The toughest time of year for Georgia's football team used to occur around Halloween, when the Bulldogs annually came out on the short end of their matchup with Florida in Jacksonville.
Two straight wins over the Gators have eased that somewhat, but if only the Bulldogs could do something about spring break. Several Georgia players have fumbled away their free time in recent years, and coach Mark Richt cannot afford much disciplinary action in 2013 with a schedule that opens with Clemson and South Carolina.
Speaking before Thursday's practice, Richt said former Bulldogs left guard Steve Herndon had been brought in to talk to the team about making good choices. Richt promised to give a similar address following the workout and expected to have some company.
"I know each position coach is going to say his piece," Richt said.
Thursday's session was the third spring practice for the Bulldogs, who do not resume workouts until March 19.
Last March, cornerback Branden Smith was Florida-bound when he was arrested for marijuana possession after being pulled over near Dothan, Ala. Smith eventually had the charges dropped and did not serve a suspension after reportedly passing multiple drug tests.
Safety Bacarri Rambo successfully made it to Panama City, Fla., a year ago but then, according to his high school coach, ate brownies that he didn't know contained marijuana. Rambo failed a drug test and missed the first four games of his senior season.
Even quarterback Aaron Murray had a rough spring break a year ago, as a trip to Key West, Fla., was overshadowed by a picture of him with company in his room that made the Twitter and Facebook rounds.
Georgia's most unfortunate spring-break mishap in recent years took place in 2010, when redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger was arrested outside a bar near Valdosta, Ga. Mettenberger was suspended and then dismissed from the team, and he wound up pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.
Mettenberger, now entering his second spring as LSU's starting quarterback, is banished from setting foot in Valdosta again.
Murray is not heading home to Tampa for this spring break but is going to the University of Oklahoma, where he will work with respected quarterback mentor George Whitfield. Oklahoma is scheduled to have its pro day Wednesday, and Murray said Whitfield will work with him and Ohio State's Braxton Miller in addition to former Sooners quarterback Landry Jones.
"I've had my share of fun spring breaks," Murray told reporters earlier this week in Athens. "It's my last go-around, and I've got to make sure I'm ready to go this season and not do anything stupid, either."
Richt has been impressed so far with the conditioning of his players and believes this year's team will be smaller than a year ago but more fit and athletic. Murray likes what he's seen so far as well.
"I feel like our offense hasn't lost a beat from last season," he said.
Odds and ends
Richt announced that offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will now be operating under a three-year contract, which will pay him $575,000 annually. ... Offensive line coach Will Friend has the added title of run game coordinator, which the Bulldogs used once before under Richt with former line coach Stacy Searels. ... Third-string tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, who was arrested last month for filing a false report, is having his discipline handled internally, Richt said. ... Richt remains optimistic that backup tailback Keith Marshall (hamstring) will be available when the Bulldogs resume.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...