published Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Cornerback shows offensive skill

ATHENS, Ga. — Incoming touted tailback Isaiah Crowell will wear jersey No. 1 this fall for the Georgia Bulldogs, but Georgia’s current No. 1 proved Saturday that he’s still a viable offensive threat.

Branden Smith, the junior cornerback from Atlanta, had two receptions for 38 yards and two carries for 11 yards for the Black team in its 18-11 victory at G-Day. Three minutes into the third quarter, he scored the game’s first touchdown when he took a quick screen from Aaron Murray, stiff-armed fellow corner Derek Owens and raced 28 yards down the sideline.

“This was my first time to play offense all spring, and it felt good to help the team win,” Smith said.

Crowell and Smith each will wear No. 1 this season but under NCAA rules cannot be on the field at the same time.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Smith comes to him each week saying, “When are you going to get me on offense? You’ve forgotten about me. You don’t love me anymore.”

So Bobo, who coached the Black team, made a deal last Tuesday that if Smith came up with an interception Tuesday or Thursday in practice, he would get multiple offensive touches.

Bobo said Smith had two interceptions each day.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder had a 61-yard reverse for a touchdown in 2009 against South Carolina and added a 52-yard scoring run later that season against Tennessee Tech. He had 17 carries for 208 yards as a freshman but only six carries for 46 yards last season.

“If he’s going to play 70 or 75 snaps on defense, it’s hard to get him on offense, but this is his third year,” Bobo said. “It’s kind of like what we did with Champ [Bailey], where we just gave him a little bit more each year, and he was able to play more plays. I remember with Coach [Jim] Donnan, the last five or six games Champ played he was playing 100 snaps a game.

“I just wish we could have Branden full time.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said “there ain’t no fight” when asked if he expected a battle for Smith’s talents later this year.

“He’s an explosive guy,” Grantham said. “You saw it today. He took a hitch and went the distance. It wasn’t even a vertical route.”

Assuming much

Before the game, Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan appeared on the Sanford Stadium video board to point out that the Sept. 3 game between Georgia and Boise State was only 139 days away. In his message, Stokan said “Mark Richt and the Top 25 Georgia Bulldogs,” which is assuming a lot after the Bulldogs went 6-7 last season and no longer have receiver A.J. Green and outside linebacker Justin Houston.

Georgia was No. 23 in last year’s Associated Press preseason poll after an 8-5 finish in 2009.

Odds and ends

Redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Chase Vasser had seven tackles and a fumble recovery for the Black, while sophomore inside linebacker Alec Ogletree led the Red with seven stops. ... Senior tailback Caleb King after G-Day: “I always say that if I leave spring with no injuries, that’s a plus.” ... Connor Norman, a redshirt freshman walk-on safety from Duluth, had five tackles, three pass deflections and an interception.

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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