published Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Georgia receiver Chris Conley shines in scrimmage

Georgia receiver Chris Conley, shown here scoring an 87-yard touchdown in the Capital One Bowl, had 99 yards in Saturday's scrimmage in Athens.
Georgia receiver Chris Conley, shown here scoring an 87-yard touchdown in the Capital One Bowl, had 99 yards in Saturday's scrimmage in Athens.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Georgia receiver Chris Conley ended his sophomore season with a 136-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Capital One Bowl victory over Nebraska.

He seems to be picking up where he left off.

Conley had six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown Saturday morning as the Bulldogs scrimmaged for 90 minutes inside Sanford Stadium. The closed scrimmage was the second one this spring, and statistics were kept by the coaches.

"Chris has been very productive, and a lot of the reason why is because he works so hard every single day," coach Mark Richt said. "As a scrimmage goes on or as a game goes on, his conditioning is better than most anybody on that field. In the bowl game, when he caught that middle screen and took off, it looked like he ran a 4.2 [40-yard dash].

"When everybody else is getting a little bit fatigued, he still has the stamina to go hard because of the way he practices."

Saturday provided much more suitable conditions for the offense compared to Tuesday's opening scrimmage, when windy conditions aided in the quarterbacks combining to throw for one touchdown and six interceptions. The quarterbacks combined for four touchdowns and four pickoffs Saturday.

Starting quarterback Aaron Murray, who missed Tuesday's scrimmage, completed 13 of 21 passes for 159 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Backup Hutson Mason completed 8 of 14 for 154 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while reserves Parker Welch, Christian LeMay and early enrollee Brice Ramsey combined on 9-of-26 passing for 80 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Malcolm Mitchell caught two passes for 52 yards and a touchdown, but there were not any explosive runs for a second straight scrimmage. Keith Marshall had four carries for 25 yards, while Todd Gurley had three for 14.

"I thought the scrimmage was outstanding," Richt said. "The guys had fun today, and they competed well. We were still a little undisciplined with some extracurricular activity after a couple of plays, but I would rather our guys have a heartbeat than have to get them going. We are still turning the ball over too many times, but I was pretty pleased about today."

Richt said it was pretty evenly matched between the offense and defense right now, and he added that there was less of a discrepancy between the first- and second-team personnel than in most years.

Several newcomers had impressive numbers defensively, with linebacker Reggie Carter making five tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Cornerback Reggie Wilkerson had three tackles and an interception, while noseguard Chris Mayes had three tackles and a tackle for loss.

"We probably have more team speed on defense," Richt said when asked to compare this bunch with last year's unit.

Sophomore cornerback Sheldon Dawson had three tackles and an interception before suffering a hamstring pull that could sideline him for the rest of spring practice.

Richt said sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons has assumed the first-team spot at strong safety and that 335-pound redshirt freshman John Taylor is working at end as Mike Thornton and Mayes occupy the top two spots at noseguard.

Odds and ends

Redshirt freshman quarterback Faton Bauta has not participated in the first two scrimmages due to biceps tendinitis. ... Senior guard Austin Long underwent surgery Friday after fracturing his right hand during Thursday's practice, and he will miss the rest of spring. ... Richt has been impressed with the development this spring of sophomore fullback Quayvon Hicks. ... The Bulldogs will hold their next practice Tuesday.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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