Georgia Bulldogs: Marc Deas

Todd Gurley, Trey DePriestKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesTodd Gurley had 105 total yards and two touchdowns in Georgia's scrimmage Wednesday, part of a much more focused effort by the Bulldogs' offense.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Since his team will open the season at night against Clemson, Georgia coach Mark Richt wanted his team’s final two scrimmages to be under the lights.

Richt got exactly the conditions and energy level from the team that he was hoping for in Wednesday’s second scrimmage of the preseason -- a marked difference from the Bulldogs’ listless effort a week ago.

“I thought it would be a good idea to do it this week because I just wanted it to be a nice, cool night, I wanted everybody to be well-rested and I just wanted to see a lot of energy out there,” Richt said. “It was like night and day from the first scrimmage as far as just the energy level out there.”

Georgia’s coaches got what they expected from their starting units, as well, with those groups mostly having their way against the backups in traditional series and situational scenarios.

“When you scrimmage like this and you go ones versus twos, you hope that your No. 1 offense is going to have a pretty good go against your No. 2 defense and vice versa. And that’s about how it’s gone,” Richt said. “If your second offense was just thrashing your No. 1 defense, then you’ve got a really, really serious problem. But that’s not the case. I thought both No. 1 units played pretty good.”

Several of Richt’s assistant coaches said recently that they would begin narrowing the field of candidates for playing time after Wednesday’s scrimmage so that they would have defined roles when they hold their third and final scrimmage next Wednesday. Richt said the coaches would grade film of the scrimmage within the next 24 hours, but their personnel decisions will likely take at least a few days.

“It’ll be maybe a day or two before we start trying to figure out ... and it won’t be exact until probably next Wednesday,” Richt said. “I would think by next Wednesday when we have that practice game, we’ll have a really good idea of our lineup.”

As for statistics, there were no particularly eye-catching numbers on Wednesday -- unlike last week’s scrimmage, when starting quarterback Aaron Murray threw three interceptions. Murray bounced back to go 14-for-18 for 173 yards, one touchdown and one interception on Wednesday, with backup Hutson Mason finishing 9-for-19 for 107 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

All-SEC tailback Todd Gurley was the offensive star of the evening, rushing five times for 33 yards and two touchdowns and adding three receptions for another 72 yards. Tailback Keith Marshall had six carries for 39 yards and freshman Brendan Douglas added seven rushes for 50 yards and two catches for another 31 yards.

“[Douglas] was very impressive today,” Richt said. “He ran the ball well, he ran with power, he ran with some vision, he continued to pass [block] pretty good. He’s not perfect in that area.”

Blake Tibbs and Michael Bennett caught the two touchdown passes and Malcolm Mitchell led the receivers with four catches for 58 yards.

Josh Harvey-Clemons, suspended for the opener at Clemson, led the defense with seven tackles and three pass breakups. Amarlo Herrera had five tackles and two pass breakups, while T.J. Stripling, Connor Norman, Garrison Smith and Leonard Floyd all had four stops. Floyd also made a tackle for a loss and would have recorded a sack, Richt said, if not for being blatantly held by an offensive tackle.

Defensive end Toby Johnson recorded the one official sack.

Freshman cornerbacks Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley both made interceptions, with Langley returning his interception 48 yards for a touchdown. Richt said Langley also broke up a pass at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.

The two freshmen are not just competing to be the backups at cornerback, Richt said, they’re competing with Sheldon Dawson to win a starting job alongside junior Damian Swann.

“I’d say they’re all still competing, other than Swanny’s going to be in there,” Richt said. “But who the other starter will be, it’s just a matter of watching what happened in this scrimmage and what happens between now and next Wednesday, probably.”

Kennar Johnson and Lucas Redd also intercepted passes.

The Bulldogs are still contending with a number of injuries, as 15 players appeared on Wednesday’s injury report -- including safeties Tray Matthews (shoulder/hamstring), Corey Moore (knee sprain), Shaquille Fluker (illness), Marc Deas (elbow sprain) and Paris Bostick (foot surgery).

