The Bulldogs have a new defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, and that’s not the only thing that will look different when the team opens spring practice March 18.
Hutson Mason isn’t exactly a newcomer, but this will be the fifth-year senior’s first – and only – full season as the starting quarterback after he backed up Aaron Murray most of his career.
“When you have change, it adds excitement to what’s going on,” Richt said Wednesday. “I think the players, especially on defense, know that every job is wide open.”
Richt said he wasn’t necessarily looking for a major overhaul after the Bulldogs, picked to win the Southeastern Conference East for the third year in a row, endured a rash of injuries and slumped to 8-5.
“Change doesn’t necessarily mean something needs to be fixed,” he said. “There’s just different ways of doing things.”
ON THE MOVE
Tailback J.J. Green has moved to cornerback. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that coaches looked at using him in the slot, but he’s heading to the secondary at least for the spring. Fullback Quayvon Hicks will play primarily tight end this spring, Bobo said, and the plan is to groom him for an H-back type role.
Pruitt said that outside linebackers James DeLoach and Josh Dawson are moving to defensive end at their request.
OFFENSIVE LINE’S SHAPING UP
John Theus is getting the first crack at left tackle with Kolton Houston at right tackle, David Andrews still at center and Mark Beard will work at left guard, Bobo said.
“I think Theus will have a good chance of being able to do that, but that’s why you practice and see what’s the best combination,” Richt said.
Several injured players won’t be able to go in the spring, including running back Keith Marshall and tight end Jay Rome.
Receiver Malcolm Mitchell might be able to take part in non-contact drills but won’t be fully cleared until the fall.
Then there’s star running back Todd Gurley, who battled all sorts of leg issues last season; Richt plans to limit Gurley’s work this spring, while Bobo wants to get him on the field as much as possible.
Assuming Gurley and Marshall are both fully recovered by the fall, Green didn’t figure to get much playing time at tailback. Pruitt felt the sophomore could be a bigger contributor on defense.
“It’s a little crowded back there at the running back spot,” Pruitt said. “J.J. wants an opportunity to play, and this gives him a chance.”