Posted: 1:51 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014
By Chip Towers
THE MONDAY REWIND
The Georgia football team took off Sunday and Monday after practicing 19 times the first 16 days of August. They’ll return to the field on Tuesday for the final 10 days of preparation for the Aug. 30 opener against Clemson. Here’s what happened over the weekend.
1. Many people don’t realize that when the Bulldogs say they’re in preseason camp, they’re truly in a camp. For the past two weeks, 105 players and select members of the support staff have been living in hotel rooms at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. That ended and they checked out this past weekend. The players moved back into dorms and/or personal residences for the start of classes, which began Monday.
Conveniently, the Georgia Center is located about a Marshall Morgan field goal away from Woodruff Practice Fields. So most players walked to practice while some occasionally rode scooters two blocks around to the Butts-Mehre locker room entrance. The student-athletes ate, drank, slept and held meetings in the expansive hotel and conference facility.
“People do not understand that,” junior tailback Todd Gurley said with a laugh. “People will be texting me and they’re like, ‘what are doing?’ And I’m, like, ‘I’m in camp.’ They’ll say, ‘text me if you’re out this weekend.’ I’m like, ‘ain’t gonna be out. I’m in camp. I’ve been in this hotel since like the 30th.’ They just don’t understand.”
All the expenses are absorbed by the Georgia Athletic Association, which budgeted $114,000 for this year’s stay, according to Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity.
“The dorms are closed, so the student-athletes have to have somewhere to stay,” McGarity said. “It works out really well having them there. That’s where we’re going to have training table for them this year. Bill Crowe and his staff at the Georgia Center do a fantastic job.
You’ll hear no complaints from the players.
“You get free food over there so you can’t beat that,” Gurley said. “But I just like my bed. My bed is more comfortable.”
2. Because of NCAA roster limitations, several players who will be on the team this fall were unable to be with the team during camp. Among those left off were injured players such as offensive lineman Jake Edwards and tailback A.J. Turman (toe). But the other 20 members of the team will be able to join the rest of the squad now that classes have started. So the Bulldogs will be working with 125 players going forward.
3. There has been more than a little cynicism regarding the recent Facebook phenomena called the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which is designed to raise awareness — and funds — for seeking a cure for ALS. But don’t count Georgia senior offensive tackle Watts Dantzler among the cynics. Dantzler’s father, Bulldog football letterman Danny Dantzler, died of the disease five years ago.
So Dantzler, along with his mother Jean Dantzler and some family and friends, enlisted the help of coach Mark Richt for their own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past weekend. They did four in a row right there on the UGA practice fields. Off camera, I’m told it ended in an emotional embrace between Dantzler and his mom.
I also got called out to do the challenge this past weekend and was happy to oblige. In turn, I called out the AJC’s Jeff Schultz, Buck Belue of 680 The Fan and roller derby star Dani Doom. It’s my understanding that this seemingly silly enterprise has raised more than $10 million for ALS research, so it’s definitely worth making a fool of one’s self, I’d say.
4. The Bulldogs held two scrimmages this past weekend. They had a controlled, game-simulation scrimmage on Friday night, then a special-teams scrimmage late Saturday. In between they held Fans Picture Day at Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
I was off, so Tanya Sichynski covered the Friday scrimmage. She reported that the offense started strong but the defense might’ve won the day when it came to critical controlled situations, such as third and long. You can review the stats provided by UGA HERE.
With those workouts in the books, the Bulldogs will now shift the focus from themselves to the game plan for Clemson.
5. Aaron Murray made rather splashy debut in his first NFL appearance. On his first snap from center as a backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, Murray threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Unfortunately, he also threw an interception on the next series (that might should have been caught). He finished 5-of-9 passing for 81 yards.