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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Mailbag: Questions before G-Day

By Radi Nabulsi

ATHENS, Ga. -- With G-Day coming up this Saturday, fans will get to see the new Georgia defense and possibly a reconstituted offensive line. The annual spring scrimmage in Sanford Stadium will likely answer a lot of questions, but in the meantime we will answer a few of them here in this edition of the DawgNation Mailbag.

Darryl8223: Put your prognostication big-boy pants on and tell us who will be the starting defensive backs against Clemson. Nobody really thinks Josh Harvey-Clemons is going to be a safety, do they?

Josh Harvey-Clemons
With more use of the nickel package, Josh Harvey-Clemons might see more time at cornerback.
Radi Nabulsi: Right now, Harvey-Clemons is your starting strong safety. That was the word from the coaches last week. But according to David Ching, who covers the team at every game and practice, the Bulldogs play so much nickel that we should predict that lineup as a standard. Damian Swann, who led the team in interceptions last season, will have one corner spot and Sheldon Dawson, who has had three interceptions in two spring scrimmages, will man the other. Harvey-Clemons will be the nickel back and Tray Matthews will the free safety. The real question is who will be the strong safety in that scenario. I am guessing Corey Moore will step in there or maybe Shaq Fluker. Just remember that this is a prediction with five months to go before that game.

cappy_88: So we are hearing good things about Ray Drew this spring. Could Georgia’s pass rush with Jordan Jenkins and Drew be good enough to help mask a young secondary? Is Drew that kind of pass rusher or is he more of a run-stuffer kind of defensive end?

RN: The Jenkins part of that question is easy to answer. In only six starts he was second on the team in sacks (five) and quarterback hurries (23). Jenkins says he wants to break the single-season sack record now held by Jarvis Jones (and one of those sacks should have gone to Jenkins, which would have denied Jones the record, but that is another story). As for Drew, I think of him as a run stopper but the stats say otherwise. He played in 13 games last season and did not record a sack among his 23 tackles. But Drew did have eight quarterback pressures as compared to eight that Kwame Geathers had with his five starts and the nine that Garrison Smith racked up on eight starts. John Jenkins had 14 quarterback pressures in his 13 starts, so statistically, Drew was right there with both the defensive ends and nose tackles. He was originally going to play outside linebacker, like Cornelius Washington, so he has the skill set to be a top pass rusher.

clynch314: How are the tight ends looking? Do either of the two starters (Lynch and Rome) look to be legitimate receiving threats, not necessarily of the same caliber as Orson Charles, but just to have the tight end option be a viable option in the passing attack?

RN: Arthur Lynch said the tight ends were a bit rusty to start spring practice but are now hitting their stride. As a receiver, Lynch was fourth on the team with 24 catches last season. While that pales in comparison to Charles’ 45 receptions in 2011, Lynch averaged 18 yards per catch, the second-highest production among receivers. Also, Aaron Murray spread the ball around more last season. In 2012, 11 different players had double-digit reception, compared to just six in 2011. As for Jay Rome, I think he will far surpass his 11 receptions from last year. I constantly see him doing extra drills and he has some of the best hands I have seen on a tight end. Dropping basketball will also help him. Watch for Rome to have a big year.

gilly5134: Anyone else besides J.J. Green taking snaps at running back? The depth there is ... alarming.

RN: When you asked this question on The Pound earlier, Keith Marshall had yet to return from the hamstring injury that he suffered running with the Georgia indoor track team. The good news for Georgia is that Marshall has returned and that has taken some of the pressure off of Green and Todd Gurley. In the last two scrimmages, Marshall has rushed 15 times for 96 yards. Not too shabby for a guy who was projected to miss spring camp. Green has turned a lot of heads, even garnering one comparison to former LSU star Trindon Holliday. Walk-ons Kyle Karempelis, Dominic Bryan and Chris Young have also been helping out. That means, at least, Marshall and Green don’t take a beating every day. Former walk-on Brandon Harton also has returned to practice after recovering from a sprained MCL.