Nose guard Chris Mayes (concussion), linebackers Tim Kimbrough (knee sprain) and Chase Vasser (ankle sprain), receivers Reggie Davis (knee sprain), Rhett McGowan (ankle sprain) and Rantavious Wooten (hamstring strain), tailback A.J. Turman (knee/ankle) and tight end Jay Rome (ankle sprain) were also sidelined.

The good injury news, Richt said, was that he did not believe the team suffered any new injuries during the scrimmage.

“It was a good day. No one was banged up today,” Richt said. “Sometimes the next day you hear something, but today Ron [Courson, Georgia’s director of sports medicine] came to me and said everything looked good, so that’s a blessing.”
ATHENS, Ga. -- Just when it looked like the identities of Georgia’s secondary starters were becoming clear, we learned that sophomore safety Josh Harvey-Clemons will miss the Bulldogs’ opener at Clemson.

That threw open the door for other players to enter the lineup for the opener, not only in the four traditional secondary spots but also in the nickelback role that Harvey-Clemons figured to fill most of the time when the Bulldogs deployed five defensive backs.

However, we’ll keep the question simple for this week’s DawgNation roundtable: With Harvey-Clemons out of the picture for the first game, who will be the starting four in the secondary when Georgia plays its base defense against Clemson?


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Post-spring position review: S 

April, 26, 2013
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Editor’s note: DawgNation's post-spring positional analysis continues this week after focusing on the offense last week. Today we examine the safeties:

Returning players/stats: Connor Norman, Jr. (Two starts. 18 tackles); Corey Moore, Jr. (One start. 14 tackles, one tackle for a loss); Marc Deas, Jr. (One tackle, one blocked punt); Josh Harvey-Clemons, So. (14 tackles, one TFL, one pass breakup);


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Perhaps it says something about the seasoning of Georgia’s 2013 defense, or lack thereof, that safety will actually not be the Bulldogs’ least-experienced position.

Nose guard takes that dubious honor. And yet with the departure of a pair of essential seniors Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo, the back end of the defense will face just as many questions when spring practice opens in early March.

U.S. Army All-American Tray Matthews -- who graduated from Newnan (Ga.) High School early and enrolled at Georgia this month -- hopes he can provide some answers.

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DawgNation on the Radio

January, 15, 2013
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With just over three weeks until signing day, the recruiting updates are coming fast and furious. DawgNation joined ESPN’s Athens affiliate 960 The Ref to talk about recruiting and more. Some of the topics discussed were:
  • What does Dee Liner’s decommitment from Auburn mean for Reuben Foster and Georgia?
  • What is the latest on Georgia safety commit Shaq Fluker?
  • Who does Georgia hope to close with and where is Alvin Kamara headed this weekend?
  • How nervous should Georgia fans be on signing day?

Listen to the show here.

UGA midseason report card: DBs 

October, 14, 2012
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Sanders CommingsDaniel Shirey/US PresswireWhile Sanders Commings has proved his worth among the D-backs since coming back from suspension, his effort, including two picks of UT's Tyler Bray, isn't enough to propel the unit.
Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is at the halfway mark, and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We'll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Considering the depth chart mess that existed within Georgia’s secondary before the season, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Bulldogs have experienced numerous continuity issues in pass coverage.

Whatever the reason, a defense that ranked 10th nationally against the pass last season (176 yards per game) and fifth in interceptions (20) looked nothing like its formerly dominant self -- even after most of the group reunited when All-America safety Bacarri Rambo returned from a season-opening, four-game suspension.

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Upon Further Review: UGA-Tennessee 

October, 1, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- If ever the old line “survive and advance” applied, it would have been after Georgia’s mistake-filled 51-44 victory over Tennessee. But the Bulldogs did survive -- and that keeps them undefeated entering Saturday’s SEC East showdown at South Carolina.

Let’s review some of what I learned from watching a recording of CBS’ broadcast of UGA-UT in this week’s “Upon Further Review.”

[+] EnlargeChristian Robinson
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireGeorgia linebacker Christian Robinson (45) celebrates after the Bulldogs' win over Tennessee on Saturday.
" I’m convinced that the biggest play in the game that didn’t involve a score or a turnover was when Malcolm Mitchell failed to field a Tennessee punt in the second quarter and it wound up rolling to the Georgia 1-yard line.

