Team 118 donned shorts and shoulder pads in lieu of the full gear today as they went through their final preparations for Georgia. It was a heavy special teams day and the offensive sessions were extremely limited, but here are some noteworthy items from this afternoon.
Quarterbacks: The quarterbacks spent the duration of the special teams sessions working with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian on avoiding pressure in the pocket. In the drills, Bajakian served as the defender and applied pressure to his quarterbacks from multiple angles while calling out one of four targets where they were to throw the football. At this point in the year this drill is little more than a time-filler for the quarterbacks, who each completed the drill with ease. This wasn’t always the case earlier in the summer, however, so even in simple drills it is clear to see that this team is getting better and better each week.
I know I’ve mentioned him multiple times in the past, but I continue to be impressed with how Josh Dobbs handles himself on the practice field. It is clear that the sophomore understands his current role on the team, but also realizes how big of an impact he can have on this program down the road. He is throwing the ball with much more confidence than he was at any time during the summer and is demonstrating the type of accuracy that you would expect from an SEC caliber quarterback. While it appears likely that the coaching staff will redshirt him in 2014 if at all possible, definitely don’t count out Josh Dobbs in coming years.
Wide receivers: The receivers got some work in with the tight ends on the JUGS machine to start practice before taking a small break at the start of the special teams period. Coach Jones spent the beginning of the special teams portion criticizing the effort of Josh Malone for not hustling on the practice field on his way to his next station and claimed that in the SEC, “…teams want to take your soul.” Malone and Pig Howard spent the duration of the second special teams session fielding punts alongside Cam Sutton.
Special teams: It was a tough day for the punt team today. Butch Jones was as angry as we have seen him all summer at his punters for holding the ball too long, kicking the ball poorly, or not putting a directional kick where it was designed to go. Jones had the first team unit go through approximately seven extra reps against various scout team fronts and was not pleased with any of them. The punt team worked with piped in crowd noise and did not seem to handle it very well, especially during the first few reps as several audibles went unheard by the front line and resulted in extra pressure on Darr.
Georgia has a history of making big plays on special teams, and this year has been no different. The Bulldogs had a kickoff return for a touchdown against Clemson and a punt return for a touchdown this past week against Troy, so clearly Jones and his staff are trying to make certain that they don’t give Georgia a cheap one this weekend.
Injury update: No Von Pearson or Josh Smith today as both receivers are still recovering from high ankle sprains. Jalen Hurd was sporting a minuscule pad on his knee (probably to cover a bruise or some other minor injury), but did participate in all of the work we were able to see. Ethan Wolf continues to wear a knee brace but is moving as well as he ever has.