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Ten@10: Bulldogs ramp up training tempo in response to hurry-up trend

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Georgia senior cornerback Damian Swann shows his group the ropes during mat drills earlier this year. (UGA phot bny Steven Colquitt)

Georgia senior cornerback Damian Swann shows his group the ropes during mat drills earlier this year. (UGA phot bny Steven Colquitt)

Apologies for the late arrival of “The Ten at 10,” but it was delayed by the development of some breaking news Tuesday morning. Here, then, is the de facto Ten at 11. …

THE TEN AT 10

1. Georgia hasn’t gone into great detail about it just yet, but the Bulldogs pretty much retooled their strength and conditioning workout routine this summer. Coach Mark Richt said part of it was to address the avalanche of injuries the team encountered last season and part of it was to adjust to the increasingly fast pace at which college football is being played.

Richt said the Bulldogs reviewed video of the fastest-paced offenses they played last season and logged how long it took for the the actual plays to be executed and how much time elapsed before the next play. They wanted to determine how long players exert maximum physical output versus how long they had to recover between plays.

As one might guess, there wasn’t much recovery time against the highest-tempo teams (ie: Auburn, Clemson, Missouri).

“Not many plays go to past eight seconds of exertion; most are about five or six seconds,” Richt said. “The teams that are going to fastest and snapping that ball within 20 to 25 seconds. So we wanted to make sure a lot of our training was that way.”

Richt said the recovery times used to be in the 30- to 40-second range. So the Bulldogs are having the players sprint hard and lift hard in 8- to 10-second spurts repetitively and are giving them 20 seconds or less to recover.

“We’re giving them probably a shorter recovery time in training so we’re able to handle the fastest of the teams that go,” Richt said.

2. Picking up the tempo hasn’t been the only adjustment. Georgia has also adopted a specialized, body-type-specific kind of exercising known as “fusionetics.” It’s designed to identify the areas of players’ bodies most vulnerable to injury and assigns specific exercises to improve flexibility in those areas. And, as was well-established in during spring practice, the Bulldogs looked to drop weight overall as a team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Georgia’s players insist they can tell a difference.

“Everybody’s in the best shape of their lives right now,” said senior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson. “Everybody’s dropping weight, everybody’s looking good. It’s mostly mental.”
Richt said the Bulldogs can expect more of the same when preseason camp begins Aug. 1.

3. According to UGA wide receiver Chris Conley, conditioning wasn’t the only area in which adjustments were made. Attitudes were altered as well.

Conley said the departures of three defensive backs from the program during spring semester had a crystallizing effect on the players that remained.

“A lot of people who were at Georgia are not there anymore,” said Conley, a senior. “For the rest of us, I think it was kind of a statement to say, ‘we’re going to do things the Georgia way and if it’s not the way you want to do things then you won’t be here.’ We love those guys, but in order to move forward some changes had to be made. The team really bought into that and realized what we need to do to get where we want to go.”

Safeties Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews were dismissed from the team. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins chose to transfer over philosophical differences with defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt.

“The thing we can control is ourselves,” Conley said. “Moving forward the young guys need to understand that and the older guys have realized it and need to lead with that in mind.”

4. Apparently Conley’s message hasn’t gotten through to all of his teammates. As everybody learned Tuesday morning, sophomore defensive lineman Jon Taylor was arrested on aggravated assault/domestic violence charges overnight. The charges stem from an incident that occurred sometime after 2 a.m. in Taylor’s residence at McWhorter Hall in the East Campus Village area of the UGA campus. He is accused of strangling his girlfriend in the midst of a domestic dispute.

That will likely end the Georgia career of Taylor, a 4-star prospect out of Jenkins County. Last month, he had been entered into a pretrial diversion program for his involvement in the theft-by-deception scheme that resulted in the arrest of four football players this past month. And regardless of that situation, felony charges result in an automatic indefinite suspension for UGA student-athletes.

5. Taylor’s arrest followed by a day the news that a football recruit in town to attend Georgia’s “Dawg Night” elite prospect camp was being sought for a burglary that occurred in Busbee Hall dormitory early Saturday morning. UGA Police know the identity of the suspect but have not released it pending verification of his age and the possible execution of a warrant.

