published Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Georgia centers having trouble with nose men

  • photo
    Chris Burnette has been one of four Georgia Bulldogs who have practiced this spring at center, where they've found the going tough against noseguards Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins.
    University of Georgia photo

Georgia football coach Mark Richt said last weekend that the biggest mismatch this spring has been the center position trying to fend off the imposing nose-tackle tandem of Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins.

Chris Burnette, a returning starter at guard who has practiced some at center, validated Richt's assessment following Tuesday's practice. The Bulldogs have worked Burnette, David Andrews, Kolton Houston and Dallas Lee at center in recent weeks, and they have taken turns taking their lumps.

"Those guys are the best we're going to face all season, and I feel like that's a great blessing," Burnette said. "They are some of the best in the country, and it's not going to do anything except get us better. They are top-tier players, and I can assure you they are not making us worse."

Burnette estimates he has practiced 30 to 40 percent of the time at center this spring and 60 to 70 percent at right guard, where he started last year. He expects sophomore David Andrews to be the starting center Sept. 1, when the Bulldogs open at home against Buffalo.

Lee made five starts at left guard last season before breaking his leg against Florida, and Houston most recently has worked as the first-team right tackle opposite top left tackle Kenarious Gates.

"When you look at us during the first week and then look at us today, I think we're a lot better," Burnette said. "We've improved our technique and communication, and the way we play together now compared to the start of spring is night and day."

The Bulldogs practiced in full pads for two hours Tuesday. They will work out again Thursday and Friday before competing Saturday in the G-Day game.

"We had a good fundamental day," Richt said. "It was solid across the board. There will be one more fundamental day, but it will be relatively short."

Burnette insists he has held his own when playing center this spring, though he can't help but marvel at the speed and athletic ability displayed by Geathers and Jenkins. Geathers is listed at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds and Jenkins at 6-3 and 351, but Burnette considers each of them "360-plus."

At 6-2 and 313 pounds, Burnette is diminutive by comparison.

"There was one point before last season in camp when I did a cut block and wound up underneath John," Burnette said. "He fell on my back, and I felt all my ribs pop. It felt bad. I cannot lie."

Odds and ends

Sophomore cornerback and receiver Malcolm Mitchell did not practice Tuesday because of a hamstring injury and is considered questionable for G-Day. ... Sophomore safety Marc Deas, who announced March 31 that he was transferring, instead is remaining on the team and practiced Tuesday.

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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