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Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Practice Notes (11/24)

Rennie Curran watches every Georgia Tech game he can to see his good friend Jonathan Dwyer run the football.

Both players grew up outside Atlanta, and Curran said Dwyer's skills rival anyone in the SEC including his teammate, Knowshon Moreno.

"He does some impressive things," Curran said. "He's a power runner, and he can run you over or juke you out just like Knowshon can."

Dwyer has racked up 1,184 yards rushing this season just 60 fewer than Moreno and has topped 100 yards in all but three games this season.

"The stats don't lie," Curran said. "He's put up big numbers, and he's as likely to do it against us as any team. I think he'd be fine in the SEC."

Dwyer will present a significant challenge for the Bulldogs' defense, which has struggled to slow opposing running games during its past four games.

The key to stopping the Georgia Tech sophomore, head coach Mark Richt said, is to stop him early. Once Dwyer finds himself in space, he becomes a tough target to tackle.

"We have to get to him before he gets started because he is an agile tackle-breaker with good speed," Richt said. "(Dwyer) looks every bit of 228 pounds, and he carries it well. For him, if you don't get him at the line of scrimmage, it's going to be tough to get him down."

-- Moreno was named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award on Monday along with Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Iowa's Shonn Greene.

Moreno leads the SEC in rushing through 11 games, averaging 113 yards per game and has 16 touchdowns. Earlier this season he became only the second running back in school history to top 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

"It's an honor just to be named for that award," Moreno said. "Those other backs are great backs who are definitely capable of winning."

Making the honor more impressive is the parts surrounding Moreno. Georgia's offensive line has been decimated by injuries this season, but Moreno said his teammates have done the dirty work that has helped him find success.

"That's what it comes down to," Moreno said. "As an offense, that's why it's such an honor. It's nice to have that much rushing and be up for those awards, but at the same time, everybody's doing their job just to get (me) there."

Moreno would be just the second Georgia running back to win the Doak Walker Award, joining Garrison Hearst, who won the trophy in 1992. The winner will be announced Dec. 11.

-- When defensive tackle Jeff Owens went down with a season-ending injury in the Bulldogs' opening game of the season, his backup, Kade Weston, figured to step into a much larger role. Thanks to lingering injuries of his own, however, Weston's season has been far from productive.

Weston underwent surgery just days before Owens' injury, and while he has played through the pain all year, he has never been able to play at full speed.

"Coming off the surgery, that was really the hard part because it still wasn't 100 percent," Weston said. "I'm trying to come out there and help the guys as much as I can."

Weston said his teammates have been supportive, but he admits his 12 tackles this season make for a disappointing tally considering the role he had hoped to play.

"I'm not satisfied," Weston said. "I could have done a lot better. But I can't expect to do too much with a bad knee. You can only do as much as the knee will allow you."

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