THE TEN AT 10
1. I had a brief audience last week with Georgia tailback Todd Gurley, who acknowledged reports that he is currently in the best shape of his career.
“Yeah, I’ve been feeling good,” the 6-foot-1, 226-pound junior said. “I haven’t been really getting tired at all. I’ve been feeling great.”
After an injury-riddled sophomore season, Gurley has been able to participate in every practice and workout since offseason workouts began in February. Coaches Mike Bobo and Bryan McClendon challenged Gurley to exhibit leadership by example heading into what’s expected to be his final year in college. Gurley has been able to answer that without a misstep to this point.
Gurley is the subject of a profile written by AJC’s Steve Hummer that will appear in our college football preview section, which comes out this weekend. Be sure to check it out.
2. Gurley’s solid body of work has been talked about a good bit during this preseason camp. What has been less discussed has been durability displayed Gurley’s cohort in the backfield, Keith Marshall.
Marshall, who is coming off an ACL reconstruction last December, also has been able to get through Georgia’s preseason camp without any setbacks. At one point consideration was being given to redshirt year for Marshall. Now it appears he is not only firmly entrenched as Gurley’s backup, but he may be getting close to becoming 1-B to Gurley’s 1-A once again.
It’s easy to forget that, before both of them got injured a third of the way into last season, Gurley and Marshall were averaging 17.1 and 12.7 carries a game, respectively.
“I’m definitely glad he’s back and I’m proud of him,” Gurley said of having Marshall back in the fold. “He’s been having a great camp. He’s been able to finish a lot of his runs. Last year at this time, if somebody would have grabbed his legs, he probably would have (gone down). But he’s definitely driving his knees a lot more and finishing his runs.”
I haven’t had a chance to talk to Marshall during this preseason and am not sure if he’ll make himself available before the first game. The last time I heard anything from the former 5-star tailback was when he talked to Dawg247’s Gentry Estes during the Bulldogs’ visit to Camp Sunshine back in July.
“It was just a bump in the road,” Marshall said them. “You’ve got to get over it. I’m not doing to dwell on it. Three years down the road no one is going to feel back for you because you tore your ACL. . … After it happened, I focused on rehab and getting back stronger.” “They look just like me and Keith, doing the same things we’ve been doing. They’re pressing their tracks, hitting it full speed, just bringing it every day.
3. Of course, Georgia ended up playing a total of 11 games without either Gurley or Marshall, and Gurley was limited to fewer than 10 carries in two other games due to injuries. Freshman backups Brendan D0uglas and J.J. Green came through big time for the Bulldogs during that stretch, averaging 58 yards a game between them. But Georgia appears even better equipped to withstand such a scenario this season.
Though Green has moved to defense, Douglas is back and has been as solid ever working third team behind Gurley and Marshall. And, of course, Georgia’s two 5-star freshman signees Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have generated plenty of buzz in camp.
“They look just like me and Keith,” Gurley said. “They’re doing the same things we’ve been doing. They’re pressing their tracks, hitting it full speed, just bringing it every day.”
How Georgia might work in the freshmen with three established veterans ahead of them — or if they’ll even try — is one of the biggest mysteries heading into next week.
“We’ll see what happens,” Douglas told reporters after a recent practice. “It’s up to the coaches. If they want me to play I’m ready to go. It’s fine. I love competing and we’re competing for the job. But, then again, we’re helping each other out and trying to make each other better.”
4. Interesting read about Louisville coach Bobby Petrino and his new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in the Sports Illustrated college preview section. According to reporters Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, who cited sources “with ties to the team,” there is “significant friction” between the former Georgia defensive coordinator and his new boss. The sources claim that that their working relationship is so bad that Petrino would have fired Grantham before the season opener if it wasn’t for his iron-clad, five-year, $5 million contract.
Of course, that news came as no surprise to Georgia fans and observers, who watched Grantham up close the last three years in Athens. Both Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz of The AJC weighed in on the situation yesterday. Bradley has included a poll with his blog if you’d like to cast a vote.
