Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

August 2, 2013

Murray, Bulldogs bracing for tough early schedule

ATHENS — Aaron Murray said Thursday he’s glad he has had three seasons to prepare for Georgia’s tough first few games this season.

Georgia opens at Clemson on Aug. 31 and also will play South Carolina and LSU in its first four games. Each of the three teams could be ranked in the top 15.

Asked how he would have reacted to those early challenges as a sophomore, Murray said “Oh, I’d be terrified.”

As a senior, Murray said he’s “more excited” about the schedule as Georgia opened practice on Thursday. The Bulldogs’ offense is expected to be strong with 10 returning starters, including tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The full offensive line returns, along with receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett and tight end Arthur Lynch.

Only four starters return on defense from the Georgia team that finished 12-2 and No. 5 in the AP Top 25 last season with a 33-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

One year ago, the defense was the perceived strength as the offense broke in new starters at tailback and on the offensive line. The roles have been reversed.

“Now the defense is the side of the ball that was like the offense last year,” Richt said Thursday. “What are they going to do? What can they accomplish? Are they going to grow up fast enough? I’m sure the defense wants to rise to that challenge, but the reality is in talking to the guys, especially the leadership, is it’s a new year and a new team and we want to approach it that way.”

Georgia was ranked No. 5 in the coaches’ preseason poll released on Thursday. South Carolina was No. 7, Clemson was No. 8 and LSU was No. 13.

Murray, who already graduated with a degree in psychology, returned for his senior season after considering his status for April’s NFL draft. He ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency as a junior and said he returned because he thinks this team can contend for championships — even with the demanding schedule.

Lynch, also a senior, said the narrow loss to Alabama helped Murray’s decision.

“I wasn’t too surprised when we lost the game and had unfinished business,” Lynch said. “I think Aaron came here to win championships first and foremost, not individual records or accolades. I think for him that was his deciding factor. Had we won, I think it would have been interesting to see what he would have done.

“He came back for one more season and hopefully at the end of the day we can say he made the right choice by coming back to win a championship.”

Georgia tied its school record by having eight players selected in the NFL draft. Seven of the picks were defensive players, including linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree in the first round.

The secondary will be especially young. Cornerback Damian Swann is the only returning starter in the unit.

Strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, a projected starter, will miss the Clemson game as he serves a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

A second starter, kicker Marshall Morgan also may miss the opener following his arrest last month for boating under the influence. Richt didn’t announce suspensions last year until game days, and on Thursday he didn’t disclose what punishment awaits Morgan.

“Not yet,” Richt said.

Earlier this week at a speaking engagement, Richt said South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney “might be the very best player who exists today at any level.” The statement became a hot topic on talk radio.

Asked if he stands by that assessment, Richt amended his statement to say Clowney has the potential to develop into a top NFL player.

“I think I said he might be the best one on the planet and it became news,” Richt said. “I think he’s the best college football player in America. There are a couple of other guys you could debate on that. I think I said that if you give him a couple of years of him learning in the NFL, my bet is he’ll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way of saying it.”

 

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS little cats camp 1.jpg Valdosta hosts fundamental camp for ‘Little ’Cats’

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS practice1.jpg Getting Back to Work

    Friday officially began the 2014 season for the Valdosta Wildcats and both the offense and defense came out and made statements.
    After holding spring and summer workouts, the Wildcats will practice four more times without pads before beginning full pad practice next week.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

Blazers Blog
More