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Georgia football position group breakdown: Offense - The Red and Black : Sports

Georgia football position group breakdown: Offense

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  • Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl

    Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 25-yard reception during the second half of the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The touchdown brought the score to 24-19. (photo/David C Bristow, dbristow65@gmail.com)

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Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 3:00 pm | Updated: 10:47 am, Fri Apr 18, 2014.

The Red & Black is here to break down each position group for you just in time for G-Day.

Below is an interactive depth chart. Each offensive position group — quarterbacks, tailbacks, offensive line, wide receivers and tight ends — is detailed in the interactive chart.

Once your cursor is placed on the photo, just hover over each position group, indicated by a black and white dot, for a description of key losses and additions as well as returning players.

Click the green play button in the top right-hand corner to listen to this week's Suss-Pace Jam podcast for the latest Georgia football banter.

Wide receivers: Injuries really set back the Georgia receiving core last season. Malcolm Mitchell missed his entire senior season with an ACL tear in the first week against Clemson and will get another go-around in 2014. Unfortunately for Georgia, Mitchell has been ruled out for spring practice.

Junior Justin Scott-Wesley is also likely to miss G-Day after he also suffered a torn ACL at Tennessee. He’s been sporting a green non-contact jersey during drills this spring, and also has a suspension to serve for an arrest late last season.

Senior Michael Bennett is Georgia’s most experienced receiver in Georgia’s depth chart, but his knees have also been tested in past seasons. After a season-ending injury in 2012, Bennett was another casualty of the matchup in Knoxville last season. But one thing Bennett has proven in his career at Georgia is that if he is healthy, he is a dependable target. Bennett has racked up 97 catches for 1,203 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013.

Senior Chris Conley also struggled with injuries last season, but he hasn’t showed any signs of regression this spring. Conley was the team leader in receiving yards during a closed scrimmage last Saturday with 64 yards on four catches. The senior is unquestionably one of quarterback Hutson Mason’s favorite targets in spring practice, and this trend should continue in the G-Day game.

Senior Jonathan Rumph appeared in four games with seven catches for 121 total yards. By all accounts, he has been having a fairly outstanding spring. Rumph led the team in receptions in last Saturday’s scrimmage with six. At 6-foot-5, Rumph is almost guaranteed to see some jump balls on G-Day and Mason can count on him as a big target.

There have been questions regarding his route running, however, and head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have both sighted some “off days” for the senior during spring practices. This shouldn’t stop Rumph from being targeted multiple times on Saturday due to his solid spring overall.

Sophomore Reggie Davis is another Bulldog who could prove his worth during G-Day. Davis was among the offensive players to record a touchdown in the last scrimmage. He appeared in 11 games last season with 11 receptions and 257 yards.

Players have also sighted redshirt sophomores Blake Tibbs and Kenny Towns as potential utilities for Georgia's receiving corps. Of the two, Towns has seen the field the most. Appearing in eight games last season, Towns only had two catches. One of these, however, was a three-yard touchdown.

Redshirt freshman Uriah LeMay is a variable for Georgia. LeMay was one of the players arrested for theft by deception in March. A suspension has not been handed down to any of the players yet, and all of them have been participating in spring practice. Richt has not ruled out anything with regards to the extent of LeMay’s punishment, but as of now he remains a possibility to participate on G-Day.

Tailbacks: There may be questions as to who will block for him. There may be questions surrounding the talent of the man who will be handing him the ball. There may be concerns as to the health of some of the other ball carriers and the receivers around him on the offense. But his spot is all but certain.

Todd Gurley will start at running back.

The junior is in all likelihood the surest starter of any position player on the team. And obviously, it isn't just intrinsic talent that justifies Gurley starting and starring on this team. His production on the field backs it up.

In two years as the Bulldogs' feature back, Gurley has rushed for 2374 yards on 387 carries, averaging more than six yards per carry for his career, and has rushed for 27 touchdowns. More impressively, while his rushing numbers did go down due to injury in 2013, Gurley's receiving numbers tripled between his freshman and sophomore year. After receiving only 117 yards worth of receptions his freshman year for zero touchdowns, Gurley's sophomore campaign saw an improvement to the tune of 37 catches for 441 yards and six touchdowns.

Though injuries plagued Gurley for most of 2013 and caused him to miss three games, Gurley has looked healthy all spring and personally insists that he is feeling fine. As well as that bodes for the Bulldogs, the health of another running back may prove to be more vital.

After injuring his knee in the first quarter against Tennessee, Keith Marshall was sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. While Marshall was not on track to have as successful of a sophomore campaign statistically as he had his freshman year, his injury was detrimental to the Bulldogs.

Though he is unable to participate in the G-Day scrimmage, Marshall has been practicing in a non-contact jersey and is participating in most individual drills with his fellow running backs.

After Gurley and Marshall, the depth chart remains stacked to the brim with talent. Even with sophomore J.J. Green switching positions from running back to defensive back, the Bulldogs have four backups who likely will all vie for legitimate playing time.

Sophomore Brendan Douglas is the only experienced one of the group, rushing 84 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns his freshman season. A big and bruising back, Douglas runs a lot like a downhill fullback, but with a lot more speed.

Redshirt freshman A.J. Turman has looked impressive this spring, impressive enough that he can compete for precious playing time behind the three players ahead of him on the depth chart.

If one thing is certain about this running back corps it is this: a lot will have to go wrong for the team to run out of running backs.   ​

Quarterbacks:  The quarterback position in the Southeastern Conference is in tumult.

Texas A&M has to replace Johnny Manziel. Alabama has to replace A.J. McCarron. LSU has to replace Zach Mettenberger. Missouri has to replace James Franklin.

And Georgia? Georgia has to replace Aaron Murray.

Though he doesn't have much experience, senior quarterback Hutson Mason does assume the starting role with two starts under his belt after playing in place of the injured Murray against Georgia Tech and in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska in the 2013-2014 season. In those two games, Mason completed 43 of his 75 passes for 619 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

One of the common complaints lobbed against Mason's performances in his two starts was that he looked uncomfortable at the helm of the offense. There were times where Mason did look uncomfortable, but those were times when Mason was running Murray's offense. Murray was a very confident pocket passer who fit into Mike Bobo's pro-style offense like a pillow fits into a pillowcase. Mason is not that quarterback.

In a fast-paced offense that relies on tempo and some no-huddle principles, Mason looked to be in his element. Assuming that the offense retains many of the qualities that made the Georgia offense so successful in recent years while still be tailored toward Mason's unique talents, this offense is just as capable as succeeding under Mason as it did under Murray.

In the two mock scrimmages held thus far, Mason has put up glowing stats. Though the media and public have been restricted from watching these scrimmages and therefore no one has seen his performances, Mason has been statistically proficient. In these two games, Mason is 24-for-34 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns versus zero interceptions.

Redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta, redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey and early enrollee Jacob Park each have their own merits as passers and all play distinct styles of the position.

Bauta is a physical, mobile quarterback. Many teammates of Bauta's have gone as far as to call him the "Georgia Tim Tebow." Last year in his first eligible season, Bauta saw small slivers of action as a runner, carrying four times for 30 yards across three games. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds, Bauta is an imposing ball carrier but still sufficiently tall to succeed under center.

Ramsey plays quarterback in a more traditional way. Big and strong, Ramsey quite easily has the strongest arm of any quarterback on the team, including Mason. Coming off of a redshirt season, this is the first year Ramsey would be eligible to earn playing time. If he can refine his loose cannon of an arm into a more refined sniper rifle, Ramsey has the potential to develop into less in the mold of Murray or Mason and more in the mold of former Bulldog and Detroit Lions' starter Matthew Stafford: a strong arm with little mobility but excellent passing ability. While Ramsey isn't quite there yet, he is capable of growing there if he is given the time.

Park's play style probably fits somewhere in between the two. While not as physically domineering of a presence as Bauta, Park is an excellent runner with great field vision as he exhibited in high school. And while not as refined of a passer as Ramsey, Park was successful enough at Stratford High School to earn the honors of Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina. Though his practices have been tough to watch at some points because of how raw of a talent he is, the skill set is there for Park to become a dual-threat quarterback at Georgia who can feasibly be a run-first threat or a pass-first weapon. ​

Offensive line: After losing three starters to graduation in one offseason, the offensive line went from Georgia's most experienced position to one of its biggest question marks.

The one true returning starter, senior center David Andrews, is the anchor of this Bulldogs offensive line. Along with senior cornerback Damian Swann, Andrews is one of the only two Bulldog position players to have started every game since the 2012 season. Andrews is the player that every offensive lineman looks to for leadership and knowledge.

