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High school coaches watch Bulldogs battle.


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High school coaches watch Bulldogs battle

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/06/08

Athens No, there wasn't a football game being conducted at 10 o'clock Thursday night behind the Butts-Mehre Building, but you'd never know it from the crowd gathered the lower-most fields at Woodruff Practice Fields.

Somewhere between 350 and 400 high school coaches attended last night's practice as part of Georgia's annual spring coaches clinic. Perhaps feeling obligated, coach Mark Richt treated the group to a show.

hitting each other full bore as the front/interior sevens of both the offense and defense collided in competition. The visiting coaches tucked in close to get a good look at the action.

"We're going to let the coaches get as close as they can get without getting in the way," Georgia coach Mark Richt said before the practice, which didn't begin until shortly after 9 p.m. "We're reducing it down to a 12-period practice and showing them a little bit of everything. We're going to show them how we teach our fundamentals because right now we're at a crucial point of teaching our guys how to block and tackle."

While full contact was not supposed to begin until today, you couldn't tell from the leather popping on Field One, where the offensive and defensive lines were getting after it.

Among the notable battles to occur there were: guard Justin Anderson vs. tackle Corvey Irvin (advantage Anderson); center Ben Jones vs. tackle Ricardo Crawford (big advantage Crawford); tackle Josh Davis vs. Demarcus Dobbs (draw); and tight end Bruce Figgins vs. Jeremy Lomax (Figgins wins).

Coach spotlight

Richt said the large turnout of high school coaches had less to do with the Bulldogs' success than it did with the keynote speaker for the clinic former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.

Carr, who retired at the end of last season, arrived in Athens on Thursday morning. He spent much of the day with Richt, walking around campus and touring UGA's athletics facilites.

"I enjoyed spending time with him," Richt said. "He's just what you would think, a humble guy who has every right to think he's pretty good. We're really glad he's going to be speaking. Our clinic numbers are probably up a little bit because of it."

Richt said lunch was the highlight of his day.

"I had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch with Lloyd Carr, Vince Dooley and Loran Smith," said Richt, who dined with the trio in the Savannah Room restaurant at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. "That was a thrill for me."

Coaches' perspective

Georgia has four "mid-year" freshmen Dontavious Jackson, Ben Jones, Tavarres King, Richard Samuel participating in spring practice. But Richt wasn't ready to heap praise on any of them just yet.

"Most of the brand new guys are really just trying to figure it out," he said. "Things are moving really fast for them. We put in an awful lot of system very fast in the spring because, if you take away the mid-years, everybody's got experience. You put things in more quickly and you have less days. So those young guys, they're heads are spinning right now."

Richt was asked about redshirt freshmen.

"It's hard to say right now," he said. "I've mentioned Caleb [King] a lot. He's doing well. You see [tight end] Aron White showing some signs of coming around. That's all I can think of right now."

Quote of the day

Richt said he and his wife "won't go bonkers" or do anything special to celebrate his raise. In fact, he's hoping she won't find out about it.

"Actually I feel pretty safe right now she won't get the news because she is in Romania right now," he said. "So she may won't know. Maybe she'll come back and not read the paper and I'll be in good shape."

Injury update

As practice began Thursday night, defensive end Neland Ball appeared to be the only new injury victim. The redshirt freshman defensive end was in a green non-contact jersey for an apparent shoulder injury. Also in green were LB Darius Dewberry (groin), WR Demiko Goodman (leg), OL Tanner Strickland (ankle) and DE Justin Houston (unknown).

Tomorrow's schedule

The Bulldogs will practice in full pads this afternoon, their last practice until after spring break.

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