Georgia Bulldogs: Brice Ramsey
ATHENS, Ga. -- Once again, Georgia took home the victory on G-Day.
The Bulldogs' annual spring game ended with the Red Team, comprised mostly of the first-team offense, defeating the Black Team, headed by most of the first-team defense, 27-24 in front of an announced crowd of 46,073 inside Sanford Stadium.
You can learn only so much from spring games, but there are always some nuggets here and there that you can take away from them.
1. Mason looks pretty comfortable: It's easy when the quarterback isn't getting hit, but Hutson Mason looked very comfortable on Saturday. He was quick with his delivery, very accurate and very sharp. Again, he wasn't asked to do too much, but you can tell that he's more than comfortable running coordinator Mike Bobo's offense. I mean, he has been there for what feels like a decade now, so he better be. Even without some of his best targets in Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley (both were out this spring recovering from ACL injuries), he didn't skip a beat, as he passed for 241 yards and a touchdown on 18 of 27. "I felt good about my accuracy and my completions," Mason said. "Just wish I would have thrown the deep ball a little better."
2. Floyd and Johnson could be a solid combo: There's no question that Georgia's defense still needs a lot of work. The secondary had its issues and the defensive line is still looking for more playmakers. But one thing that really stood out on Saturday was the play of defensive lineman Toby Johnson and linebacker Leonard Floyd. Both required constant double teams on Saturday. We all knew Floyd had the potential to be a very, very special player, and he constantly harassed the Red Team's quarterbacks. He finished with six tackles and broke up two passes. Floyd can play with his hand down when the Dawgs are in a 4-3 formation or at outside linebacker in a 3-4. As for Johnson, he could be one to watch for the Dawgs this year. He made his way to the quarterback early and often in the game before the Black Team's line adjusted to put an extra body on him. Still, he was able to break through even with that extra set of arms to battle.
3. Gurley ran with purpose: There has been plenty of talk this spring about running back Todd Gurley's toughness, but he didn't look like he was holding back on Saturday. While he was limited to just six rushes (32 yards and a touchdown) and caught three passes (38 yards), Gurley was trying his hardest to bowl guys over. Coach Mark Richt sat Gurley down earlier in the spring to talk about his toughness and his practice habits, and it clearly paid off. Gurley didn't look hesitant, despite still not being 100 percent with nagging ankle issues. We don't know if Gurley will ever truly be healthy at Georgia, but it's a good sign that he doesn't have an issue playing through pain. He just wanted to deliver it Saturday.
4. Battle for No. 2 continues: Mason is clearly Georgia's starting quarterback, but the fight behind him should be a fun one for the months to come. It's down to redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta and redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey. On Saturday, Bauta was the more impressive of the two, passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Ramsey, who suited up for both teams, finished with 78 total yards and an interception on 2 of 13 passing. While Ramsey wasn't as accurate as he'd like to be, he has a cannon of an arm and might have the most arm talent on the team. He just has to get that thing under control before he can take another step in the process. "I obviously could have thrown it a lot better, but at the same time I feel good about my performance," Ramsey said. "I was picking up blitzes, making the right reads. I just need to put the ball on. I had a bad day throwing." As for Bauta, he shed the black non-contact jersey in order to take some contact and finish plays after defenders got their hands on him. He was certainly a lot more efficient than Ramsey, but he said he knows that he can't slow down when it comes to winning this job before the fall.
5. The secondary has a ways to go: New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will have his hands full with Georgia's secondary. A unit that surrendered 227 passing yards per game and 18 touchdowns last year showed some of the same issues it had last season during the spring game. Now, injuries to guys like Tray Matthews and J.J. Green, who was at running back last year, contributed to that, but the offenses were able to make too many big plays in the passing game. If not for a couple of overthrown deep balls, the offenses could have put up a few more points. It didn't help that the defenses were called for six pass interference penalties with half of the starting receivers out. Six players averaged 15 or more yards per reception against the secondary on Saturday. "We're getting better," cornerback Damian Swann said. "Everything that happened today can be fixed, and that's why you have games like this. ... I think we did pretty good as a secondary."
