AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Georgia hasn’t done much to slow Jadeveon Clowney's pass rush in its first two meetings with South Carolina and its star defensive end. So offensive coordinator Mike Bobo joked that the Bulldogs might have to get creative with how they attack him in their third meeting this fall.
“I think we’re going to do the old Burt Reynolds ‘Longest Yard’ and not block him and let [quarterback Aaron] Murray throw it at him,” Bobo cracked at Thursday’s UGA Day meeting in Augusta, referencing the infamous scene in the 1974 football movie where Reynolds’ quarterback character repeatedly pegs a vicious opponent, played by gridiron great Ray Nitschke, in the groin.
Getting serious, though, Bobo said the Bulldogs have focused their pass protection schemes on Clowney in various ways over the last two seasons and he still accounted for three sacks, four tackles for a loss and a fumble that led to a back-breaking touchdown late in the Gamecocks’ 2011 win in Athens.
At some point, it’s a given that one of the top defensive players in the nation is going to make a big play, Bobo said.
“We can’t throw the ball backwards when he’s about to sack us and we’ve got to hold onto the ball and not turn a bad play into catastrophe,” Bobo said. “That’s what’s got to happen when we play him because he’s going to get [his]. He’s a great player. ... We’ve just got to play hard and like I said, he’s going to make some plays and we’ll do some things to hopefully try to discourage him.”
The key is doing what they can to limit the damage -- and they’ll try to scheme toward that end again in September.
“I think our guys are eager to play that game. We were obviously embarrassed [last year] and got thoroughly whipped by that defense,” Bobo said of the Bulldogs’ 35-7 loss in Columbia last season. “So we’ll be ready for that game, I promise you.”
Bobo made his first-ever appearance Thursday on Georgia’s summertime circuit of alumni association tour stops, and he was joined by men’s basketball coach Mark Fox, athletic director Greg McGarity and Jere Morehead, who will succeed Michael Adams as university president this summer.
Among the other points Bobo and Fox made in interviews prior to the event:
• He called the third tailback spot behind Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall a “big concern for me,” as the Bulldogs’ depth at the position was not ideal during the spring. He expects that signees A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas will both play this fall.
“They’re going to have to play,” he said. “You say that and you never know, but we’re going to go in there with the idea of getting them ready to play and it might not be week one. It might be, ‘Hey we’re getting them ready to play’ and they’re playing on special teams and by week four, week five, that confidence they’ve gained on special teams has enabled them to play scrimmage downs.”
• Bobo said freshman receiver Tramel Terry is ahead of schedule in his return from a torn ACL suffered last December and should begin running routes this summer. He added that All-SEC offensive guard Chris Burnette -- who missed spring practice while recovering from shoulder surgery -- “has really changed his body since being out” and looks to be in great shape for when the Bulldogs open preseason camp in August.
• Fox said assistant coach Kwanza Johnson remains on Georgia’s staff as of now. TCU has approached Johnson about an assistant coaching job and Fox said he should make a decision in the near future.
• Fox said Georgia will likely not know the dates of its 2013-14 SEC games until August.
• Bulldogs forward Nemanja Djurisic is going home to Montenegro for UGA’s May semester, but plans to rejoin his teammates on campus for the second summer session. Fox said he expects all of Georgia’s players to be on campus for at least part of the summer, which will provide them with valuable preparation time as they prepare for preseason practice in the fall.