April 14, 2010

Players feel they are on track

In April, Athens has only two guarantees - pollen and Georgia's G-Day spring football game.

With a crowd in attendance of over 30,000 fans, seasoned vets, fantastic freshmen, and even a few walk-ons gave the Bulldog Nation a glimpse of what it can hope to see next fall once the Bulldogs take the field.

While the 17-7 score in favor of the White Team was not very indicative of the fireworks that Georgia plans to bring to the field, it could be safe to say that the team could be back to its winning ways in 2010.

"All three quarterbacks showed a lot of promise," said tight end Arthur Lynch, who was on the receiving end of a 39-yard touchdown from redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Lynch, one of four Georgia tight ends who saw some extensive action in the game, also praised his position mates for the excellent job that they have been doing throughout practice as well as the game. He also cited their focus as a unit was more about accountability and pressing for maximum effort from each one of them rather that who gets the starting nod.

While the game may have featured a nice glimpse at the Bulldogs' passing attack, little could be said about the run game. With Caleb King out with a leg injury, Washaun Ealey and a host of others got the chance to move the chains via the ground game. Ealey expressed that he certainly noticed an improvement in the blocking of the offensive line which is good for him as he looks to best his freshman campaign where he posted a team-high 717 yards and three touchdowns. Ealey is pushing King for the number one spot; however, it was the fleet footwork of 5-8 dynamo Carlton Thomas that bested the backs with 56 yards on 15 carries.

According to Ealey, Georgia's stable of backs are insistent on pushing each other to the limit in a collective effort to rushing effort that netted only 2,093 yards on the season.

One thing that fans on hand were really hesitant on was just how well the defense would fare even if this was just an intra-squad scrimmage. Much ballyhoo came this fall from the high-profile names of Bud Foster, Kirby Smart, and John Chavis; however, the arrival of former Dallas Cowboys assistant Todd Grantham put a fire under the faithful and spurned a positive interest from Georgia's previous regime. With a new 3-4 defensive package in place, the learning curve seemed to be surpassed quickly as the first team defense held the first team offense to only seven points.
Linemen and linebackers alike seemed to fly to the ball like the Bulldogs of the earlier period of Coach Mark Richt's tenure between the hedges.

"The defense has had much improvement since the beginning of camp," said Washaun Ealey. "They are much more aggressive that they were last year."

Even transfer safety Jakar Hamilton praised the defense for a job well done.

"It's different coming from a 3-5-3 (defense) to a 3-4," said Hamilton. "You're not sitting back on your heels as much. It's aggressive."

Hamilton, the high-touted transfer from Georgia Military College, acknowledged that he is getting better acclimated to life as a student-athlete at UGA as he spends most of his time between study sessions, class, and learning his playbook. To a player with a knack for making the big play, it wasn't the workload that took him aback as he set foot on the field: It was the large number of fans in attendance.

"To go from having just five hundred fans in the stand to thousands," Hamilton stated with wide-eyed enthusiasm. "It was a great experience…something I'll never forget."

Keep in mind, Hamilton made this statement considering the entire north wing of Sanford Stadium for repairs. One can only imagine what feelings he will have at the first kickoff of his UGA career or even his first tackle. The Bulldog Nation is ready and waiting.

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