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel broke from his norm by commenting on the suspension of WR Dorial Green-Beckham by saying: "It stings me. It stings the players. It stings our fans."
- A whopping 17 players from last season's LSU team will participate in Wednesday's pro day in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams. Expect quarterback Zach Mettenberger to get extra attention.
- Tennessee announced that it has moved its 2014 season opener against Utah State to Sunday night (Aug. 31), making for a big opening weekend on the SEC Network.
- Steve Spurrier previews South Carolina's spring game on Saturday. He thinks it's a "chance for most of the young guys to show the coaches they can play."
- Georgia coach Mark Richt says the plan for Saturday's G-Day game will be the same as last year. Dawgs quarterback-of-the-future Brice Ramsey has a golden arm.
- Nick Saban says he's looking forward to ex-FSU Seminole Jacob Coker joining his quarterback competition. Alabama's second pro day featured safety Vinnie Sunseri working out six months after surgery for a torn ACL.
- Coach Will Muschamp predicts Florida "will have a good team next year" and fans will see "a good-looking team" in Saturday's spring game.
- Auburn WR Ricardo Louis was the latest Tiger to miss part of spring practice with an injury.
- Mississippi State's Justin Cox has moved to free safety after some struggles at cornerback.
- Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the Razorbacks have to correct some pass protection issues.
- Kentucky coaches laud the strength and conditioning program as the foundation of their football program.
- After a solid spring, expectations are growing for the Ole Miss Rebels.
- Coach Derek Mason discusses Vanderbilt's quarterback competition.
- The Johnny Manziel tour of potential NFL teams continues on Wednesday with Jacksonville.
Aulden Bynum, Fr., OL
2013 ESPN rating: Three stars, No. 47 offensive tackle
This season: Enrolled in January and worked at multiple positions along the offensive line.
Veteran's perspective: “He's not as strong as he wants to be right now, probably has to put on a little more weight. I think that he's also very good naturally just with leverage and feet space and stuff like that.” -- senior offensive guard Chris Burnette
Josh Cardiello, Fr., OL
2013 ESPN rating: Four stars, No. 21 offensive guard
This season: Enrolled in January and practiced mostly at left guard and center .
Veteran's perspective: “Cardiello is a really explosive guy, which I like. I think that's really important as an offensive lineman is to be explosive. He has good leverage, knows how to bend his knees and is also deceptively athletic and I think that's going to be good for him in the future.” -- Burnette
Jordan Davis, Fr., TE
2013 ESPN rating: Three stars, No. 15 tight end-Y
This season: Wasn't needed with seniors Arthur Lynch and Hugh Williams and sophomore Jay Rome available.
Veteran's perspective: “I think a big thing for him will just be learning the playbook, understanding the playbook, understanding how we want it done here. He's got a body like Jermaine Gresham. He's 6-foot-5-plus. He's about 240-something now, but he could put on 20 pounds easy. And he can run. I think that's one thing that'll be a very big asset of his is he'll be able to run and create space from linebackers and even probably safeties.” -- Lynch
Uriah LeMay, Fr., WR
2013 ESPN rating: Four stars, No. 48 wide receiver
This season: Stuck behind a glut of established veteran receivers.
Veteran's perspective: “Redshirt's a really important year. I know it was for me. I wasn't ready to play at all. It was important going into my redshirt freshman year that I had a lot of experience under my belt and it was a lot easier. I've seen improvement throughout his redshirt year and hopefully this spring is going to be big for him to really learn the offense and hopefully contribute next year.” -- junior receiver Michael Bennett
Brice Ramsey, Fr., QB
2013 ESPN rating: Four stars, No. 115 overall, No. 7 pocket passer
This season: Enrolled in January knowing that a redshirt was extremely likely with Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason sitting atop the depth chart.
