ATHENS, Ga. — Cornelius Washington is settling in at defensive end after playing outside linebacker the past two seasons.
The former Burke County standout had three sacks and six tackles in Georgia’s first scrimmage a week ago and gets another chance to shine in another preseason scrimmage Wednesday afternoon.
“He’s quick, he’s athletic,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.
“Give the guy space, he’s going to make things happen in there.”
Washington’s scrimmage showing wasn’t just a mirage, according to defensive line coach Rodney Garner said.
“He’s really gone out there and really been focused,” Garner said of the practices that followed the scrimmage. “I told him to take his game to the next level, he’s got to make sure he’s a master of the little things to separate him from everybody else.”
Garner is pleased with his entire starting unit: Washington, nose guard John Jenkins and defensive end Abry Jones.
Washington, a fifth-year senior, can use his athleticism at his new spot.
“By him going and playing that position, it allows him to take the skill-set that he has and utilize it as a mismatch against people at times,” Grantham said.
TAILBACK BATTLE: About halfway through preseason practices, there’s not a lot of separation among the top four players competing at tailback, according to coach Mark Richt.
“I think they’re all pretty good backs,” Richt said. “I think they’re all going to get their opportunity to play throughout the year. Who’s going to be the starter? I don’t know. We’ll be anxious to see all of them really. I will be.”
Redshirt sophomore Ken Malcome, who entered the preseason in the No. 1 spot, has been diligent to make sure he understands everything about his job, Richt said.
Freshmen Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and senior Richard Samuel are competing with Malcome in the backfield.
TIGHT ENDS SHINE: With school starting on Monday, Georgia was able to go beyond the 105-player preseason camp roster limit.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo noticed how many players at one particular position were now practicing.
“Look at all the tight ends we’ve got,” Bobo shouted. “It’s Tight End U.”
Even on a day when freshman Ty Flournoy-Smith was limited due to a strained hamstring, Georgia still had seven other tight ends practicing.
Behind scholarship tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome, there were walk-ons Jared Chapple, Jack Loonam, Geoff Rapp, Cole Trolinger and Drew Wilson.
Richt reiterated that the plan is for Flournoy-Smith to play this season.
“He’s a guy that we feel like we’ve got to get ready,” Richt said.
SCRIMMAGE TIME: The team will head to Sanford Stadium this afternoon for another scrimmage.
“I want the No. 1 units to dominate, I hope,” Richt said. “I want to see guys on the No. 2 unit making plays that would make us believe they’re ready to play SEC football. I hope we have a healthy day. That’s big.”
Georgia will hold one final scrimmage next week, but it will be a “practice game” to prepare for the opener against Buffalo. The No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense will be on the same team for that one.
“Sometimes when you’re competing without tackling to the ground, it’s hard to really see who’s doing what,” Richt said. “It becomes a lot more clear when you scrimmage.”
THIS AND THAT: Bobo will continue to call plays from the press box after moving back upstairs prior to last season. In the preseason, his unit has gone up against Grantham’s. “It’s a chess match,” Richt said. “We know so much about each other that there’s a lot of checking at the line of scrimmage. The defense knows something’s coming and they’ll check and the offense might check again. It’s kind of a cat and mouse game, but it’s a lot of fun.” …After a day off Tuesday, today will be the second practice since school began this week. “When you break camp, it’s a little anticlimactic when you’re sitting here for the next three weeks kind of waiting to play a game,” Richt said. “School starts and there are other distractions going on. Now’s the time when you’ve really got to focus on becoming better and not lose any focus that we created in camp. The bottom line is we’ve got to be mentally strong enough to continue to create habits that are going to help us win.”