Mecole Hardman has dropped passes in five of Georgia's six games, but head coach Kirby Smart isn’t about to give up on the former Elbert County star.
Quite the contrary.
“He knows he’s got to catch the ball. We’re going to continue to throw it to him. We’re not going to not throw it to him,” Smart said after practice Tuesday. “I think Mecole’s a work in progress. He’s getting better each week.”
Hardman has seven receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown for the Bulldogs, but Smart reminded reporters the sophomore was only moved to wide receiver in the spring after never playing the position in high school.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy. It’s not natural for a guy that didn’t play receiver his whole life to go play receiver,” Smart said. “I know some of you guys in this room compare it to Terry Godwin. That’s not true. Terry Godwin played receiver. I recruited him. Mecole did not. It makes it very different for him.”
So, what’s the problem?
“It’s running routes. It’s being comfortable catching the ball. It’s 10 to 15 years of that’s not what he did his whole life. He’s developing, he’s working hard at it. I think the guy’s going to make a really good player. To be honest with you, we’ve thrown to him in the last couple of weeks in practice,” Smart said. “It’s not like he’s got the drops. He just hasn’t had the opportunity. He hasn’t really had an opportunity in a game in a while.”
Neither player was seen during practice on Tuesday, and Georgia’s head coach didn’t offer much insight when asked about the pair.
"Not really. Just hoping to get them back,” Smart said. “They were able to do a little bit today. But hopefully we'll get them back."
• Smart on Andrew Thomas: “He’s a freshman out there playing in what I think is the toughest conference in the country. He’s holding up. He’s holding his own. We haven’t put him in a lot of really tough positions. We try to avoid that. Whether we cover him up (with a tight end) or being able to run the ball helps with that. He’s mature beyond his years. He’s very understanding of how important practice is which allows him to play well.”
• Smart on wide receivers buying into perimeter blocking: “I think they do a great job. I think they’re doing a much-improved job this year as opposed to last year of understanding the importance of team -- understanding the importance of team goals and team success. I think that a lot of that is our off-season program, our mind-set training program from the summer -- to put the team above yourself. I think that’s just important to winning. It’s not the number of catches, it’s the value you get in team goals.”
• Smart on Mark Webb at defensive back: “He’s growing. He’s getting better. He goes out there every day and competes against the wideouts. He does a really good job. I think he’s going to be a really fine player.”
• Smart on sophomore defensive tackle Tyler Clark: “He’s doing a good job. He didn’t play his best game. He got a little sick a couple of days before the Vanderbilt game. He didn’t have his best game. I thought he played really well against Tennessee. I thought he played really well against Mississippi State. He didn’t have his best game, but he’s a player who is improving a lot. He’s gotten a lot better from last year to this year.”
This and that
Georgia practiced for approximately two hours on Tuesday, with half of the practice spent inside the team’s indoor athletic facility, and the second half outside.
“We had a good practice today. It was little warm out there. We went outside at the halfway point, had both units go outside, it was about 92, 93 degrees. So unseasonably warm but I thought the guys had good spirits. We did three or four periods against each other, had good competition. I think both groups continue to improve. We’ve got a difficult task this week in the offense we’ve got to defend and also some of the unique things about their defense.”