Veteran's perspective: “A cannon. That's the first thing you see when you look at Brice: those long arms and that odd body type. He just brings his arm back and flicks his wrist and the ball just shoots off so fast that you want to get out of the way. But that's the first thing you notice with him. He's a young, fun-loving guy with a lot of God-given ability, and once he puts that together with his knowledge of the playbook, he'll be something dangerous.” -- junior receiver Chris Conley
Tramel Terry, Fr., WR?
2013 ESPN rating: Four stars, No. 89 overall, No. 9 athlete
This season: Perhaps the biggest question of bowl practice is how to qualify Terry these days. He practiced at receiver all season while returning from an ACL tear, but has been practicing at safety this week.
Veteran's perspective: “He's a guy who has to still get healthy, get strong and prepare to come in and execute at a high level and play fast. And I think he's going to be ready to do that. When you take an injury like that, it can do some things to your confidence and I think he's gaining it back and he's building it. With the more plays that he makes, the more like the old Tramel Terry he'll be.” -- Conley
A.J. Turman, Fr., RB
2013 ESPN rating: Four stars, No. 260 overall, No. 22 running back
This season: When Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall were injured at midseason, Turman playing seemed like a possibility. But the coaches preserved his redshirt and he'll join a deep backfield in 2014.
Veteran's perspective: “Turman's the man. Just because even if he's on scout team, he's still like wanting to learn what to do and he's always full speed. He's never like, 'Ah, I'm on scout team. I'm not playing this year.' So he's always getting better from what I see. He always asks me questions like, 'What do I do on this? What do I do on that?' and he actually is really like a beast. Y'all will definitely see.” -- Gurley
That said, the redshirt junior plans to compete over the next 10 months like he hasn't won anything yet.
“I've been here for four years, obviously, and everybody wants to say, 'He's the next guy, he's the next guy,' but no one owes you anything,” Mason said. “Just because you're here for four years doesn't mean that you're going to walk in the day when Aaron leaves and you're going to be the starting quarterback. … That's the way our coaches coach, that's the right way to go about it and I know that there's other guys in that room that are capable of making plays and they're capable of being really good quarterbacks.”
He has performed adequately as Murray's replacement – he has completed 46 of 71 passes for 648 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, which should only solidify his place for next fall. The more interesting aspect of the competition might be the jockeying for the position behind Mason among a group of young quarterbacks who could take over the reins in 2015.
“I don't see Hutson doing anything to self-destruct and make himself lose that job,” center David Andrews said. “But these young guys, they'll understand. Hutson, he came out every day and he competed no matter what, even in his redshirt year , when he knew he wasn't going to play. I think those young quarterbacks seeing that can understand, 'Even if I'm not going to play, this is setting it up and every day you don't try to get better, you're going to get worse.' I believe that, so I think Hutson sets a great example in that aspect.”
As of now, the Bulldogs have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster who will have eligibility remaining next fall: redshirt sophomore Christian LeMay, redshirt freshman Faton Bauta and freshman Brice Ramsey, who is redshirting this season. Georgia also has a commitment from Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford), ESPN's No. 94 overall prospect in the 2014 recruiting class and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback.
Exhibiting a strong work ethic and intriguing run-pass skills, Bauta seized the backup spot behind Mason and will reportedly be tough to beat for the No. 2 role next season.
“He's really come into his own, not beating himself up every time he makes a mistake and going back out there to make another play,” said receiver Chris Conley, who predicted that Bauta would claim the No. 2 job next fall. “He's a hard worker, so he's always going to be his toughest critic. But he's made a lot of plays this year out there. He made a lot of plays in the spring and that kind of turned people's heads to say, 'OK, I didn't know that he could play like that.' ”
Ramsey is also an interesting prospect, having impressed coaches and teammates with his prototypical 6-foot-3 size and possibly the strongest arm among any of the quarterbacks on the roster.
As with most freshmen, Ramsey made use of his redshirt year to settle into a college routine and learn Georgia's offense.
“He has a gun on him,” receiver Michael Bennett said. “He has a very good arm. He's just a freshman. You've got to mature a little bit, but he's going to be a good player, too.”
