A look at the Bulldogs 13 days before their season opener at home against Georgia Southern on Sept. 2:
Latest news: Georgia was scheduled to scrimmage at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night. The Bulldogs abandoned their routinely light Friday practices for full-contact drills because two-a-days ended with Thursday's start of classes.
Injuries: Cap Burnett, Georgia's returning starter at free safety, left Friday's practice with a slight concussion. Coach Jim Donnan said he wasn't sure when Burnett would return. Freshman safety Rod Davis had surgery on his right shoulder and will be redshirted this season. Other players who have missed time: guard Brady Pate (hip), receiver Damien Gary (knee), defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan (throat), kicker Billy Bennett (groin), offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb (hand) and receiver Tavarus Morgan (shoulder).
Surprises: Sophomore tight end Jason Rader has impressed Donnan and figures to see playing time this season behind senior Jevaris Johnson and sophomore Randy McMichael. Senior Jermaine Phillips, who spent his first three years at split end, has been solid in his new free-safety position. Also, sophomore Jonathan Kilgo has established himself as the team's punter with an impressive preseason camp.
Disappointments: There aren't many. The injuries are somewhat of a concern, and junior quarterback Quincy Carter has looked shaky at times. Otherwise, Donnan doesn't have much to complain about.
Analysis: Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs was brought in to shore up a unit that was the worst in the SEC in 1999, and Donnan likes what he has seen so far. The defensive line appears stronger against the run, and the secondary has picked off its share of passes.
Quote: "Arnold has got to gain some weight, but we're real confident in him. He's just like we thought. He's a very good athlete. He's going to be a good player down the road. Right now, we won't say if (he) is going to play this year or not." -- Donnan, on former Josey High standout Arnold Harrison, a freshman defensive end at Georgia.
A look at the Yellow Jackets seven days before their season opener at No. 10 Virginia Tech on Aug. 27:
Latest news:Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary moved junior linebacker Ross Mitchell (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) to fullback behind starter Ed Wilder. Sophomore Gary Johnson is being converted to a defensive tackle after moving to fullback halfway through last season.
Johnson (6-1, 265) was recruited as a linebacker but was used primarily as a blocker in the offensive backfield in 1999. Mitchell started the final six games at middle linebacker, registering 53 tackles.
Injuries:Defensive tackle Guenter Kryszon will miss the Virginia Tech game because of a neck injury suffered last week. He will be reevaluated following the season opener.
Surprises:In Tech's final scrimmage, the No. 1 defensive unit, with nine returning starters, held the offense scoreless.
Disappointments:Short-yardage and goal-line ineptness prompted O'Leary to shuffle his fullback personnel.
Analysis:One constant from spring drills was junior George Godsey's position as Tech's No. 1 quarterback. The longtime backup has been showered with praise throughout the preseason for his grasp of the offense.
In the Yellow Jackets' final summer scrimmage, Godsey completed 10 of 15 passes for 147 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to Kerry Watkins. If Godsey can limit turnovers and Tech's ground game removes some pressure from him, the Jackets may surprise critics predicting their downfall.
Quote:"George is the quarterback and he's done nothing to not be the quarterback. He controls the offense, he's a great leader in the huddle and he knows that to do with the ball when he has it in his hand." -- O'Leary on George Godsey's grasp of the offense.
A look at the Tigers 13 days before their season opener at home against The Citadel on Sept. 2:
Latest news: Tigers coach Tommy Bowden commended his defense following Saturday's scrimmage at Death Valley. Sophomore linebacker Rodney Thomas stepped out of the shadows of Keith Adams and Chad Carson to register seven tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
Junior quarterback Woody Dantzler completed 13 of 33 passes for 95 yards against the No. 1 defense. Freshman Willie Simmons converted 11 of 22 passes for 121 yards, including a 30-yarder to Kevin Youngblood.
Injuries: Wide receiver Rod Gardner played sparingly in the scrimmage while recovering from turf toe. Starting center Kyle Young has been hampered by a foot injury. Freshman receiver Derrick Hamilton injured his hamstring on Aug. 12 and has missed practice since, which may lead to a redshirt and prevent him from contributing this season.
Surprises: During Saturday's controlled scrimmage, freshman kicker Aaron Hunt converted field-goal attempts from 40, 21, and 19 yards. Hunt, who was perfect in the scrimmage, is No. 1 on the depth chart. Last year's starter Tony Lazzara was 1-of-2, hitting from 25 yards and missing from 45.
Disappointments: The emergence of a big-play threat to complement wideout Rod Gardner, who undoubtedly will attract constant double coverage after setting school records for catches (80) and yards (1,084) in 1999.
Analysis: Clemson's deficiencies in 1999 were a horrendous kicking game and mediocre kick returners. If Hunt can deliver from 40 yards, the ACC upstarts would be sound in all three facets of the game.
Quote: "The defense continued to dominate, but I'm happy with that at this point. The defense has shown more quickness and enthusiasm so far. We didn't have as many big plays on offense; that is something we need to improve on." -- Bowden, assessing his team's play after its three-hour, 125-play scrimmage Saturday.
A look at the Gamecocks 13 days before their season opener at home against New Mexico State on Sept. 2:
Latest news: South Carolina worked out twice Saturday. Starting quarterback Phil Petty sat out a portion of Friday's drills because of a sore right elbow. The pain, according to Gamecocks coaches, is a result of increased repetitions in the team's new spread offense, and it isn't expected to hamper the junior signal-caller.
Injuries: Freshman Dondrial Pinkins, who had made a convincing push for the backup spot behind Petty, suffered a sprained left knee Wednesday and is expected to miss the opener. Others who have missed action: defensive tackle Cecil Caldwell (ankle), cornerback Andre Goodman (ankle), linebacker Andre Offing (hamstring), offensive tackle Melvin Paige (knee), offensive lineman Chad Walker (neck), defensive tackle Ron John-Finn (shoulder), receiver Carlos Spikes (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Anthony Overstreet (testicular surgery).
Surprises: Coach Lou Holtz said the offense dominated the defense in the team's first scrimmage. The new look allowed for big plays from Petty, running back Derek Watson, receivers Brian Scott, Jermale Kelly, Willis Ham and James Adkisson, among others.
Disappointments: Injuries continue to impede the Gamecocks' return to respectability, most of them occurring on defense. South Carolina needs Offing and Thomas to return to bolster a largely unproven linebacking corps. Also, a consistent punter or kick-off man has yet to identify himself. Freshman offensive lineman Jason Harris (6-foot-6, 330 pounds) quit the team Thursday, telling Holtz he didn't have the desire to play football.
Analysis: The primary task for Holtz entering summer drills was to strengthen an offense that was pitiful in 1999, and things appear headed in the right direction. The offensive line is 17-deep, Petty has adjusted well to the new scheme, and junior-college transfers Adkisson and Corey Alexander infuse the offense with big-play potential that was absent last season.
Quote: "I have never gotten a pleasant surprise in my life -- here."
Holtz, after Pinkins suffered his knee injury.
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