
“No. No. Not at all,” Bobo said when asked if he was ticked off about how the injury happened. “He pulled his hamstring playing football last spring and missed nine practices and still did pretty well. I don’t get too beat up about it as long as he’ll be ready to go. Keith’s the type of guy that I don’t worry about. He’s going to be into every practice even if he’s not practicing here the first week. Hopefully we’ll get him back after the spring break is what it looks like.”
That would be when the Bulldogs return to practice on March 19.
Bobo said a goal this spring is to build depth at tailback, but freshmen A.J. Turman from Orlando and Brendan Dougals from Augusta won’t practice with the team until the preseason.
J.J. Green, a 5-foot-8, 171-pound early enrollee from Camden County, will get a look. Green rushed for 919 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.
“We’re going to try J.J. Green some at that position as a scatback type of guy,” Bobo said.
Josh Harvey-Clemons’ position on defense?
Here’s what Mark Richt said about the 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore: “Right now the best I can answer that one is he’s going to play multiple spots. He’s just one of those guys that can play safety. He can play outside linebacker. We think he can rush the passer. He’s just a very talented guy. I think some of the reasons that we want to play him at more than one spot is that you play more than one style of offense. There may be a certain offense where you’d like to have him as a safety, there might be another offense where you’d like him at outside linebacker.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Georgia will “mix and match and move him around. He’s a good player. The thing I feel like we’ve done a good job of is we’ve gotten guys that I feel like can make plays in position to make plays. We certainly feel no differently than when we recruited Josh that he’s a guy that can affect a game. He’s long, he’s athletic, he has a skill-set that not many people have with his size and athletic ability.”
–With right tackle John Theus sidelined for the start of spring practice (broken bone in his right foot) and right guard Chris Burnette out all spring (torn labrum), Bobo said the offensive line will go this way to begin the spring: Kenarious Gates at right tackle, Austin Long at right guard, David Andrews at center, Dallas Lee at left guard and Mark Beard at left tackle.
“We definitely got all five guys back up front, but we played with our lineups some and we felt like some guys we’re coming on late in the year in Mark Beard and Austin Long who deserve some playing time,” Bobo said. “They’ll be competing for starting jobs come this spring along with hopefully Watts Dantzler getting in the mix and a guy like Greg Pyke we redshirted. We’ve got to see if they’re ready to play and ready to be contributors to this offense.”
–Richt didn’t elaborate more on fullback Zander Ogletree’s career ending.
“He’s got a medical issue and he can’t play anymore,” Richt said. “But he’s going to stay in school and we hope he does well in school and graduates.”
Georgia said privacy laws don’t permit comment on medical situations.
Merritt Hall and Quayvon Hicks are the top fullbacks this spring.
“Obviously Merritt has proven himself,” Bobo said. “He played well in games last year and was really the starter until he had an injury from the Florida game. He had a severely sprained ankle and Zander established himself. …The position’s not going to be handed to him. He’s got to go to work, as well as Quyavon.”
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