Georgia opened its spring camp in early March with plenty of storylines.
There is a new defensive coordinator and a three-player race at quarterback to replace senior Joe Cox.
The Bulldogs are hopeful that they will adjust quickly to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. Grantham was hired from the Dallas Cowboys, where he was the team's defensive line coach.
"You can tell he came from the league," said safety Nick Williams, meaning the NFL. "You can tell he's used to coaching grown men."
Grantham was part of Georgia's offseason defensive coaching overhaul. Also joining the staff are new Warren Belin (inside linebackers) and Scott Lakatos (secondary). Belin coached last season at Vanderbilt and Lakatos coached at Connecticut.
"I got a chance to walk around the field a little bit and observe our new coaches do their job," Georgia coach Mark Richt said after UGA's first practice. "I just thought they looked locked in. They were very decisive about what they were doing. They all looked like they had been working together for quite some time."
On offense, the Bulldogs are hoping to find a quarterback to replace Joe Cox, who passed for 2,584 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. The candidates are junior Logan Gray and redshirt freshmen Aron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.
All three are getting an equal number of snaps. Gray and Murray are both dual threats, capable of making plays with their feet and their arms.
"I believe those guys are athletic enough to add a little bit of quarterback run, run a little zone read, run a little quarterback draw," Richt said.
"I don't see us running a true option, but ... we'll have quarterback run game for them, and you would expect them to make plays either crossing the line of scrimmage or scrambling right, left, buying time and finding someone downfield."NOTES, QUOTES
SPRING OBJECTIVES: Georgia will continue its three-man competition at quarterback. Redshirt junior Logan Gray and redshirt freshmen Zach Mettenberger and Aron Murray have been getting an equal amount of snaps. A frontrunner has yet to emerge.
On defense, Georgia will spend the spring learning defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. The Bulldogs played a 4-3 under former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. So far, Kwame Geathers has worked mainly at the nose position in spring practice. DeAngelo Tyson and Abry Jones have worked at nose and defensive end. Pass rushing standouts Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington have been working as outside linebackers. Nick Williams and Bacarri Rambo appear to have the upper hand in replacing departed safeties Nick Evans and Reshad Jones.
BUILDING BLOCKS: Georgia has decent depth and experience at the offensive skill positions. Junior A.J. Green remained one of the top receivers in the Southeastern Conference with 808 receiving yards and six touchdown catches last season. Tailbacks Washaun Ealey and Caleb King give the Bulldogs two strong options in the ground game. Ealey rushed for 717 yards and three touchdowns last season as a true freshman. King overcame early injuries to wind up with 594 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009.
The offensive line also has potential to be strong if Tanner Strickland (shoulder) and Trindon Sturdivant (knee) can return from season-ending injuries that required surgery.
Georgia's kicking game also is strong with the return of place-kicker Blair Walsh (20 of 22 field goals, including 11 more than 40 yards) and punter Drew Butler (48.1-yard average, 19 downed inside the 20). Though Georgia's kickoff coverage was an issue, kick returner Brandon Boykin is back after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's about like the rest of the guys. They're all kind of lost." -- Georgia coach Mark Richt, on Richard Samuel's position change from running back to linebacker and the rest of UGA's defense adjusting to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: Georgia's season could hinge on the decision it makes at quarterback and whether the new quarterback is capable enough to get the ball to some talented skill-position players. The health of the offensive line also will be important. The Bulldogs can't afford for talented offensive tackle Trindon Sturdivant to go down to a season-ending knee injury for the third straight year.
The defense may endure some growing pains under first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. But really, can it get any worse than last season? Georgia gave up 30 or more points in four games last season and 40 or more points twice. Grantham's 3-4 scheme will require more discipline, especially from the linebackers. Already, Georgia has moved tailback Richard Samuel and offensive lineman Justin Anderson to defense this spring in an effort to provide more talent and depth on that side of the ball.
S Jakar Hamilton -- A transfer from Georgia Military College, the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Hamilton is competing for playing time this spring.
OL Kolton Houston -- The true freshman early enrollee has seen increased playing time on the offensive line this spring due to injuries to Tanner Strickland and Trinton Sturdivant.
OL Dallas Lee -- The redshirt freshman has seen increased reps on the offensive line this spring due to injuries to Tanner Stickland and Trinton Sturdivant.
--Coach Mark Richt said he is "pretty certain" that QB Zach Mettenberger will be suspended for UGA's season opener Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette. Mettenberger was arrested by police in Remerton, Ga., near Valdosta, on March 7 on five misdemeanor charges: underage possession/consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possession of false identification.
--Justin Anderson, who started five games on Georgia's offensive line last season, is moving to defensive line.
--OT Trindon Sturdivant is out for the spring while still rehabbing from knee surgery
--OL Tanner Strickland is out for the spring while still rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
--WR A.J. Green is working on returning punts in spring drills. Georgia is looking for a replacement for 2009 punt return specialist Prince Miller, who graduates this spring.
Previous Report: 04/11/2010