ATHENS, Ga. -- As he was about to be caught in a 6-foot-6 eclipse Saturday, Georgia quarterback Jon England must have been thinking: "Wait a second, this is only spring practice."
But alas, the hit came anyway, as England was whacked, then planted by defensive lineman Marcus Stroud on an unfortunate option play early in the Bulldogs' first full-speed, full-contact scrimmage of the spring at Sanford Stadium.
The collision, which drew admiring gasps from the fairly large crowd taking in the midday sun, was a highlight of the day for Stroud. To his credit, England popped right back up, bearing a small cut on his chin as a souvenir. "I've got to get a new chin strap now," he said after practice, happy that he won't have to get a new head to go with it.
Yes, Saturday's workout was as close to real football as the Bulldogs have come this spring. It was their seventh practice, leaving them halfway through their practices before the final spring showcase, the April 25 G-Day game. There were probably more lows than highs for Georgia on Saturday, but at this point, Georgia head coach Jim Donnan's main concern is clear.
"Well, No. 1, we didn't get anybody hurt significantly enough to have any problems," he said.
There were a few minor casualties: Olandis Gary spent a few moments on the ground after a run off tackle, but quickly reentered Georgia's much-depleted running back rotation; tight end Randy McMichael bruised his right hip while diving to make a catch, and did not return. A bigger concern for Georgia was trouble executing at full speed.
"We've got some more work to do to get everybody on the same page," said England, who took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense. "It's getting everybody to think the same thing at the same time, with it all clicking together, which you saw last year with (Mike) Bobo and Hines (Ward) and all them, the way they got the timing down. That's coming along pretty good, I think, so far."
None of the three quarterbacks stood out, as England, Mike Usry and Nate Hybl each had trouble hitting receivers. There were also a few dropped passes, and some fumbles by the Bulldog running backs, but in general, the running game looked much more polished than the passing attack.
Patrick Pass scored the lone touchdown, while Olandis Gary and Nick Callaway each put together several impressive runs. Ronnie Bradley was in uniform but did not participate; he is still nursing a hamstring injury.
Donnan said he was generally pleased with the effort, but noted that some sloppiness is to be expected after so few practices.
"That'd be like going out and playing a game with only four days of practice," he said. "It's hard to do a whole lot and look like a college team when you're doing so many individual drills, and you don't have the seniors that you lost, you don't have your freshmen that are coming in. It's hard to play against each other."