Three spots to watch this spring
A.J. Bryant
A.J. Bryant
Publisher
Posted Nov 17, 2004


No question, there will be battles this spring when the Bulldogs line up for drills. Mark Richt has a plethora of talent to choose from, but there are questions at three critical positions. Those positions will determine if Georgia has another successful season.

KICKER – Andy Bailey has been the starting kicker since late August and has been steady, but he has missed several critical kicks in important games. Brandon Coutu has shown he has the leg and accuracy on kickoffs, but he has not yet been given the chance to shine during games.

“I don’t think we can judge him off one bad swing,” said Mark Richt after Bailey missed his only field goal attempt of the game against Auburn. It was the Bulldogs’ first drive of the game. Momentum was lost after Bailey’s failed attempt. The kick didn’t stand a chance, as it hardly got off the ground. Bailey made several kicks during the season, but not during what seem to be critical points.

RUNNING BACK – The merry-go-round that will be Georgia’s running back rotation this spring will have no less than three competitors looking to lock down the starting spot next season. Considering the talent as well as the injures at the position, it seems unlikely one player will lock down the starting job this spring.

Kregg Lumpkin will return to the practice fields after sitting this season out with a torn ACL. Lumpkin was the presumed starter entering 2004, but Danny Ware stepped up to beat out Michael Cooper, Tyson Browning, and Tony Milton for the starting spot in late August. Ware looked nearly unstoppable several times this season but had two major problems: injuries and fumbles.

Although Cooper and Browning picked up Ware’s slack during the early games the pair dealt with fumbles (Browning) and injures (Cooper) as well. Milton never got over the injury bug that has been haunting him since last season.

Thomas Brown appears to be the favorite for the number one spot this spring due to his solid and steady performance all season. But Brown will have to hold off both Lumpkin and Ware.

Even if he does that the Bulldogs could have two starting backs next season. Richt has said he is entertaining the idea of going to an Auburn-like two running back set for some of the offense’s plays next season.

WIDE RECEIVER – The departure of Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown opens up two starting spots for younger Bulldogs to fill. Sean Bailey has been the go to younger player of the season. He did not redshirt his first year in Athens and therefore likely only has two years left in Athens. His time to be the big time target is now.

A.J. Bryant might not have as much experience as Bailey, but he could have more potential. Bryant’s abilities were evident in April, August, and in limited action on the field this season. Although he could be still learning the nuances of wide receiver in the spring, Bryant could emerge as Georgia’s go to threat in the very near future.

T.J. Gartrell and Bryan McClendon will also get a lot of looks this spring and one of the two might actually be named to one of the two starting spots after spring ball is done. Both have the skills, but have been buried too far under older players in the depth chart to show their stuff on game day.

One player that could make a sudden impact this spring is redshirt freshman Kenneth Harris. Harris is a tall receiver (like most of the Bulldogs’ current receivers) and physical. He has a good body to block with. Harris and Bryant will likely form a very lethal combination in the future.


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