The incidents were very poorly timed for the Georgia football program. Richt spent a good amount of time at SEC Football Media Days in Birmingham last week defending the Bulldogs’ tougher-than-most disciplinary policies.

Taylor’s arrest represented the fifth among football players in 2014 and follows two player dismissals for team rules violations.

6. The disciplinary breakdowns have overshadowed a weekend of good news regarding the Bulldogs’ recruiting efforts. Georgia locked down the commitments of four prospects over the last week, including a pair of 5-star prospects for the Class of 2016.

Ben Cleveland is an offensive tackle from Stephens County High School in Toccoa.  Jacob Eason is a quarterback from Lake Stevens, Wash.. Both pledged to UGA after competing together in the Dawg Night prospect camp on Friday.

Before that, the Bulldogs landed a pair of 2015 commitments from defensive backs: Shaquery Wilson from Miami and Deontai Williams of Jacksonville, Fla. Williams flipped his commitment from Florida to the Bulldogs.

7. Gerry Glasco has left the Georgia softball program. And he may or may not be taking more of the team with him.

Glasco recently left his position at Georgia as associate head coach to Lu Harris-Champer to accept the same position under Jo Ryan at Texas A&M (even though the Aggies already had one associate head coach). Meanwhile, a UGA spokesperson confirmed that Glasco’s daughter, rising junior Geri Ann Glasco, has also left the program. Geri Ann, one of the Bulldogs’ best power hitters (10 homers, 42 RBI last year) was granted an unconditional release but has not settled yet on a transfer destination. Softball insiders are saying she could follow her father to Texas A&M or may end up at Oregon or another school out west.

That’s not the end of the Glasco exodus. Oldest daughter Tara Archibald, who has been an assistant coach for the past three years, has also left the program. No word on where she might end up.

8. The Bulldogs appear to have moved on quickly. Last week they announced they’d hired Tony Baldwin as an assistant coach. Baldwin comes from the University of North Carolina, where he’d been since serving UGA as a volunteer coach in 2011-12. And it’s not like Georgia is in the throes of rebuilding. The Bulldogs went 49-15 last season and were one step from making the College World Series before getting knocked out of the Athens Super Regional by Baylor. The entire team is slated to return for the 2015 season, sans Glasco, of course.

9. A scheduling error by Georgia tennis player Austin Smith has cost him a spot in this week’s BBT Atlanta Open at Atlantic Station. However, Smith’s UGA teammate Nathan Pasha has been granted the wildcard entry and will compete in the singles draw Tuesday night.

“Austin made a little mistake and forgot to withdraw from his tournament in Illinois once he received a wildcard from BB&T, and it’s something the ATP has to be strict about,”

Georgia coach Manuel Diaz explained. “Luckily for us, Nathan is being awarded the wildcard and will play in Austin’s place on Tuesday night as part of College Night. We are looking forward to seeing him play.”

Smith instead will play in the USTA Futures tournament in Godfrey, Ill., as the Bulldogs continue to compete this summer in preparation for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

The event in Atlanta began July 19 with qualifying action, and is set to run through July 27 at Atlantic Station. It is the first men’s event on the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Pasha is playing in the main draw for the first time after competing in the qualifying each of the last two summers.

Smith instead will play in the USTA Futures tournament in Godfrey, Ill. The rising junior from Cumming ended a breakout sophomore season with a singles record of 35-12, best on the team. Pasha finished with a No. 30 ranking after logging 28-14 record in singles as a junior last season.

10. This & that: Congratulations to Janet Harris on the news that she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Harris was the first big star for the Lady Bulldogs and set UGA career individual records in 10 statistical categories when she played at Georgia from 1982-85. She will be the fourth Lady Bulldog to enter the Hall, joining Teresa Edwards, Katrina McLain and coach Andy Landers. … Tammy Mettenberger, the mother of former LSU and Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, retired as an administrative assistant in the football office at the end of June. She worked at UGA for more than 20 years. … Zach Mettenberger, who is now a rookie with the Tennessee Titans, was “sucker punched” in a bar over the weekend. It was an Alabama fan, according to reports, and Mettenberger did nothing wrong. … Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson of Gainesville will definitely play against Georgia in the season opener on Aug. 30, according to tiger.net. Watson was heavily recruited by the Bulldogs. He suffered a minor collarbone injury in spring practice but reportedly has fully recovered.

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