SEC Media Days: Dawgs begin post-Murray era

Rob Saye

After a disappointing 8-5 record in the 2013 season for the Georgia Bulldogs, we heard numerous reasons for why this happened. One reason is the attitude of the team was not the one of a championship program and the other was injuries.

The second part was easily seen by fans, with wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley missing getting knocked out for the season with torn ACLs. Same went for running back Keith Marshall and, later in the season, quarterback Aaron Murray.

The first three guys mentioned in the last paragraph are back and the last player is now with the Kansas City Chiefs. So, this now brings in senior QB Hutson Mason to take over the program. He is part of the group of Bulldogs that have been going through a different brand of offseason workouts during the summer. Linebacker Ramik Wilson has noticed a difference.

“We cut back on lifting weights a little bit,” Wilson said. “We still lift heavy, but coach wants us in shape to fly around and make plays. We’re all for it. We all bought in. So we’re ready.”

On the defensive side of the ball, this seemed to be coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s wish during the spring. This was especially his wish for the defensive line.

Head coach Mark Richt also likes the new workout program and is hopeful it will have great results.

So I asked him about whether last season’s injury situation played into changing up the workouts.

“That’s part of it,” Richt said. “The injuries are part of it. It’s just how the game of football has grown into a spread, high-paced, high-tempo (offense). There was a lot more sprinting. There was more of a goal to get leaner. There were pounds that were lost and we wanted to get more flexible.”

Not only did the Bulldogs change up their workouts, they also had some players leave the program this offseason. Either by choice or by force, some old faces are now other places. Most notable names are safety Tray Matthews and cornerback Shaq Wiggins.

Senior wide receiver Chris Conley talked about the enforcement of the “Georgia Way” this offseason and how it affected the program.

“There were a lot of changes that happened and a lot of people who were at Georgia that are not there anymore,” Conley said. “I think it was kind of a statement that we were going to do things the ‘Georgia Way’ and if that’s not the way you’re want to do them, then you won’t be here. We love those guys, but in order for this team to move forward, some changes had to be made. The team really has bought into that and they realize what we need to do to get where we want to go.”

Running back Todd Gurley and the rest of the team has been growing through at least eight hours of workouts with the coaches, given the new NCAA rule that allows for staff to be with the team.

“Its been crazy,” Gurley said.

He added later on in our talk with him, that Pruitt has been a constant presence at the Butt-Mehre Building on the UGA campus.

A huge part of this offense has involved the inclusion of freshmen running back Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Richt says the first freshman mentioned is a little ahead of schedule physically, saying that Ramik Wilson and Conley bragged on him a little.

“He’s pound for pound maybe one of the strongest guys on the team,” Richt said.

Richt also mentioned that they bragged about Michel’s route-running ability, among other parts of his game.

Now the road through the offseason approaches Aug. 1, when the Bulldogs open fall camp.

The media picked the Bulldogs to finish in second place this season behind South Carolina. The Dawgs get the Gamecocks in the second game of the season in Columbia.




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