UGA freshman backs shine

Rob Saye

The sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs held their second scrimmage of the offseason Wednesday afternoon and obtained mixed results, one of them being a perturbed Mark Richt.

The head coach entered the conference room visibly displeased as he prepared to disclose stats and facts from the day’s scrimmage. He took his seat in front of the media, unfolded his list of statistics, and began reciting his player’s performances in a monotone voice.

As Richt provided the media with the stats of his running backs, it was easy to tell it was not his backs that upset the coach. Both freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall enjoyed great days on the ground as they both had runs of over 50 yards. Gurley finished with 87 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Marshall had 62 yards on five rushes. Veteran running backs Richard Samuel and Ken Malcome both had touchdowns in the scrimmage and finished with 40 and 35 yards respectively.

Through the air, quarterback Aaron Murray completed eight out of his fourteen passes for 158 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Backup quarterback Hutson Mason completed eight throws on 18 attempts for 67 yards for a touchdown as well as an interception. Leading the wide receivers was sophomore Chris Conley who caught four passes for 114 yards. Freshman Blake Tibbs nabbed 3 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. Finishing the day with two catches were freshman tight end Jay Rome (32 yards), Gurley (22 yards) and wideout Tavarres King (9 yards).

On defense, linebacker Chase Vasser enjoyed a great scrimmage, finishing with six tackles, four for a loss and three sacks. Shawn Williams, Baccarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Ray Drew all recorded four tackles for the Bulldogs. Williams recorded an interception to go along with his tackles and Ogletree had two tackles for a loss and two sacks. After playing linebacker in high school, Harvey-Clemons played the star role in the scrimmage and recorded a tackle for a loss, an interception and a sack to go along with his four tackles. Other notables were Damian Swann, Jarvis Jones and Sanders Commings, who recorded three tackles. Jones also had a sack.

Though the backs and certain defensive players played well in the scrimmage, Richt was upset over the quarterback play. Murray and Mason combined for four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions), something the coach did not tolerate. Both quarterbacks fumbled when being touched explained the coach.

Coach Richt was also not happy about the play of his No. 1 units on the goal line. The defense was scored upon in a goal line drill and the offense only converted half of their goal line attempts from two yards out. Richt called the goal line drills “not impressive”

“Like I told the team, I thought we looked like a pretty good team” explained Richt in his post scrimmage press conference. “But pretty good is about 8-4, maybe 9-3 if you’re lucky. We’d like to be better than 8-4, but that’s about how we played today. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. Did we have great effort on every play? No. Was every guy busting his tail on every play? No. Was there great effort on some of the plays? Yes. I didn’t see a team that was ready to be great. I saw a team that was still pretty good, and I’m not that thrilled about it. I might feel better after watching the film.

While Richt was not happy about the overall performance of his team, the play of the true freshman running backs is something to be excited about. They both looked the part on Wednesday and Georgia can only hope they are ready for playing time in the SEC.

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