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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Practice Notes (11/11)

He had casts on both hands and he weighs nearly 270 pounds, but defensive end Demarcus Dobbs showed he had all the athleticism of his slimmer cohorts in the Georgia secondary when he intercepted his second pass of the season Saturday against Kentucky.

"I was thinking he must have caught it with the good hand, and then I looked at him and he had a cast on both hands," head coach Mark Richt said. "I think we might have to move him to tight end now."

Dobbs said he's not looking for a change, but if the offer is there, he'll be happy to try his hand at offense. After all, he said, he thinks he has the best hands on the team.

"I told Coach Richt that I'm up for any challenge," Dobbs said. "If he wants to put me in at tight end, I'll do the best I can."

With 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks in limited action on the defensive line, Georgia's coaches are probably happy leaving Dobbs where he is. That, however, doesn't mean he's done hauling in passes. In fact, Dobbs said he has already informed teammate Reshad Jones that he's gunning for the team lead in interceptions.

"Reshad already knows that," Dobbs said. "He knows the heat is on. He knew the heat was on when I got my first one. I told everybody I was going to get another one, but nobody believed me."

-- Georgia's postseason prospects still remain a mystery, but wins in their final two games would likely send the Bulldogs to either the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. against a Big Ten team or the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against a foe from the Big 12.

Either trip would be fine, quarterback Matthew Stafford said, but for different reasons.

With a few breaks, Georgia could face Ohio State in the Capital One Bowl, and Stafford sees that as a big-time matchup against a team that lost to SEC foes in the national championship game the past two years.

"I think that'd be cool," Stafford said. "It would be getting them up against another SEC team and a chance for them to kind of redeem themselves for what's happened the past couple years."

Of course, a trip to the Cotton Bowl would be a homecoming for Stafford, who grew up near Dallas.

"Obviously I'd like to play at home in front of some of my friends and family in Dallas," Stafford said. "I'd probably need to get about 50 tickets for that game which would be tough. But it'd be fun. I could advice Coach Richt on some good restaurants to go to."

-- This week marks a special anniversary for head coach Mark Richt.

It was two years ago at Auburn that he last called plays for the Georgia offense. A week later, he handed off the play-calling duties to Mike Bobo, who has handled the job full-time ever since.

"There's times I do miss it, and there's times I'm glad I'm not messing with it," Richt said.

While he isn't mapping out the game plan each week, Richt said he still has a say in what plays are run. Even when he was the primary play caller, he took ideas from the rest of the staff. Now he still submits his ideas, he said. It's just someone else narrowing them down to a final game plan.

"My ideas that I think will be successful, I do turn it over to the staff, and Coach Bobo and the staff decide what to use," Richt said. "Now it's just Mike's job to hone it down."

-- Tavarres King knew his ankle didn't feel right when he took the field against Arizona State seven weeks ago, but he wanted to play anyway. As it turned out, he ended up hauling in the longest reception of his career to date a 41-yard bomb down the sideline from quarterback Matthew Stafford.

A few plays later, however, King aggravated the ankle injury that had been bothering him since fall camp, and his season was over.

King hasn't seen action since the injury, and he said Tuesday the team planned to apply for a medical redshirt for him for the season.

"My ankle has just been bothering me ever since I hurt it the first time," King said. "I don't think I was 100 percent when I came back Arizona State game, and it's been bothering me ever since. It's getting better, but we're shooting for a medical redshirt."

King first injured the ankle running a route during fall camp and tried to play through the injury. During a blocking play against Arizona State, however, he rolled the ankle and the injury worsened significantly. He said doctors don't anticipate he will need surgery.

"I'm hoping that I can just rehab it," King said. "They told me a bunch of rehab and just working out, I'll probably be good to be 100 percent in no time."

-- Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said his knee is finally feeling good again after a nearly two-month-long recovery.

Ellerbe returned to action against Florida after missing three games, but saw limited playing time. He made his first start since Sept. 27 at the Mike linebacker position last week against Kentucky, but his injury flared up again.

"Kentucky, I felt like I was going to stay in there until coach felt like I needed a break," Ellerbe said. "Unfortunately I tweaked my knee a little bit, so they had to put (Darryl Gamble) in there."

Ellerbe said this week's practices have been good, and Tuesday was the best he has had since the injury.

"This is as close to 100 percent as I've been since I've been hurt," Ellerbe said. "I felt great today."

Now that he's back on track health-wise, Ellerbe said he expects to return to being the full-time starter at middle linebacker, too.

"It's my position," Ellerbe said. "I feel like I'm starting."

Gamble has played well in Ellerbe's absence, including returning two interceptions for touchdowns against LSU.

Ellerbe said he has tried to be a role model to Gamble during the injury, but he's anxious to reclaim his role as a defensive leader in Georgia's final three games.

"(Being injured) killed me because it's your senior season," Ellerbe said. "It's over after this. There isn't any way to turn back or waive a magic wand and start over from Alabama and avoid getting hurt. Sometimes life throws you some dice, and it's a matter of how they fall."

-- Redshirt freshman Caleb King seemed to have cemented his role as the No. 2 tailback on the depth chart just three weeks ago, but a missed block at a key point against Florida landed him a full-time role on the bench in last week's Kentucky game.

Starter Knowshon Moreno missed just five offensive snaps in the game, but each of those were handled by freshman Richard Samuel. King only saw work on special teams.

"In this particular game, Richard was in the rotation and Caleb wasn't," running backs coach Tony Ball said. "That's just something that each week they know. You've got to compete."

Part of that competition includes making those key blocks, and King's failure to do so was one of but not the only reasons he was benched.

"That was part of it, but there was some other things that facilitated the move, and he's just got to bounce back," Ball said of King. "Plus the fact that Richard has been showing some energy, and he knows what to do. It's competitive, and that makes us better."

Ball said Samuel has shown an impressive ability to master the playbook and understand his role, which has helped move him into a more significant role with the offense.

"Richard is a student of the game," Ball said. "He wants to understand concepts. You don't fragment with Richard. If you teach him the concept of something, he's got it. Now if you start to ask him variations to it, it makes sense to him."

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