September 30, 2013

DBs working out the kinks


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Quincy Mauger on secondary issues from UGASports.com on Vimeo.

Although Saturday's game against Tennessee will only be his fifth college game, freshman cornerback Brendan Langley doesn't want to hear any excuses.

Yes, the Bulldogs young secondary has endured various degrees of growing pains, including in the team's 44-41 win over LSU. But the former Kell standout doesn't want to hear it.

"That doesn't have anything to do with youth, we just need to know our stuff. I've said it in other interviews, I'm not a freshman anymore and I think that goes for our other "freshmen" too," Langley said. "We don't have freshmen mindsets, so being young does not have anything to do with this."

But there are definitely aspects the Bulldogs need to correct.

According to safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, much of Saturday's problem had to do with the noise as he and other members of the secondary struggled with the pre-snap defensive calls.

We just got to learn the signals," Harvey-Clemons said after practice Monday. "Before we're relying on Amarlo (inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera) to tell us the play ... look at the signal and tell us the play. But when you've got 90,000 yelling, it's hard to hear, so we've just got to learn the signals."

Harvey-Clemons said it's the typically the linebackers who are responsible for making the defensive calls.

"They really just teach the linebackers when they're teaching that," he said. "They don't really teach the defensive backs the signals, we just know the calls."

Some of the most notable problems occurred when the Tigers were in third down (LSU converted 10-of-15 third downs), including a memorable third-and-22 in the fourth quarter that LSU was able to convert en route to scoring what was at the time the go-ahead score.

"We've been working hard on install," freshman safety Quincy Mauger said. "We've just got to be able to come together and learn our stuff, getting the calls from the sideline and being able to tackle. College football is all about fast-paced; we've got to be ready whenever the ball is snapped."

To their credit, the young Bulldog secondary did come through when they needed to the most at the very end after four straight incompletions by Zach Mettenberger allowed Georgia to hang on to the three-point win.

On that final possession, Georgia's secondary consisted of three true freshmen - Mauger, Shaq Wiggins and Tray Matthews, along with junior Damian Swann and Harvey-Clemons.

"Those guys came through when they had to," defensive end Sterling Bailey said.

There have been other problems as well.

One, Langley said, is the fact the Bulldogs have faced what he considers three very good quarterbacks in Tajh Boyd of Clemson, Connor Shaw of South Carolina and Mettenberger last week for Clemson.

"You saw what happened on Saturday. That was definitely a first- or second-round quarterback. Those were definitely NFL receivers and we came out with the win," Langley said. "We gave up 41 points, but at the end of the day we won. We've just got to use that as a learning experience, make changes to the mistakes we made on Saturday and move onto the next one."

Gurley does not practice

As expected, running back Todd Gurley did not practice with the Bulldogs Monday afternoon.

According to the Bulldogs' post-practice injury report, Gurley sat out with his sprained left ankle and did not participate in any drills.

His status for Saturday's game at Tennessee (3:30, CBS) is unknown.

Other Bulldogs on Monday's injury report included defensive end James DeLoach (concussion, out), safety Shaquille Fluker (illness, out), running back Brandon Harton (rib contusion, limited), linebacker Shaun McGee (illness, out), tight end Jay Rome (left ankle sprain, limited) and wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (right hamstring strain, limited).

Missouri kickoff set for noon

In somewhat of a surprise, the SEC announced Monday that Georgia's next home game against Missouri on Oct. 12 will kick off at noon.

The game will be televise live on ESPN.

Former Dawg center passes away

Keith Johnson, a four-year letterwinner for the Georgia Bulldogs during the 1980s, died last Friday in Athens.

A native of Ocilla, Ga., and a product of Irwin County High School, played offensive line for the Bulldogs. He saw considerable action as a true freshman on Georgia's 1982 SEC Championship team before blossoming into a starter at center during the 1983 season when the Bulldogs finished 10-1-1 and won the Cotton Bowl.

Much of the rest of Johnson's career was marred by injuries. He started several games in 1984, including a celebrated matchup with Clemson's William "Refrigerator" Perry, but was hindered by a sprained hip midway through the season. Johnson redshirted during 1985 while recovering from back surgery and then returned to the team as a reserve during the 1986 season.

Murray picks up a couple of awards

Quarterback Aaron Murray's effort Saturday against LSU has resulted in the senior picking up a handful of weekly awards.

On Monday, Murray was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career after completing 20 of 34 passes for 298 yards and accounting for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in the 44-41 win over the Tigers.

That wasn't all.

Also on Monday, Murray was named the Davey O'Brien Quarterback of the Week, one day after being tabbed the National Offensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Foundation.

This and that

Murray wasn't the only Bulldog honored by the league office on Monday. Kicker Marshall Morgan was tabbed the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week as well. Morgan converted all five of his extra points and was also a perfect 3 for 3 on field goal, including a personal-best 55-yarder. …Georgia practiced in full pads for 90 minutes preparing for Tennessee. "The biggest thing is we, as coaches and players, can't hang on to that feeling of how great it was for very long," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We have to move on. We have to move our focus to Tennessee. No matter what we felt in the stadium or in the locker room, it will be forgotten much sooner if we don't come back and continue to do the things we have to do to win. We've got to be focused and we've got to be at the top of our game to be good. We've got to get our minds right and our bodies right and turn the page and move on. … As coaches and players, we're working on the new game plan. After honor roll, which was the first thing we did in today's meeting, last week's game was over. We're moving on to the next game with Tennessee." … Richt announced that team captains for Saturday will be Murray, Garrison Smith, Chris Conley and Connor Norman.

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