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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Practice Notes (11/6)

Just when it seemed like Caleb King had locked down the No. 2 spot on Georgia's depth chart at running back, freshman Richard Samuel is once again pushing him for playing time.

King badly missed a block on pass protection in the red zone against Florida last week leading to a sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford. The once-promising drive ended two plays later with a missed field goal.

"Pass pro was an issue, no doubt," head coach Mark Richt said. "The other part is we've seen a lot of energy out of Richard on kickoff return. He has not been redshirted, and he hasn't played a lot, so we want to see what he can do."

Richt said Samuel hasn't been perfect on pass protection either and is still learning the offense, but coaches feel he deserves a shot in game action to show how far along he is.

"Which guy will play first or play the most, I couldn't tell you, where before I could have predicted it would have been Caleb. It's a much tighter race, I'll tell you that," Richt said. "Don't be surprised to see Richard get a snap before Caleb, but I don't think it's etched in stone right now."

-- Defensive back Bryan Evans moved from corner to safety during practice last month, and Richt said he has taken quickly to the position.

"He likes to be able to see everything in front of him," Richt said. "That may end up being his best deal. He's physical, smart, he's fast. It may be really good for him, and it's good for us because you create instant depth when a guy can play both."

Meanwhile Ramarcus Brown got the start as Georgia's nickelback last week over Vance Cuff, but Richt said that wasn't a sign of a major shift in playing time for either corner.

"Those guys are all playing," Richt said. "If you're at a position like quarterback where he's the starter and the other guy isn't playing, that's significant to me. But when they're both playing a lot and they're both playing good, it doesn't really matter to me who starts."

-- Following a two-game suspension for an arrest on driving under the influence charges, defensive tackle Brandon Wood will return to action Saturday against Kentucky.

"Brandon will travel, and Brandon will play," Richt said.

Wood, a third-year sophomore from Buchanan, handled the suspension well, Richt said.

"When you talk to these young men about the things that happen, just that initial sit down gives you a pretty good feeling on what kind of guy you're dealing with, and Brandon absolutely made no excuses whatsoever," Richt said.

Wood worked with Georgia's scout team to help his teammates prepare the past two weeks while he was sidelined, but he told Richt the absence from game action wasn't the hardest part of the experience.

"He was crushed that he had to call his mother and tell her," Richt said. "He said that was by far the worst thing that happened to him."

-- Defensive end Jeremy Lomax, who suffered a shoulder bruise last week against Florida, is scheduled to travel with the team to Kentucky, and Richt said he expected the senior to play.

Linebacker Darius Dewberry, who left the Florida game with a hip-flexor injury, won't make the trip.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has recovered quickly from an elbow and ankle injury, Richt said, and he will be 100 percent for this week's game.

The elbow injury happened midway through the Florida game last week, but Richt said his quarterback didn't inform coaches until after the game ended.

"It took a shot during the game, and he couldn't feel it for a while," Richt said. "We knew something was going on, but he wouldn't quite say. Now when we came back, he said he couldn't feel it for a while, but he didn't want to come out of the game."

-- Defensive tackle Jeff Owens tore his ACL on his first series of the season, but he made it even further than left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp. Now the two are pushing each other in their rehab efforts.

"Trinton's a couple weeks ahead of me in the process, and I'm just trying to compete with him," Owens said. "He might do a new exercise, and I'm like, Can I try that?' I'm just trying to get where he's at. He's ahead of me, so I'm trying to push it to keep up."

Once the knee is healed, Owens has a tough decision ahead of him, too. Because the injury happened early, he can accept a medical redshirt and return to school next year.

Before this season, however, he was already projected as a potential first-day pick in the NFL draft, and he hasn't ruled out going pro at year's end, despite the injury.

"I've thought about it, but not that much thought," Owens said. "I'm just trying to get all the information I can from everyone, try to find out where will I go if I did decide to go. I know if I come back, I'll be projected high. It's a tough decision, and it's not one I really have to make now. My main focus is on my knee, which is a big part in my decision. You can't go nowhere if my knee's not alright.

"I definitely want to get my senior year back. It's tough, but it's life. You're going to have your ups and your downs. I'm just taking it one day at a time, and trying to look at the big picture. I love college football, and I've noticed a lot of people say college football isn't like pro football. People prefer college over pro, and I enjoy playing college football. I love to be here at Georgia. I love this institution, and I'm just happy Coach Richt and the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to play here. I know that my main focus, my main goal of coming to Georgia was to win a national championship, and that's what I want to do. I had a lot of goals coming into the season, and that was my main one. Try to be a senior leader, try to be a defensive captain, and now all that is impossible. I can just watch my guys play. I love college, I think about some pros of coming back. I get my degree. That's one thing that's important to me. Play with most of the guys I came in with. Most of those guys redshirted, so I'll be a fifth-year senior, so who knows? Right now I'm just focusing on my knee, just trying to get it strong and see what happens."


Anonymous said...

So what does it mean that Clemson, Tennessee and, most probably, Auburn will be replacing their headcoaches this offseason? Well, since Florida/Alabama can only take so many kids...Georgia stands to pick up steam recruiting, or rather cherry picking the state. Richt's longevity could be this program's greatest asset. Hardware is coming Dawg fans!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Owens will return. Stafford probably as well. Now if they can just talk Moreno into joining them for what will be the best team UGA has fielded since 1980!

Anonymous said...

(fingers crossed)

Anonymous said...

David, do you know why Brannan Southerland did not play much in the Florida game? Chapas seemed to be struggling quite a bit, so I wonder why Southerland didn't get more snaps.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. Instead of deciding which reserve TB won't be able to block in the redzone, why not just keep Knowshon in the game?