Georgia is up 27-10 at this point. Everything is working right. The offense is absolutely crushing Tennessee and the defense hasn’t given up a touchdown yet -- the Volunteers’ lone TD at this point is Byron Moore’s 35-yard interception return for a touchdown -- but the train starts to veer off the tracks on this possession that could easily have started out near the Georgia 20 instead of up against the goal line.

The punt initially landed at the Georgia 17, and Mitchell was at the 11 at the time and clearly was indecisive about whether to try to field it. He thought about grabbing it at the 10 and again at the 5 (which would have been a really poor decision by that point), but opted to stay away.

Prophetically, CBS’ Gary Danielson said immediately afterward, “It might not pop up in this football game -- might not, but it could. But to beat the best, you’ve got to field those.”

Georgia’s offense went three-and-out -- and I should note here that on third-and-3, if Mitchell had done a better job blocking his man, Justin Coleman, on a Keith Marshall run to the right, perhaps Marshall could have picked up a first down instead of Coleman tackling him for a 1-yard gain and forcing a punt. Bad sequence there for Mitchell, who was later replaced by Rhett McGowan on punt returns.

" Georgia’s offensive balance has, in my opinion, been what makes the Bulldogs so difficult to defend. It’s tough for an opponent to give Aaron Murray and the passing game the attention it deserves when it has to focus on Marshall and Todd Gurley’s ability to make big things happen in the running game. The freshmen and the offensive line deserve a ton of credit again, as there were several runs in which they reached the secondary untouched -- seriously, I don’t think a single Tennessee player laid a hand on Marshall on either his 75- or 72-yard touchdown runs -- and that is obviously a bad sign for defenses, given their ability to make people miss in the open field.

Speaking of which, individual blocking credits on Marshall’s two long TD runs: 75 yards in the first quarter (Merritt Hall, Kenarious Gates, David Andrews), 72 yards in the third quarter (Jay Rome and Mark Beard cleared a huge hole and Andrews picked off linebacker A.J. Johnson to get Marshall loose).

That said, it will be interesting to see how well Georgia moves the ball when it’s obvious to everyone that they want to move it on the ground. The Bulldogs were completely ineffective in such a situation in the fourth quarter against Tennessee. They had three different opportunities to mount drives that would run some clock after Tennessee’s final touchdown made it a one-score game with 8:56 to play. Georgia’s final three drives: four plays, 12 yards, 1:25 time of possession; three plays, 4 yards, 1:49; three plays, minus-2 yards, 1:07. They’re fortunate that the defense bowed its neck and UT quarterback Tyler Bray made some big errors, because that was really bad.

At the end of three quarters, Georgia had 538 yards of total offense. In the fourth quarter alone, the Bulldogs picked up one first down and ran 13 plays for 22 yards (20 passing, eight carries for 2 yards). I will say that Murray made a great third-down pass over a leaping Curt Maggitt -- I mean a picture-perfect throw against a blitz that would have gone for a huge gain, if not a touchdown -- but it went straight through Rantavious Wooten’s hands at the 50 and Georgia was forced to punt. A completion there probably ices the game.

" Conversely, It was interesting to see how easily Tennessee moved the ball on the ground late in the game. At one point between the Volunteers’ last touchdown drive and the one that followed, they ran the ball on eight straight plays for 41 yards and three first downs and a touchdown. Every play went for positive yardage.

I’m sure Georgia was trying to respect the passing game in that situation -- and it didn’t help that defensive end Abry Jones was clearly not healthy yet -- but Todd Grantham’s guys are obviously not taking away the run first like they did a year ago. There was a 218-yard difference between Tennessee’s output on the ground in this game (197 rushing yards, right at 5 yards per carry) vs. its performance against Georgia last year (minus-21).

With South Carolina’s running game and an improving Marcus Lattimore ahead, that’s a huge red flag for Georgia’s defense.

" It would be unfair to describe Bray’s performance as awful, but it definitely left a lot to be desired. He passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns and made some crazy-good throws -- including a deep ball where a wide-open Cordarrelle Patterson had beaten Branden Smith and probably would have scored a touchdown, but he dropped the ball.

