Published Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:19 am
football
Georgia Notes: Bulldog defense gets back to tackling
Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia
When: 11 a.m. Wednesday
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had a succinct answer for why he chose to have Bulldog defenders engage in full tackling drills for two practices this week.

“Because we ain't tackled since Georgia Tech,” Grantham said in a ballroom of the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.

Grantham elaborated, saying Georgia's practices in Athens were more of a warmup to the workouts in Jacksonville. So for Georgia's first two workouts at Jacksonville University, defenders tackled to the ground for 10 to 15 plays.

“When you have that amount of layoff, it's important you get your timing down,” Grantham said. “And the only way you know you can tackle guys is to do it full speed. So that's what we did.”

Bug hits Bulldogs

Georgia chose a walk-through instead of an on-field practice Sunday, but coach Mark Richt said an illness making the rounds might have been problematic for the Bulldogs, anyway.

Center David Andrews and tailback Todd Gurley were among players feeling the effects of what Richt said was “hopefully just a 24-hour bug type of thing.” Quarterback Hutson Mason also practiced through it in recent days.

Richt said he didn't think any of the afflicted were bad off enough that they might have been out if the game were played Sunday.

“I think they would have played with it,” he said. “It would have been tough. A lot of times guys get dehydrated and all that. They might have had to take some fluids before the game.”

Drew steps up for defense

Georgia needed help defensively after losing seven players to the NFL draft. It found some with a junior defensive end who had never started a game until this season.

Ray Drew came through with 39 tackles, six sacks and 12 quarterback hurries.

“I think it's a good example of how you've just got to keep working and developing, and a guy like Ray it kind of clicked for him and he came on,” Grantham said. “And then he gets pretty comfortable and he starts playing fast, and doing the things you'd like for him to do.”

Grantham said Georgia skipped a redshirt season for Drew in 2011 because of a “lack of linemen with his ability.” Though he was limited to seven games that season as a true freshman, Grantham said the playing time helped the 6-foot-5, 276-pounder be ready this season.

Eyeing replacements at safety

Grantham was noncommittal about Georgia's plans to replace safety Josh Harvey-Clemons — suspended for the Gator Bowl for a violation of team rules. Grantham mentioned utility defender Connor Norman, corner Damian Swann, corner Brendan Langley and corner Devin Bowman as possible replacements.

Swann, who had two interceptions in the Capital One Bowl last season, starts at corner, so if he were to slide inside, Langley or Bowman might take his place at corner. Georgia also has two other safeties — Quincy Mauger and Tray Matthews — who could fill the “star” role in Harvey-Clemons' absence. The “star” position is similar to the dime linebacker position in Nebraska's defense, a hybrid safety-linebacker.

Line focused on NU's Gregory

Offensive line coach Will Friend said Sunday that the Bulldogs must find the right balance in dealing with Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, who led the Big Ten with 9Ĺ sacks.

“You're aware of him,” Friend said. “You know you're going to have to play good against him, and you're going to have to do things to help at different times that are within what you already do. I think sometimes if you go too far out of the way that you end up creating more issues, but he is really a good football player and he can create issues for people.”

Friend said the Georgia front five will have its hands full in general, even though NU is without defensive end Avery Moss.

“I think they've got good pass rushers off the edge, and I think they got strong guys in the middle,” he said. “I think they're tough. I think they're well-coached. I think they're a big challenge for us to beat, and we're going to have to play well.”

* * *

>> Video: See highlights from Nebraska's practice:



>> Video: See coach Bo Pelini address the media:

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust

rich.kaipust@owh.com    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Contact the writer: Sam McKewon

sam.mckewon@owh.com    |   402-219-3790    |  

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him. Follow him on Twitter. Call him.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >