COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: UGA hits practice field, will don pads for first time today; Chizik mum on offseason arrests; killer of UConn star gets 18 years



ATHENS -- The Georgia football team worked out twice this week after seven days off for spring break -- two and half hours in shells Tuesday and Thursday afternoon -- at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

It was the Bulldogs' final two practices before they wear full pads for the first time today.

"It was a good day of competition liked I hoped it would be," head coach Mark Richt said after Thursday's workout. "We got a chance to have a little competition between the offense and the defense in some of the drills we do. It was highly spirited and real good competition. I like their attitude. They are working real hard. There isn't a lot of griping and moaning. Sometimes when things get tough, you hear guys gripe and moan a lot, but overall they are just trying to get better. I do like their attitude a lot."

Thursday's practice was a 180-degree turnaround from Tuesday's session, which Richt was not pleased with.

"I thought we were a little sluggish out there (Tuesday)," Richt said. "I think our team enjoyed spring break just like the rest of the student body. ... They just didn't finish like I would have liked."

Richt noted that after three practices this spring he has already seen an improvement in the Georgia defense. This season will mark the second year under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who installed a new 3-4 system for the 2010 season.

"Kids are getting better at fundamentals now," Richt said. "Last year, a lot of time was spent on knowing what to do. Now that they have an idea of what to do and they are learning how to do it better, so their techniques are improving. That's the biggest thing I see defensively. They are playing faster and with more certainty."

Several Bulldogs had their second and third practices of 2011 at their new positions this week. Senior Bruce Figgins, who was a tight end, got more work at his new fullback position and senior Justin Anderson continued to make the conversion back to the offensive line after lining up at nose guard in 2010.

"I think Bruce is beginning to enjoy his position," Richt said. "He's seeing the possibilities of his new role. I saw him have success back there and that encouraged me."

In addition, sophomore Alec Ogletree lined up at linebacker for only the second practice after starting at safety last year.

Tuesday's session also marked the annual UGA Pro Day when former players have a chance to workout and go through drills with NFL personnel looking on. A.J. Green, Justin Houston, Clint Boling, Shaun Chapas, Akeem Dent, Kris Durham, Demarcus Dobbs, Moultrie native Vance Cuff, Bainbridge's Darryl Gamble, Chris Davis, Josh Davis, Chad Gloer and Kiante Tripp all participated in at least a portion of the activities set up in both the new Butts-Mehre weight room and on the practice fields.

With former players Matthew Stafford and Rennie Curran, among others, on hand to watch the workouts, the Bulldog hopefuls worked out throughout the morning as ESPN3.com carried the Pro Day live online. Former Georgia All-American David Pollack served as one of the hosts for the network.

"I thought our guys who were out there had a great day," Richt said of the pro day. "We had some seniors and some juniors who gave it a shot in front of a lot of NFL scouts and they all did very well. I think many of them have a great chance of making a career in the NFL."

The Bulldogs will wrap up the week with a morning practice today. It will also serve as Georgia's Junior Day, which is when the program welcomes in high school junior prospects.

UGA will practice 12 more times this spring culminating with the annual G-Day game April 16 at 1 p.m. at Sanford Stadium.



AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gene Chizik isn't talking about the offseason arrests and dismissal of five players from the national championship team.

Chizik responded to questions Friday on the off-the-field incidents by saying he would only address "spring practice and our football team and guys that are currently on our team."

That won't include starting safety Mike McNeil and four others.

Chizik also said linebacker Jessel Curry missed the first two practices because of "personal issues."

The Tigers must replace 23 seniors and three junior stars. Chizik says he asked players who started six or more games last season to raise their hands after practice and "didn't see very many hands go up."