Friday, March 15, 2013
DawgNation Mailbag: Spring break edition
By Radi Nabulsi
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia Bulldogs are enjoying spring break after having their first three practices of spring camp last week. As we wait for the players to return to Athens and resume camp life, we will take a moment to answer the questions from our readers in our weekly DawgNation mailbag.
UGA linebacker James DeLoach, who is out to prove that he was overlooked nationally as a recruit, could have a monster breakout season.
Radi Nabulsi: There are a lot of candidates who could break out, but as for one who will, I think James DeLoach is the player to watch. He is already starting as the Sam outside linebacker, but that is not where he'll wind up. The coaches like him inside and he could start next to Amarlo Herrera. DeLoach would be a huge inside linebacker at 270 pounds. Plus he has a chip on his shoulder that weighs a ton, as he truly wants to prove that he was overlooked in the recruiting process. Keep an eye on Sheldon Dawson, Quayvon Hicks and Blake Tibbs as well.
Chris (Ringgold): What is your impression of Jonathan Taylor so far this spring? Do you think he could as good or equal to John Jenkins this coming fall? I have high hopes for him. He seems like a good kid, also.
RN: I have said multiple times that Taylor might be the most physically intimidating lineman I have seen in years. Considering who Georgia has had in the past -- Geno Atkins, Corvey Irvin, Robert Geathers -- that is high praise. The fear with Taylor is that he is too nice. One offensive lineman told me Taylor was just a giant teddy bear. But defensive line coach Chris Wilson is high on Taylor and the general belief amongst the staff is that Taylor will develop into the star he was projected to be. It might take a while before he is as good as Jenkins, since Jenkins has been projected to be a first-round NFL draft pick. Once Taylor gets mean or nasty, though, the sky is the limit.
the_discilple: With the offensive line depth Georgia surprisingly has right now, how will that shake out in the game? Is Georgia really going to pull starting players mid-drive to give them a short rest in a big game, or are we just talking about garbage time with big leads?
RN: Offensive line coach Will Friend won’t pull a player in the middle of a drive unless that player is getting beat or the player taps to come out for a breather. Georgia likes to make switches between series instead. So yes, even if it is a big game against a conference rival, you are going to see some new faces out there on the third or fourth offensive series of the game. Mike Bobo recently named several reserve offensive linemen that deserved playing time, including Mark Beard, Austin Long, Watts Dantzler and Greg Pyke. Beard and Long are running with the first team while John Theus and Chris Burnette are out with injuries. Center David Andrews recently told DawgNation that the team is close to having a three-deep rotation. That should certainly be possible when Theus and Burnette return and Brandon Kublanow arrives in June.
"I think the rotation can be very deep this year, which helps us out," Andrews said. "It'll keep guys fresh, and as we're pounding the ball, if somebody gets tired or someone gets hurt, we don't miss a beat when someone else comes in. That's going to be a big key, and I think that's going to help us out a lot this year."
Gilley5134: Will Josh Harvey-Clemons see any time at receiver next year? From watching the mat drills video, he looks like a prototypical receiver more than anything based on body type.
RN: When he was being recruited, Georgia coaches told him that they had some ideas for plays where he would get the ball in the red zone. You are correct; he does look like a wide receiver at 6-foot-5, 207 pounds, and not an outside linebacker, which is why he has remained at strong safety while cross-training at nickelback. He will also play outside linebacker in certain situations. So with all of that on his plate, I just don’t see where Harvey-Clemons can squeeze in repetitions at receiver. Plus the Bulldogs brought in junior college transfer Jonathan Rumph, who is also 6-5 and should make those red-zone catches with his leaping ability.
Dustin Williamson77: Do you think Georgia will develop a home-run threat at punt and kickoff returner?
RN: That is one of the top questions for the fall and, with the influx of new skill guys Georgia has coming in, the Bulldogs will have many more options. Any predictions at this point are mostly conjecture, but I would think that J.J. Green, Brendan Langley and Tibbs get a chance to join Todd Gurley, Malcolm Mitchell and Rhett McGowan in returning kicks and punts. I imagine Georgia would like to get away from using starters like Mitchell and Gurley in such dangerous roles. Keith Marshall would be a strong candidate, as would Tray Matthews. But again, that could endanger potential starters. I am basing my guesses off of which players were successful in high school, but that doesn't mean that their success will carry over to college. One possibility I would like to watch would be Justin Scott-Wesley. His track speed applied to kickoffs could create some fireworks.