But Bray also made some horrendous mistakes, and not just by turning the ball over on each of the Vols’ last three possessions. Those were all bad plays, though. Both passes that Sanders Commings intercepted were poor throws -- one to the inside instead of outside to the sideline where Commings couldn’t have picked it; one was behind Zach Rogers, who tipped it up into the air and allowed Commings to make the interception; and he let Jordan Jenkins slap the ball from his hands after the pocket collapsed, causing a fumble that John Jenkins recovered.

Plus he missed open receivers on a couple of crucial throws that could have altered the course of the game. Early in the third quarter when Georgia was reclaiming control, Bray twice threw inaccurately on third-down passes that could have extended drives. On Tennessee’s first drive of the second half, he threw behind a wide-open Justin Hunter, who had beaten Smith, and the ball fell incomplete.

On the next drive, he nearly threw an interception to Alec Ogletree on back-to-back plays and whistled a pass to Hunter that barely missed him. Commings had fallen down in coverage and Hunter was open. Marc Deas blocked the ensuing punt and Georgia capitalized by driving for another touchdown and going up by two scores. Huge momentum change there.

" Speaking of that play, credit Deas for recognizing a tendency by Tennessee wingback Moore on the play and taking advantage of it. He told me after the game that Moore had been overstepping on his drop as he blocked and that left a crease for Deas to attack the punter. Sure enough, Deas started out on the far left on this punt, Moore dropped too deep and Deas cut inside him toward punter Matt Darr. Moore got a piece of Deas’ left shoulder, but he was still able to get his right arm free to block the kick. Very well done.

" Commings had a nice game. I think that SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week award he won today was well-deserved. Damian Swann had Georgia’s third interception and it was also highly impressive. Ogletree deflected a pass across the middle, tipping it high in the air, and Swann absolutely skied over Smith and Patterson and caught the ball with one hand at midfield. Tremendous athleticism there.

" Danielson saw Murray’s first touchdown pass to Michael Bennett coming even before Tennessee did. Bennett was lined up in the slot and Tennessee safety Moore had given him about an 8-yard cushion, prompting Danielson to draw a circle on Bennett on the screen just before the snap. Sure enough, he was able to cut in front of the UT safety and Murray whistled a TD pass to him for an easy score that helped Georgia go up 37-30. Good recognition there by Murray -- and by Danielson.

" The final score and the way things played out makes this an obvious statement, but this was a really sloppy game by Georgia. It seemed like I was consistently writing down about so-and-so blowing a blocking assignment or covering the wrong receiver or dropping a pass or not making an interception that was there for the taking. They can’t afford to make this many errors at South Carolina or it won’t work out so well.

A few examples:

  1. Bacarri Rambo tried to jump a pass route and went for an interception in first quarter. He doesn’t get to the ball in time and Tennessee’s Rogers makes a catch at the Georgia 35. He probably would have scored a touchdown there, except that he fell down. Rambo did come back with a big third-down stop to end that drive and force a field goal, however.

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Random thoughts from UGA-Tennessee 

September, 30, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia survived on Saturday, but its 51-44 win against Tennessee was hardly a textbook victory.

[+] EnlargeKeith Marshall
Jeff Vest/Icon SMIKeith Marshall and Georgia racked up the yards against UT.
Let’s recap some of the history we witnessed at Sanford Stadium and go over some other key points from the Bulldogs’ (5-0, 3-0 SEC) win that keeps them undefeated going into an enormous SEC East showdown against South Carolina (also 5-0, 3-0 after a 38-17 win against Kentucky on Saturday) next Saturday.

And by the way, if you didn't know already, ESPN College GameDay will be in Columbia for the occasion.

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3 Up, 3 Down: UGA 51, Tennessee 44 

September, 30, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia fans no doubt came away from Saturday’s 51-44 win against Tennessee breathing a sigh of relief -- and perhaps questioning what they thought they knew about the fifth-ranked Bulldogs.

Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) scored 40-plus points for the fifth straight game, but huge errors allowed what was shaping up as a blowout win to turn into a nail-biter. And the Bulldogs know they’re fortunate to have survived those errors against an offensive team as explosive as Tennessee (3-2, 0-2). They might not be so lucky next time if such errors occur again.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley
AP Photo/John BazemoreTodd Gurley (above) and Keith Marshall were off to the races early and often against Tennessee.
Let’s review some of the highlights and low-lights of the game from a Georgia perspective:

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Barking Dawgs: UGA quotes of the week 

September, 14, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- As the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (2-0) prepare for their Week 3 matchup against Florida Atlantic (1-1) on Saturday, here is a selection of quotes from the Bulldogs coaches and players from throughout the week:

“He does deflect any kind of personal glory to the team. I think he’s very sincere. Some guys say it because they think that’s what people want to hear, but Jarvis is sincere about it just like A.J. [Green] was. They are humble guys. They like football and they like their teammates, they like their coaches and they like Georgia. More than anything, they just enjoy playing the game.” -- Georgia coach Mark Richt, on All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones’ humble nature

“I knew when they walked everyone up, it was either if I didn’t get my block or if T.K. dropped the ball, those were the only two things that would’ve stopped that play. They brought the house on that one and I knew, ‘Get your tail out there and go get that guy.’ I did and it was definitely a big play for me and definitely a big play that swung the game.” -- Center David Andrews, on his key second-quarter block that helped spring receiver Tavarres King for a long gain, setting up a touchdown in last week’s win against Missouri

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Notebook: Jarvis Jones for Heisman?

September, 11, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s administration hasn’t decided whether to mount a full-fledged campaign to promote outside linebacker Jarvis Jones for the Heisman Trophy, but if Jones keeps performing like he did in last Saturday’s win against Missouri, he might not need much help.

“It is a little early,” admitted Georgia’s longtime sports information director Claude Felton. “A lot of times your ‘campaign’ sometimes can almost be conducted by someone other than the school. ESPN GameDay, Fox or CBS studio shows -- I think those types of things have significant impact, what those people’s opinions are who are on TV every week.

“I don’t know if they’ve started it yet, but pretty soon they’re going to start where every week it’s ‘Who’s in the Heisman race?’ So I think those kinds of things can be just as significant as anything the school might do.”

And the highlights don’t lie. Jones has won multiple SEC and national weekly awards after leading Georgia to a 41-20 win against Missouri with nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and five quarterback pressures.

(Read full post)

ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Beard has never played offensive guard before. Neither has Austin Long.

But both Georgia offensive linemen have given it a try this month after flip-flopping roles in the last two practices.

Junior college transfer Beard played offensive tackle at every level before getting a taste of guard during spring practice. He practiced behind Dallas Lee throughout the preseason before replacing Long as the backup left tackle on Saturday, with Long moving to right guard.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed after Friday’s practice that true freshman quarterback Faton Bauta is likely in line for a redshirt season this fall.

Bauta is the newcomer in a deep group of quarterbacks that includes All-SEC starter Aaron Murray, junior Hutson Mason, redshirt freshman Christian LeMay and walk-on Parker Welch, so the incoming freshman has not been getting many practice reps this preseason.

“It’s just a matter of learning, and sometimes it is harder to learn when you’re trying to learn with a [small] amount of opportunities,” Richt said. “But we’re not expecting him to have to play for us this year. More than likely he’ll redshirt.”

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s staff didn’t waste any time trying to forge a bond between the new kicker-punter tandem to replace Blair Walsh and Drew Butler.

When freshman kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber arrived on campus this summer, they roomed together on campus and struck a fast friendship.

“Me and Marshall have become really good friends,” Barber said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve roomed together and we see each other every day and depend on each other. We’ve gotten to where we can depend on each other and hold each other accountable.”

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia is clearly counting on freshman offensive lineman John Theus to contribute immediately, so it helps that the Bulldogs have an All-America pass rusher to go against him during preseason practice.

[+] EnlargeJohn Theus
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comVeteran linebacker Jarvis Jones says John Theus (above) isn't the only newcomer to garner his 'focused' attention.
Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC with 13.5 sacks last season, said he has already worked against Theus -- whom ESPN rated as the nation’s No. 5 offensive tackle prospect in the 2012 signing class -- “all the time” in the first six days of practice.

“I’m trying to make it my business to have him ready for Day 1 when we tee it off,” Jones said.

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