- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Schedule: The Bulldogs will open spring practice on Saturday and conclude the spring with their annual G-Day spring game on April 6 at 1 p.m. ET at Sanford Stadium.
What’s new: Chris Wilson will coach the Georgia defensive line after coming over from Mississippi State, where he was the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Wilson replaces Rodney Garner, who left to take a job on the Auburn staff.
On the mend: Sophomore running back Keith Marshall will miss at least the first week of the spring after pulling a hamstring while running track. Junior receiver Michael Bennett is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last season and won’t go through any contact this spring. Freshman receiver Tramel Terry, who enrolled early, is also recovering from ACL surgery after being injured in a high school postseason all-star game. Offensive guard Chris Burnette had shoulder surgery and won’t go through spring practices. Offensive tackle John Theus will miss most of the spring while recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
Question marks: The Bulldogs are losing a ton of key playmakers on defense, and it’s particularly important that they find some answers at safety this spring. Freshman Tray Matthews, an early enrollee from Newnan, Ga., will get every opportunity to win one of the starting safety jobs. Learning the defense will be critical for him this spring. Junior Corey Moore will also get a chance to show what he can do before junior college additions Paris Bostick, Shaq Fluker and Kennar Johnson arrive this summer. Finding somebody to do all of the things Alec Ogletree did at inside linebacker will also be a challenge. That makes this spring a big opportunity for junior Ramik Wilson.
New faces: The Bulldogs welcome 13 early enrollees. Junior college newcomer Jonathan Rumph (6-5, 215 pounds) will be a prime candidate to replace Marlon Brown as the bigger receiver in the Bulldogs’ offense. In addition to Matthews, freshman Quincy Mauger will get a look at safety. At nose guard, redshirt freshman John Taylor (6-4, 335 pounds) is the heir apparent to John Jenkins. Freshman John Atkins of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy and junior college newcomer Chris Mayes, a sophomore, will also compete for early playing time up front on the Bulldogs’ defensive line.
Position of power: The Bulldogs were faced with having to replace three offensive line starters this time a year ago. But they crank up spring practice on Saturday with all five starters returning as well as every other offensive linemen who lettered a year ago. Mark Beard could push his way into the starting lineup at left tackle.
Breaking out: The Bulldogs plan to work Josh Harvey-Clemons at both outside linebacker and safety this spring. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham made sure to get Harvey-Clemons in some nickel situations a year ago, so covering receivers in the slot should come a little more naturally to him in 2013. He’s a dynamic athlete, and his development will be a key for Georgia on defense. It’s important the Bulldogs settle on a position for him this spring.
Don’t forget about: Jarvis Jones is gone, but not forgotten. Don’t be surprised if talented sophomore Jordan Jenkins gives the Bulldogs a Jones-esque dimension at outside linebacker. He’s a terrific pass-rusher and lighting fast off the edge. He’s smart, instinctive and is always around the football. From the Florida game on last season, Jenkins was a starter for the Bulldogs. He finished with five sacks and could easily be a 10-sack guy in 2013.
All eyes on: The Bulldogs return virtually all of their firepower on offense, led by senior quarterback Aaron Murray, who’s on track to shatter most of the SEC career passing records. Scoring points shouldn’t be a problem. The challenge will be on defense, where the Bulldogs are losing 12 players who started at least two games last season. Grantham likes his young talent on defense, but getting people in the right spots and developing that talent will be crucial this spring.
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