Wilson: Johnson’s Kicking Butt
Toby Johnson
Athens Banner-Herald
Posted Aug 4, 2013


ATHENS - Tray Matthews, Georgia’s starter at free safety, showed up to practice Sunday wearing a green non-contact jersey. He worked out but in a limited capacity.

That would be cause for alarm, perhaps, if this was a game week, but the Bulldogs first game isn’t for more than three and a half weeks away against Clemson on Aug. 31.

The injury appears to be relatively minor anyway.

“He’ll be back in a day or two,” said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who cautioned only that he had not seen a medical report yet. “It’s nothing (serious).”

Georgia didn’t put out an injury report Sunday after doing so the first three days of the preseason.

Matthews posted on his Twitter account: “I’m good. Nothing to worry about.”

Matthews, out of Newnan, was the talk of the spring on Georgia’s defense, making big hits and showing the ability to make plays with the ball in the air.

Good start for Dantzler

Watts Dantzler, on the fringe of Georgia’s rotation on the offensive line, is making a move.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the junior “has had a good camp.” Bobo and offensive line coach Will Friend said Dantzler, listed at 6-foot-7 and 307 pounds, came into camp in good condition.

He’s working at right guard.

“I see a guy that’s battling,” Bobo said. “I think he sees the light and he’s competing a little bit, which is good.”

Friend said Dantzler is doing extra work on his own in an effort to earn a spot.

“We’ve got five guys that are running out there with the ones, but there’s a lot of practices left if someone wants to take over that spot,” Friend said.

Eight players have gotten work with the starting unit, according to Friend.

The five primary guys with the starters have been the same starters as last year: Left tackle Kenarious Gates, left guard Dallas Lee, center David Andrews, right guard Chris Burnette and right tackle John Theus.

Kolton Houston, Dantzler and tackle Xzavier Ward have also gotten first-team work.

“What we need is guys that kind of will separate themselves from the rest,” Friend said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that are all right there. We need some people to separate.”

A `learning process’ again for Houston

Kolton Houston’s position this year on the offensive line is still to be determined.

Houston is working primarily at left guard now, but Bobo said Houston might have gotten some work at tackle on Sunday.

“I think he’s a guy who can play both and I think it’s still too early to tell what position he’s going to be locked in at,” Bobo said. “He’s been here a while but hasn’t taken a lot of reps. He’s heard it, but it’s one thing hearing it in a meeting room and then going out and executing it on the field. There’s a learning process for him.”

Houston had reason to wonder whether he would ever get to play college football after being sidelined for more than three years after testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid. Along the way, he took unconventional steps in hopes of meeting the required NCAA threshold on his screening to be eligible.

Suddenly, he’s gearing up to play for the first time since high school.

“It’s an adjustment for him,” Bobo said after Sunday’s practice.. “We’re really pleased. He had an excellent day (Saturday) and I’ll see the tape in a minute on how he did today.”

Junior college transfer `kicking butt’

First-year defensive line coach Chris Wilson envisions using seven or eight players in his rotation. He has 10 players in his meeting room on a daily basis, including Toby Johnson, a junior college transfer defensive end.

“Toby Johnson’s kicking butt right now,” Wilson said. “We’re being smart with his reps. He’s learning our process on how we do things, how we work, how we get going.”

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Johnson, who played at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, is coming off ACL and MCL surgery on Nov. 28. He’s practicing without limitations.

A player to watch this preseason is John Taylor, who can factor in not only at end but at nose guard.

“He’s a redshirt freshman, he’s competing against some other talented guys,” Wilson said. “The thing that John, if he will continue to just buy in, just buy in and be all in to what we want him to do, he can be as good as he wants to be.”

Wilson said Chris Mayes and John Atkins have shown progress since the spring.

They are listed behind Mike Thornton on the depth chart at nose guard.

This and that

Michael Bennett, returning from a torn ACL, is running “co-first team with a couple of guys” at receiver, Bobo said. “I haven’t seen any limitations.” Receivers coach Tony Ball is handling the practice repetitions Bennett gets. Meanwhile, Tramel Terry, another receiver returning from knee surgery, “made a couple of catches today.” He’s limited in practice, Bobo said.

Josh Dawson worked at outside linebacker for the second straight day. Grantham said that Dawson’s role as an outside linebacker/defensive end “is no different than we did with Cornelius Washington.”

Georgia will practice in full pads for the first time this preseason this morning.


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