Coach Mark Richt said Georgia was fortunate that the breakdowns didn’t cost the team the game.
“If we can make decent corrections through us communicating better as coaches and also by making sure we have the right guys in the right spots, I think we can clean it up,” Richt said.
One answer appears to be adding more frontline players to coverage units.
“We want to get the best guys that can cover, no doubt,” Richt said. “We want to be careful about it, but you’ll probably see a little bit more of that.”
Trent Frix is competing with Nathan Theus for the long snapper job on punts after Theus had another high snap, coaches said. Frix replaced Theus in the game.
Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan had only two of his seven kickoffs going for touchbacks.
Morgan said his goal now “is to kick it out of the end zone. I’m just going to try to kick it as deep as I can. I’m going to try and kick it deep with some hang time, too. I’m not going to just try a line drive so if he does catch it, he can’t take it. I don’t want him to take it back again.”
LSU is fourth in the SEC on kickoff returns with a 27.1-yard average. Odell Beckham already has a 75-yard return this season.
Asked about the 2011 SEC title game loss to LSU, defensive lineman Garrison Smith brought up special teams breakdowns as a big factor.
“We held them down to low yards and just special teams killed us,” Smith said. “We can’t let little things like the kick return that happened against North Texas happen again. We have to clean up the bad snaps. Just small things like that will get you beat. We can’t let that happen again against LSU.”
Players, Richt weigh in on APU protest
What was meant as protest of the NCAA by several Georgia offensive lineman in Saturday’s game didn’t exactly create a stir on the team.
Quarterback Aaron Murray, tight end Arthur Lynch and receiver Chris Conley said Tuesday they didn’t know about it beforehand. Lynch said he didn’t know what APU—All Players United—meant.
“If you want change that way, it’s not going to come by disorganized hashtags on your wrist,” Lynch said.
Offensive lineman Kolton Houston and several other linemen wrote APU to wear on wrist bands. They were joined by players at Georgia Tech and Northwestern in the protest that was organized by an advocacy group seeking NCAA reform.
“If you want action, you’re going to have to collectively get as a group,” Lynch said. “If you want something done, legitimize yourself, present yourself as a common cause and really try to bring some legitimacy to the issue. Don’t, in my opinion, write it on your wristband. That just doesn’t get much done.”
Lynch did say that he thinks players need to be advised better before signing a letter of intent.
“I’m signing away the same right I basically have when I sign with an agent at the end of the season,” he said.
Offensive line coach Will Friend didn’t know about the protest.
“They’re their own people,” he said.
Richt said he was like many who saw about the protest “on the ticker after the game. I just have to educate myself a little better with what it’s all about. We have freedom of speech in our country, but the question is what’s the most appropriate way of doing it, so that’s the only thing.”
Richt said their concerns—including better health care for athletes and more scholarship money—seemed “pretty legitimate. …Whatever they are trying to accomplish is being done in a respectful way, so that’s all I really know.”
Georgia’s offensive lineman haven’t been available for interviews this week and last. Friend said players made that decision because “they want to be a quiet group right now.”
Receiver Chris Conley, who serves on an NCAA student-athlete committee, said he wanted to speak to others committee members about the issue before voicing an opinion.
“The way that the system is set up, it could have an impact,” Conley said. “It also might not. We’ll have to see how some of these things play out over time. We will definitely be watching and it’s definitely going to be something that’s going to be talked about.”
Revisiting QB battle of 2010
Georgia’s battle for the starting quarterback job in 2010 is being revisited this week with the return of Zach Mettenberger as LSU’s starting quarterback.
It was more than just an Aaron Murray-Mettenberger competition.
Redshirt junior Logan Gray was also in the mix.
“If quarterback doesn’t work out for him, he can go and play another position,” Mettenberger said before spring practice in 2010.
That’s exactly what Gray did. He switched to receiver in May of that year after Murray was named the starter.
Mettenberger, of course, was removed from the equation when he was dismissed from the team weeks after his spring break arrest. He later plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery.
Murray reiterated Saturday that he didn’t think Mettenberger and himself would have stuck it out this long together at Georgia.
“I doubt both of us would have stayed,” Murray said. “I’m sure one would have probably left and you’d be talking to him right now, and I’d be at LSU or another squad.”
This and that
Georgia’s rotation on the offensive line with players moving to different spots has faded as roles have become more defined. Friend said that Houston is playing strictly right tackle now. He started at left guard against South Carolina, but freshman Brandon Kublanow saw his first college action Saturday and is Dallas Lee’s backup now at left guard. Watts Dantzler got about 20 snaps at right guard.
Tight end Jay Rome (ankle) missed the first half of practice while getting treatment but practiced for the second half, tight ends coach John Lilly said. “He’s working,” Lilly said. Tailback Keith Marshall (shoulder) and receivers Jonathon Rumph (hamstring) and Justin Scott-Wesley (shoulder) practiced in non-contact.“I’m good, man, I’m good,” Scott-Wesley said at lunchtime.
Kickoff time for Saturday is 3:39 p.m.