That redshirt year was a particularly valuable experience for a green quarterback like Ramsey who executed a run-heavy Wing-T offense in high school – a far cry from the pro-style offense he'll run in college.
“I've grown so much,” Ramsey said. “In January [when he enrolled], I couldn't have even have told you what a zone was or what all that was. It was just coming in and actually having to put forth effort and trying to learn the playbook and study and everything. Now I'm picking everything up and just excited for the future.”
For now, though, the starting job in 2014 is Mason's to lose. He's the only quarterback aside from Murray to have attempted a pass this season – Bauta has run three times for 29 yards in mop-up duty and LeMay hasn't played this season at all, although he saw the field as a reserve in 2012 – and Mason will be far and away the most experienced quarterback on the roster next fall.
That will be a major departure for Mason, who up until 10 days ago has spent his entire career playing second fiddle to SEC career passing leader Murray.
“It's going to be weird just not having the guys that I'm used to being around, like Parker [Welch, a senior walk-on] and Murray,” Mason said. “We've had a core group of guys that have been around for a long time in that QB room and we're going to be a whole lot younger with a lot of new faces. It's going to be different.
“It's exciting, though. It's what you come to Georgia for. I've been waiting for four years to go out there and compete for that starting position and I know every other guy in that room, that's why they're here. So that's an exciting time.”
ATHENS, Ga. -- Seldom has the Georgia coaching staff had a week like this. Last Saturday the Bulldogs picked up two commitments from players who choose the Bulldogs on the spot when offered; no waiting, no visits, no nothing. Then on Tuesday, Georgia picked up a commitment from Nick Chubb, the Peach State’s most productive running back last year. On Thursday the Bulldogs received their first pledge from a prospect ranked in the top-10 players from Georgia, ESPN 150 athlete Malkom Parrish. Now Georgia has picked up a commitment from a top quarterback, Elite 11 member Jacob Park.
A defense that lost 12 significant players will be a focal point well into the fall, and it was in our post-spring recaps. Let’s take a look at the defensive positions first:
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The more intriguing aspect of the next 12 months is whether redshirt junior Hutson Mason will be able to seize the Bulldogs’ backup job this fall and -- more importantly -- the starting position for 2014.
Mason is the odds-on favorite to back up Aaron Murray this fall, having played in eight games as his backup between 2010 and 2011, but he probably will not enjoy extensive playing time this fall unless Murray endures a significant injury.
To this point, that seems unlikely since Murray has started all 41 games of his college career. Nonetheless, Mason will almost certainly receive the first chance to follow Murray this fall and will be in position to become the 2014 starter with a strong fall as Murray’s backup.
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Newcomers: Brice Ramsey, Fr. (ESPN’s No. 7 pro-style quarterback signee in 2013. Enrolled in January)
Key storyline: After passing for 10,091 yards in his first three seasons as Georgia’s starter, Murray is poised to break all of the SEC’s key career passing records as a senior. He is 1,437 yards away from former Bulldog David Greene’s SEC-high 11,528 career passing yards. With 696 completions, he is 199 away from Florida quarterback Chris Leak’s record of 895. With 1,131 attempts, Murray trails Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen’s SEC record by 383 passes. And with 95 touchdown passes, he is 19 behind Florida’s Danny Wuerffel’s 114.
Murray is also the FBS active career leader in touchdown passes and is fourth with a 158.55 career passer rating. He’s already the first SEC quarterback ever to pass for 3,000 yards in three straight seasons.
Breakout candidate: Considering that Murray has started all 41 games of his career and will enter the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, there is no reason to expect a breakout player to emerge at quarterback this season. However, it will be worth watching the competition behind him over the next year as players jockey to become Murray’s replacement in 2014.
Reviewing 2012: Murray ranked second nationally in passing efficiency with a 174.82 passer rating and threw for 330 or more yards in four of the last eight games, including 427 yards and five touchdown passes -- both UGA bowl records -- in a Capital One Bowl win against Nebraska. His low-water marks were a 109-yard effort against South Carolina and a three-interception first half against Florida, but otherwise Murray enjoyed an outstanding season.