So far, though, FootballScoop.com is the only outlet to have talked to Grantham about it. In a telephone interview with Scott Roussel, Grantham said he “laughed off” the report and insists that he and his family are very happy in Louisville.
5. There’s a great event for fathers in Norcross on Saturday that I’m hoping to drop in on. It’s called “All Pro Dad Live” and it will be hosted by former NFL coach Tony Dungy, Atlanta-based comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and Georgia coach Mark Richt inside the Long Forum on Greater Atlanta Christian School campus.
Dungy and Richt are longtime friends and spokesmen for All Pro Dads. The stated purpose of the live event is “to remind men of their importance in the family model, to encourage and equip men to become better fathers and to create community and share some laughs.” In addition to the three headliners, other speakers include Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward and Danny Wuerffel, current and former NFL executives Mark Dominick and Troy Vincent, Fox News anchor Bret Baier and FedEx COO and President Michael Ducker.
The all-day affair starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at THIS WEBSITE.
6. Georgia’s women’s soccer team is slated to make a little history this week. The Bulldogs’ season opener on the road against Ole Miss this Friday will be aired on the SEC Network. That will make it the first in-season live sports event of any kind to be broadcast on the new network, which debuted August 14. Georgia and the Rebels are slated to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.
That’s one of three soccer games the Bulldogs will have nationally televised this fall. They’ll also be on the SEC Network against Vanderbilt on Sept. 21 (3 p.m.) and on ESPNU against LSU on Oct. 19 (3 p.m.). Depending on where UGA finishes during regular-season league play, the SEC Network will also televise the first, quarterfinal, and semifinal rounds of the SEC Soccer Championships Nov. 3-9 in Orange Beach, Ala. The finals will air on ESPNU.
Like pretty much all other sports, all other Georgia home games will be carried live on the SEC Network’s digital platform, SEC Network + (plus). IMG’s Kevin Copp and Lisa Boyd will provide commentary for those games.
Coach Steve Holeman’s soccer team is coming off a 3-0 win over Auburn in exhibition action this past Saturday at the UGA Soccer Stadium. The Bulldogs got goals from sophomores Alexa Antetomaso and Rachel Garcia and freshman Kelsey Killean. Freshman goalkeeper Louise Hogrell recorded the shutout.
7. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is now making its way through Georgia’s athletics department. First senior offensive tackle Watts Dantzler, whose father Danny Dantzler died of ALS five years ago, enlisted Coach Richt to help him and his mother and two others answer the challenge on the Woodruff Practice Fields. Then on Sunday, Chuck Dowdle called out Cindy Fox, Kathryn Richt and Suzanne Yoculan Leebern. They answered the challenge on Monday, and now they’ve called out gymnastics coach Danna Durante, basketball coach Mark Fox and Coach Richt. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ll come up with to top them.
8. I didn’t see this video of Stephen A. Smith speaking at Columbus State back when it originally was recorded at the end of July. Nevertheless a portion of it was being re-circulated via social media this week because of what the controversial ESPN personality said about the arrests of UGA football players over the last half a year. It’s probably not what you’d expect. So for what it’s worth, here it is. …
9. Speaking of videos, UGA has put together a pretty good one that chronicles the football team’s time working this summer with “The Program,” a group of special forces and Navy SEALs veterans who put the Bulldogs through the paces for two days this summer.
10. This & that: You hear us media types talking glowingly all the time about Georgia’s Hall of Fame sports communications director Claude Felton. Claude works pretty hard to stay behind the curtain, but Bulldawg Illustrated published a nice piece about him on Tuesday. … Did you see where former Bulldog Blair Walsh made a 70-yard field goal in pregame warmups this past weekend? … Crawford Berry is a diver from Alpharetta who is transferring to Georgia from Darton State. He recently was named the 2014 David Rowlands Male Student-Athlete of the Year for all sports in the NJCAA. Berry spent two years at the Albany school and swept the 1- and 3-meter springboards at the national meet each season. He is the first participant in swimming and diving to win the award, which began in 1993.