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Post Defensive changes continue

Friday September 28, 2007

You have to give the Bulldog coaching staff this:  they’re not proving to be very complacent this year. 

After cycling through three quarterbacks last season, the QB spot is about the only position that hasn’t been shaken up this season.  We’ve seen the linebackers turned upside-down, a freshman force changes on the offensive line, and Knowshon Moreno continues to lead the team in rushing yards and carries.

The winds of change hit the cornerback position this week. Sophomore Prince Miller might start opposite Asher Allen in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.  Neither Miller nor Allen were starters at the beginning of the year, but they’ve played well.  Allen had 11 tackles at Alabama, and Richt was complementary of Miller’s performance.

“Prince played extremely well in the Nickel (defense), that inside receiver position. He did extremely well there,” Richt said. “Coach (Martinez) feels like he’s earned the opportunity to play there at the boundary. I think he will still be a Nickel (back).”

It should be noted that Bryan Evans isn’t exactly 100% and hasn’t started since he hyperextended his knee against South Carolina in Week 2.  He played hurt last week, and it showed.  A healthy Evans would be right there with Miller and Allen for a starting job.  Coach Richt wouldn’t commit to Miller starting (that’s Coach Martinez’s decision), so we could still see Thomas Flowers get the nod.  It’s really that close.  As it is, expect to see all four of those cornerbacks get a lot of time on Saturday.

The talk of a strong two-deep at cornerback has a lot of people asking this week what it all means for someone like Vance Cuff (not to mention linebacker Rennie Curran).  The two true freshmen were mentioned quite a bit heading into the season, and they saw playing time right out of the gate.  They haven’t played much in SEC games, and their limited role has fans wondering if their redshirts might have been wasted.  Coach Richt spoke to that point on Wednesday:

“They’re close to getting more time. They’re practicing with the first and second units, which is good. They’re not doing any scout team work. They’re preparing to play. When they get far enough along where the coaches feel comfortable enough, they’ll play and they’ll play more than they have to this point. That’s kinda where they’re at.”

The key point is that their redshirts were burned not for immediate contribution but for depth.  They must be game-tested and able to step in at a moment’s notice because they are each a serious injury away from much more significant playing time.  As Richt said, “they’re preparing to play.”  I do expect to see more of them this year.  Considering some of the concerns with depth and fatigue late in games, we’ll need the depth of players like Curran, Cuff, and Ramarcus Brown at some point this season.

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