Walk-on Welch and LeMay played behind Murray in mop-up duty -- second-stringer Mason redshirted in order to establish a year between himself and Murray -- but neither player had much of an opportunity to distinguish himself. Welch passed LeMay on the depth chart after the freshman lost a fumble and threw a pick six against Florida Atlantic.
Projecting 2013: Murray has improved statistically -- and the Bulldogs’ win total has also increased -- in each of his three seasons as a starter. If he can continue that progress and cut back on his interception total a bit, he should rank among this season’s Heisman contenders throughout the fall. The key will be the first month of the season, when the Bulldogs face Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. Murray’s mediocre results against ranked opposition have been extensively covered, but he seemed to turn a corner in that regard late last season. The Bulldogs need him to be close to error free in the first month if they are to remain in SEC championship contention.
“Especially with the young guys,” Lynch said, “because you’re definitely intrigued to see what they have to offer and what they bring to the table.”
Their latest source of entertainment is watching unflappable freshman quarterback Brice Ramsey, who enrolled at UGA in January.
“[Lynch] loves Brice. He thinks Brice has the most swag ever,” Murray said with a laugh. “Brice does have some swag, I’m not going to lie. Brice just walks around like, ‘Hey I’m the man.’ ... He’s very cool, calm, collected. He’s very chill. He’s Joe Cool out there, and Artie and I just sit back and watch him and laugh like, ‘This kid doesn’t get fazed by anything.’
“He’s just out there and playing ball and looks good. He’s a very confident kid, throws the ball well and we just sit back and laugh and watch him play. It’s very entertaining to us for some reason.”
Ramsey’s demeanor immediately intrigued Murray, who often remarks about how nervous he was when he first took the practice field as a 2009 early enrollee. Having to throw against a talented SEC defense after getting only two months to absorb a complex college playbook would tend to generate some anxiety.
Perhaps that’s why Ramsey’s coolness intrigues his veteran teammates so much.
Practicing under blustery conditions at Sanford Stadium, the defense surrendered just one touchdown off a traditional drive before the Bulldogs began working on situational possessions such as third-and-long and goal-line scenarios.
“There were some good plays made out there offensively. As far as putting together drives and scoring points, it just didn’t happen today. The defense did a really nice job,” said Bulldogs coach Mark Richt, who added that the offense scored two more touchdowns in four goal-line possessions.
Adam (Charlotte): What is your view on the post-Aaron Murray quarterback position battle? Brice Ramsey comes out very highly recruited but played in a pure running team and didn't really showcase his talents. Could the big bad SEC be too much for him?
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ATHENS, Ga. -- While predicting which freshmen will play this fall is obviously an inexact science this far ahead of the regular season, Georgia coach Mark Richt on Saturday shared an easy explanation of how quickly his staff must bring along certain members of their 13-man class of midyear enrollees during spring practice.
If they play a position of particular need, Richt said, their learning curve naturally will accelerate.
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Watch live coverage on ESPNU | Talk signing day in "The Pound"
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Bold Prediction for the SEC:
Ole Miss' class will eventually be ranked in the top five nationally with the addition of No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and possibly ESPN 150 prospects Chris Jones from Houston (Miss.) High and Antonio Conner from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola.
Biggest need: Florida wants immediate help at defensive tackle. Jarran Reed from Scooba (Miss.) East should be able to provide that if he decides to sign with the Gators on national signing day.
Biggest recruit: The Gators have two five-star commitments: cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III from Tampa (Fla.) Wharton and running back Kelvin Taylor from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades. No other school in the country can say that.
Biggest need: The Bulldogs would like to pick up another top offensive lineman. They looked destined to land Laremy Tunsil from Lake City (Fla.), but the competition has heated up for him lately.
Biggest recruit: With 12 ESPN 300 commitments, Georgia has plenty of star power. However, it's impossible to overvalue the commitment of Brice Ramsey from Kingsland (Ga.) Camden, a quarterback the Bulldogs can build around.
Sallee discusses potential in SEC East
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