- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s defensive players have already started preparing for their Sept. 8 game at Missouri. They just might not know it yet.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after Thursday’s practice that the coaching staff is already introducing some of the defensive concepts they will use when they prepare for Missouri’s high-scoring offense in the fall. They’re working in more general terms right now.
“We’ve already worked on some of the things that we’re going to see,” Grantham said. “Players might not necessarily know that with what we’re doing, but I’ve always been a believer in [wanting] to develop during the spring, but at the same time you want to take a look at some things you may want to do against teams coming up early. We’ll do that now, and what we’ll do is we’ll come back in the fall and start the same process with training camp as far as developing guys, getting guys comfortable at whatever spots they need to, but also working on a couple opponents that we’ll see early in the year, to get ready.
“I think that you’ve always got to do that because you’re going to face different style offenses throughout the year and if they have something that they can draw back from that they’ve done in the past, I think that it makes it easier for them.”
More from Thursday’s 10th practice of the spring:
* Depth continues to be an issue at receiver. The Bulldogs started practice an hour early to beat the incoming inclement weather and cut it slightly short because they did not have enough available wideouts.
Senior Marlon Brown (unknown) was not at the early portion of practice that was open to the media, while injured receivers Chris Conley and Rhett McGowan are still not cleared for full contact and Rantavious Wooten remains in a green no-contact jersey at practice. He also left the field with a trainer during the early portion of practice.
“We went a little earlier hoping to beat the weather, which we did by a little bit,” coach Mark Richt said in the UGA-issued practice report. “It was a good day of work. We had some slight illnesses and class conflicts that were going to make it tough to have the depth at wide receiver to finish with our one-minute drill, so we cut that part.”
* Defensive backs Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings missed the early portion of practice. Coach Scott Lakatos said Commings was at class and made it to practice later. Of Rambo, he said, “He’s working through a couple (injury-related) things. So he’s good. … He’s fine. Nothing serious.”
* Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said Brandon Burrows is also out with an undisclosed injury. After missing all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, Burrows’ newest injury set him further behind in an experienced position group, Olivadotti said.
“Right now he’s hurt. It’s just tweaked. It’s nothing major and the time that he’s missing is hurting him right now,” Olivadotti said. “Those guys have the game experience and they’re still practicing. Brandon made a step as far as communication and has done a nice job with that kind of knowing what to do, but we’re still trying to sort through how to do it. That’s where he’s behind.”
* Running backs Keith Marshall (hamstring) and Richard Samuel (unknown) were not at the early portion of practice. Brandon Harton was at practice in street clothes.
* Present and wearing no-contact jerseys at the start of practice: Wooten, McGowan, linebacker Amarlo Herrera and offensive linemen Dallas Lee, Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward.
* Grantham said after practice that cornerback Damian Swann, defensive end Garrison Smith and safety Shawn Williams are among the defensive standouts thus far.
* Grantham added that Sterling Bailey, who will shift from outside linebacker to defensive end when he returns from foot surgery in the preseason, is also an intriguing player to watch in the fall. He said the redshirt freshman weighs approximately 270 pounds.
“Sterling’s a guy that’s really grown since he’s been here,” Grantham said. “He’s got very good flexibility, shows initial quickness. He’s got some size to him. He continues just to get big. He’s going to continue to get bigger the more he lifts and grows and eats and does those things. He’s going to be a pretty big man one day and he’s got good athletic ability. Those kind of guys create mismatches inside. That’s what you’re trying to do is create mismatches and let guys win one-on-one battles.”
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