The good news for the team is that all three practiced when the Bulldogs held a pair of workouts on Saturday and the Sept. 1 season-opener against Buffalo is still three weekends away.
Mitchell, who moved to the secondary in the spring after playing receiver last season as a freshman, has a left shoulder contusion that he appeared to be favoring some in Saturday’s afternoon practice. The injury presumably happened on Friday since he was already in a non-contact jersey for the morning practice.
Mitchell, still expected to get some receiver snaps early this season, went through early drills in the portion open to the media in the afternoon. So did senior Branden Smith (left shoulder contusion) and sophomore Damian Swann (sprained neck), who continue to be limited.
Senior Sanders Commings is suspended for the first two games following his arrest in January on a domestic violence charge.
Higher goal set for Murray
If preseason practices are any indication, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray could be more on target this season.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Saturday that Murray completed about 14 percent more of his passes this camp heading into that evening’s practice compared to a year ago.
The redshirt junior has worked on improving his footwork this offseason.
“He’s doing a good job of not being on his toes anymore, finishing every throw on balance,” Bobo said. “There’s times we’ve got to throw off balance, but his accuracy has improved.”
Murray completed 59.1 percent of his passes last season, down from 61.1 percent in 2010.
Bobo had set a target goal of Murray completing 62 percent of his passes, but he’s raised that to 65 percent this year.
“He’s a fourth-year guy in the system,” Bobo said. “I just want to set the standard higher a little bit higher than 62. I think we’re capable of reaching that. To be the elite quarterback that he wants to be, we’ve got to complete passes at a higher percentage.”
Murray completed 12 of 17 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown in Georgia’s first preseason scrimmage on Wednesday. That a 70.6 completion percentage.
Swann’s time in secondary
The only starter Georgia lost from the Outback Bowl is Brandon Boykin., who played the outside corner and the nickel positions.
Swann, listed at 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds, is being counted on to replace him.
“He’s added some weight, he’s physical and is a really smart player that has the instincts to understand where I need to be based on the release of the receivers,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “When you play that position, the closer you get to the ball, the quicker things happen so you have to have a little bit of quick reaction. He has that.”
Mitchell also can play the nickel spot. Freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons also is working at the position.
OL Ward showing “flashes”
Georgia’s offensive line still has six players that coaches are counting on as game-ready.
Xzavier Ward isn’t in that group, but Bobo likes what he’s seeing from the 6-foot-7, 293-pound redshirt freshman from Colquitt County.
Ward “has shown flashes at practice. This is his first time practicing and we’re really pleased with him and how he’s not afraid to put his face on there. He’s got good pad level. He’s just got to continue to heal and get his knee better.”
Ward is returning from ACL surgery. He’s worked at right tackle behind John Theus and Watts Dantzler.
The offensive line took a hit this week when sophomore Hunter Long, lining up as the backup center, was lost for six to eight weeks with a broken foot.
“Hunter Long was coming on,” Bobo said. “Austin Long’s got to continue to come on. It’s time for him to step up and be someone we can depend on.”
Austin, Hunter’s older brother, works as the second-team left tackle, but an injury to starter Kenarious Gates would force another player to move to the spot.
This and that
Coach Mark Richt’s goatee didn’t make it through the last day of preseason camp. His face was shaved at practice Saturday, but Richt was unavailable to comment to the media.
Georgia held a special teams practice at Sanford Stadium on Saturday morning. “We’ve got a ways to go on our special teams, but guys are fighting and working hard to get on them and do a great job,” Richt told Georgia’s athletics website.
Bobo likes the progress the offense has made so far this preseason. “I believe we’re ahead of last year,” Bobo said. “I think a lot of it has to do with a lot of guys coming back.”
Defensive end Ray Drew (concussion) remains out. He has missed the past six days of practice.
Georgia marked the end of the “camp” portion of their preseason by eating watermelon after Saturday’s morning practice, a program tradition. After 10 straight days of practicing—with 12 practices in all—the players get today off. The next practice is Monday afternoon, the same day fall semester classes begin.