Georgia photoGeorgia tailback Brian Herrien, shown here as a freshman last year against Tennessee, was singled out Saturday by coach Kirby Smart for a solid showing in the first spring scrimmage.

Georgia conducted its first spring scrimmage Saturday afternoon in Sanford Stadium, and it consisted of about 130 plays, Bulldogs second-year coach Kirby Smart said.

Smart has been critical of his defense after recent practices, and the latest two-hour workout provided more of the same.

"We didn't tackle well as a defense," Smart said in a news conference. "Does that mean that we've got really good skill guys who are hard to tackle? There's probably something to that, but we've got to improve our tackling. We also didn't seem to get many turnovers.

"I think there was one fumble and one or maybe two interceptions. If you have 130 or 140 snaps and only get three turnovers, it's never acceptable."

Saturday's practice was closed to the media, and Smart did not provide any statistics. He did say that senior safety Dominick Sanders suffered a slight MCL sprain and that redshirt freshman right guard Solomon Kindley sprained his ankle. Aulden Bynum replaced Kindley following his injury.

"We had to mix and mingle because we had a rotation where Solomon was going to be with the ones about 70 or 80 percent of the scrimmage," Smart said, "but he was going to be with the twos some. When he went down, everyone bumped up one."

Receivers Jayson Stanley (concussion) and Riley Ridley (foot) did not scrimmage, which resulted in sophomore Mecole Hardman playing receiver full-time.

When asked to single out a performance, Smart picked sophomore tailback Brian Herrien, who rushed 63 times for 363 yards (5.8 yards per carry) last season.

"Brian Herrien was a guy that we were going to get the ball to and find out what he could do in scrimmage situations, and he did pretty well," Smart said. "He ran the ball really hard and had a couple of long, explosive runs. He's a tough, competitive guy, and if I had to say that somebody stood out, I would say that he did."

Smart said quarterbacks Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm performed well and continue to get more comfortable throwing the ball and that Eason needs to continue to develop in protections. He added that having receivers who could win one-on-one situations would make Eason's life easier.

Georgia will practice all spring without top defensive tackle Trenton Thompson and leading tackler Roquan Smith, and the Bulldogs continue to struggle in Smart's eyes as a result.

"There were a lot of 4- and 5-yard runs, which really bothers me as a head coach," he said. "It concerns me that we're not able to stop the run at times when we've got a loaded box."

Transfer shines

Redshirt sophomore safety J.R. Reed, a 6-foot-1, 194-pounder from Frisco, Texas, who sat out last season after transferring from Tulsa, has impressed Smart this spring.

"He's flashing speed, athleticism and toughness," Smart said, "and I'm tough on him. I'm out there every day challenging this guy, because I think he can be a really good player. He's fast, he's physical and he's smart.

"He just hasn't played in this system."

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