Spring practice No. 13: G-Day nears

ATHENS, Ga. -- Typically by this point in spring practice, Coach Mark Richt expects a fairly listless performance from his players with the G-Day game only a couple of days away.

Richt said after Thursday’s final practice in full pads that he was surprised by the level of intensity the Bulldogs displayed.

“[There was a] little bit more action and spirit than I expected,” Richt said. “Usually this is one that they’ve had just about enough before the game, so I thought it was good intensity and I thought that we got as much out of a one-hour practice as you can get, so it was a good day.

The Bulldogs will hold a short practice today and then will play the G-Day game Saturday at 3 p.m. at Sanford Stadium. The game will air live on ESPN3 -- it will be subject to blackout locally -- and will air on a tape-delayed basis on CSS starting at 5 p.m. ET.

Richt updated the status of several injured Bulldogs entering the spring game, saying that running back Keith Marshall (hamstring), cornerback/receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring), safety Shawn Williams (knee) and quarterback Faton Bauta (knee) are out.

He did not rule out running back Richard Samuel (concussion), who has missed several recent practices but returned for Thursday’s workout in a green no-contact jersey.

Williams injured his knee in last Saturday’s scrimmage, but Richt said at the time that it would not require surgery. He elaborated Thursday, noting “There’s going to be no surgery involved in Shawn’s injury, which is great. He won’t be able to play in the game of course, but it won’t be long before he’s doing everything in the offseason.”

Bauta has also practiced in a green jersey lately, and Richt said his prognosis is similar to that of Williams, adding that he could have probably played in G-Day if it were another week later.

Richt said that approximately five to 10 players could play on both the Black Team and the Red Team in the G-Day game, which would remove even more of the game-like atmosphere from the exhibition.

Georgia’s first-team offense will be on the Red Team and the first-team defense will be on the Black, but nobody promised much in the way of dramatics.

Asked why Georgia fans should even be interested to watch the game, rising senior linebacker Christian Robinson said, “I would say we’re expecting to put out a show of what this team’s going to be for this season. Everybody’s expecting us to be a top-rated defense and one of the top teams in the nation, so we’re hoping to prove those expectations correct and continue on with the momentum we gained last season. … That’s what I would say. If you want to get a good look up close next to the team and see how well we’ve improved from last season, I think this is a good time to come watch.”

* Bulldogs fans will however have the opportunity to see players coming off redshirts like tight end Jay Rome and receiver Justin Scott-Wesley or observe players who are changing positions like new defensive ends Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew.

Drew spoke with reporters after Thursday’s practice and said he is making slow and steady progress at his new position.

“To this point I think I’ve taken strides as far as progressing -- still have some things that I can work on,” Drew said. “I’m going to keep plugging at those little by little, but I think I’ve pretty much got all the big things, but it’s the little things that I’ve got to keep working on -- those basic fundamentals, alignment here or there, that kind of stuff. But as far as the transition, I think it’s going very well.”

Drew was the No. 13 overall prospect in the ESPNU 150 when he signed in 2011 after emerging as an elite pass-rusher in high school. He believes now that he would have been nearly unstoppable in those days if he had the technical knowledge about playing his position that Georgia’s coaches have imparted in the last year.

“If I knew what I know now back when I was in high school, there would have been no way that I would have been able to be blocked at all in high school,” Drew said. “Just getting up around the coaches and with them having all the years of experience under their belt and putting all their wisdom on me and helping me along, it’s helping me out tremendously. “

* Another player worth watching is rising sophomore safety Quintavius Harrow. The former teammate of Georgia stars Jarvis Jones and Isaiah Crowell at Carver High School in Columbus, Ga., Harrow made his mark with some of the team’s biggest special teams hits last fall.

Now he is trying to win playing time on scrimmage downs at safety and as the team’s nickelback. He said he is working as the backup Damian Swann at nickelback -- a position where Malcolm Mitchell, Sanders Commings and Blake Sailors have also practiced. He has also worked behind Corey Moore at safety.

“It’s going good,” Harrow said. “I’m just trying to learn one day at a time, learn from other players. Damian Swann, he helped me out a lot at nickelback.”

* Asked if there is any update concerning recent reports that safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree will be suspended to start the season for failing drug tests, Richt did not illuminate any possible punishments any further. “If we have something to report about a suspension, we’ll report it,” he said.

* Georgia’s offensive line will likely be one of the most-watched position groups at G-Day, but two redshirt freshman linemen who did not play last season will also be out on Saturday.

Xzavier Ward and Zach DeBell, both of whom are recovering from injury, are still not ready to play. But Richt expects them to be available when preseason practice begins.

DeBell returned to practice briefly this spring, but was out again lately with a sprained ankle, Richt said. Ward has watched from the side in a green jersey throughout spring practice.

“Zach got a little bit. Xzavier didn’t really get much of anything,” Richt said. “But those guys, we think they’ll be 100 percent by the time camp starts, which is nice. But Xzavier didn’t get any at all.”

* Georgia’s seniors met with several NFL scouts Wednesday, getting weighed and measured as teams begin their evaluation processes for the 2013 draft.

“They check everything,” Robinson said. “It was good. People’s minds might be headed in the right direction, maybe for themselves personally, but ultimately if we all do well, the whole team will end up [where] more guys will have opportunities. So I hope that is a positive thing for us.”

* The Bulldogs participated in a dinner with former UGA lettermen after practice.

* Admission to G-Day is free, but UGA is teaming with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia on a canned food drive at the game. The university asks fans to bring a bag of canned food to be admitted. Bins will be set up at Sanford Stadium’s main game as well as gates 2, 4, 6 and 9. Donation stations will also be in place for monetary contributions. All donations will go to assisting families in Northeast Georgia.