After Andrews, the Bulldogs do return two offensive tackles with starting experience. Junior John Theus and senior Kolton Houston split time at right tackle in 2013 and will very likely be occupying both tackle positions

Theus has more experience of the two, having started his entire freshman season at right tackle before Houston's reinstatement in 2013. Originally a highly-touted prospect out of high school, the former four-star recruit will be bumping back to his natural position of left tackle to replace the graduated Kenarious Gates.

While Houston's journey to the starting lineup has been arduous after having to battle NCAA restrictions, his job at right tackle is all but shored up. While not as naturally large as Theus, Houston is a competent pass blocker and a strong run blocker, perfect for the role as the right tackle.

The guard positions vacated by Dallas Lee and Chris Burnette are far from locked up. Coming into spring practice, seniors Mark Beard and Watts Dantzler were expected to occupy these roles. However, Beard had a difficult time transitioning from tackle to guard and Dantzler suffered a head injury early in the spring, further opening the holes at the position.

These slots have been occupied as of late by dark horse candidates of sorts. At right guard, redshirt sophomore Greg Pyke has emerged as the favorite to start. Built with a long torso and longer arms, Pyke seems to look more like a tackle than a guard, but has fit in well between Houston and Andrews on the line. According to many of his teammates, Pyke has been among the most impressive players to come out of this spring.

The left guard is still a bit of a toss-up. Recently, the post has been filled by junior and former offensive tackle Zach DeBell. Measuring in at 6-foot-6, 273 pounds, DeBell is a "tweener," simultaneously too thin in the conventional sense to play tackle and too tall in the conventional sense to play guard. Despite this, DeBell has earned his starting position this spring and has been taking a large share of the first-team reps in the recent weeks.

However, sophomore guard Brandon Kublanow isn't far behind DeBell on the depth chart and occupied that starting position until an arm injury briefly sidelined him. Back from injury now, the barrel-chested and strong Kublanow is poised to compete for one of the starting guard spots.

While several other offensive linemen such as Hunter Long and Josh Cardiello all have legitimate claims to playing time, the final two spots will likely be decided by a competition between Pyke, DeBell, Kublanow, Dantzler and Beard. At this point in time, Pyke and DeBell appear to be the front-runners.  ​

Tight ends: Georgia football lost more than a playmaker and dependable target in senior tight end Arthur Lynch. He was one of Georgia’s offensive captains and proved to be a leader in Georgia’s locker room. With 30 receptions, 459 yards and five trips to pay dirt, Lynch left a big offensive void.

Junior Quayvon Hicks has stepped up in the spring as a serious candidate for some snaps at tight end. Listed as a fullback last season, Hicks is using those skills to his advantage at his new position.

Head coach Mark Richt said Hicks is shedding tackles well, something he frequently did in the Georgia backfield. This is a big trade off for his lack of size at the position. Hicks is listed at 6’ 2”, making him the smallest tight end on the roster.

Hicks has also started to show some positive signs in terms of route running. Hicks did noticeably struggle with receptions as a back last season, and this is a question mark for Hicks’ game.

The issue is, with Jay Rome out, Hicks is the only tight end on Georgia’s roster who has played a live snap. He saw plenty of these as a fullback, but setting up next to the linemen will be a change of scenery for the junior.

The good news for Georgia is that they don’t have to start from scratch with their other junior, Rome. Rome appeared in eight games last season, including a start against Appalachian State, and tallied nine catches for 99 yards. In his one start, Rome caught three passes for 24 yards, and Murray relied on him to pick up two first downs.

Rome was saddled by a foot injury the following week, and he missed the final four games of the season. He has been limited in practices this spring and spent most of it wearing a non-contact jersey. He is not expected to play on G-Day, but is hopeful to be ready by the start of the season.

Rome will have to prove he can be more consistent with his hands to help out Mason. He is listed as an inch taller than Lynch and, by proving he can be a solid possession tight end, he has the potential to not only be a dependable target, but also an offensive threat for Georgia in 2014.

Beyond Rome and Hicks, Georgia will look to experiment with their depth at tight end on G-Day.

There are, currently, three other tight ends listed on Georgia’s roster. After being redshirted his freshman year, Jordan Davis is probably the next guy in line to see the field on G-Day.

Size and bulk is also an issue for these inexperienced tight ends. Rome and Hicks weigh in at around 255 pounds, while the other competitors hover in the mid 220s. Strength may be the factor that holds the reserves from seeing the field time in the future.

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1 comment:

  • jsobasky posted at 10:22 pm on Wed, Apr 9, 2014.

    jsobasky Posts: 3

    A big bruising 5'9'' 190 RB? Douglas runs well behind his pads but he is not a big bruising back.