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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Practice Notes (10/16)

After another long week of practice with his injured hip throbbing, offensive lineman Chris Davis managed to get in a few laughs at his own expense with head coach Mark Richt.

Richt said the two joked about how far Davis has come in his two seasons at Georgia. This year, he's battling a painful injury. Last year, Richt said, that might not have happened.

"He was not a real tough guy on the front end of this thing, and he knows it," Richt said. "He said, Coach (Stacy) Searels got it out of me' or whatever."

Luckily for the Bulldogs, Davis' attitude has changed and he has been one of the few constants on Georgia's offensive line so far. With Vince Vance out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, Davis is now the only Bulldogs lineman to start every game.

"It's been very difficult but he's toughing it out, there's no doubt about it," Richt said. "He's really of all of our linemen is doing the best job of leading right now."

-- Defensive end Rod Battle was supposed to be a key cog in Georgia's pass rush this season, but a neck injury he suffered against Central Michigan has relegated him to the sideline for much of the year.

Battle returned to action for the first time since suffering the injury last week and saw a moderate amount of playing time against Tennessee. Richt said he expects that role to continue to grow and hopes Battle can provide a nice second-half spark for the Bulldogs.

"He's a proven player, and he was a projected starter, and he's more fresh than anybody else this time of year," Richt said. "So I think he's going to give us a boost because he'll probably have a little more juice than most guys this time of year."

-- After a three-week hiatus from the offensive line, Kiante Tripp is back to where he started fall camp right tackle.

Tripp was moved from the right side to left tackle early in camp when Trinton Sturdivant injured his knee, started the first three games of the season, then lost his job. Two weeks later, he was moved to tight end after series of injuries decimated Georgia's depth at that position, but Richt said Tripp remained a capable lineman.

"He had his moments," Richt said. "He had some times where he played really well, and like all of them, he had some times where he did perform as well as you'd like. But the tight end thing, it got to more than a crucial time."

With left tackle Vince Vance going down with a knee injury, and tight end Bruce Figgins playing though a shoulder injury, Tripp became more valuable on the line, so he moved back to where he started for practice this week. Richt isn't sure if that's a permanent move, but for now, that's where he's planning for Tripp to stay.

"I couldn't say that for certain because I don't know what the future holds," Richt said, "but that dynamic is a lot different than it was right after the Alabama game."

-- Georgia's defensive ends have battled injuries since the start of fall camp, but none have been set back quite as far as redshirt freshman Neland Ball. The 6-foot-6 end from Jackson battled hamstring issues early in the season, and Richt said he hasn't fully recovered from the setback.

"He's still trying to get to where he can break into more playing time," Richt said. "Any time you get hurt and miss reps, it sets you back. If he'd have been healthy all the way through, he'd probably be playing more right now."

-- Richt was asked by a reporter for Georgia's student television station if he had any pregame superstitions, and he had trouble coming up with anything too interesting. Back in high school, however, he said he had one habit he thought brought his team luck.

Here's the story:

"Back when I was in high school, I used to eat a ham-and-cheese sub from Jerry's Pizzeria. I had to do that. One time I sent my nose guard to go get the subs, and he got me an Italian instead of a ham and cheese and we lost 22-21. It looked like we were going to be out of the playoffs, and somehow we got back in the playoffs, and we stayed undefeated until we went to play Gainesville High. My dad brought my ham-and-cheese sub in a cooler, and when we got there, the ice had melted and it was like soggy, soaking wet. I still ate it, and we barely won. It was very close."

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