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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday Practice Notes (12/4)

Linebacker Rennie Curran said he will be watching the SEC championship game on Saturday, but it won't be easy for him to sit through. Watching Florida and Alabama two of the three teams Georgia lost to this season play for a berth in the national championship game simply serves as a reminder of how different this season could have unfolded for the Bulldogs.

"It's probably going to be hard to watch knowing we could have been there, but we missed out on it," Curran said. "But just watching it will encourage me to work harder to be able to help my guys and hopefully we'll be there next year."

Having gotten an up-close-and-personal view of both teams this season, Curran is also uniquely qualified to predict a winner, but he's not ready to go out on a limb for that. All he will say is that beating Florida won't be an easy task for the Crimson Tide.

"I think if Bama wants to win, they have to pretty much play flawless and not make any mistakes," Curran said. "That's what killed us. Florida has so many homerun hitters that can kill you if you make a mistake. But I think if Bama plays tough and doesn't make any mistakes, they can do it.

-- Georgia's two biggest needs in this year's recruiting class look to be wide receiver and defensive end, but it may be the work of a trio of linemen that helps fill that void, head coach Mark Richt said.

Prior to landing offensive lineman Vince Vance and defensive linemen Corvey Irvin and Jarius Wynn from Georgia Military College, Georgia shied away from recruiting junior college players. The three transfers, however, have proved so successful, that Richt is hoping to land another group of stars this year.

"After our experience with Jarius, Corvey and Vince Vance, that was a very positive experience with those guys," Richt said. "We went there as kind of a desperation situation, and not to say that we're going to spend the rest of our lives there, but there are some very quality players and quality people, and we found three of them."

According to, Georgia is recruiting three junior-college players this season: wide receivers Cameron Kenney from Garden City (Kansas) Community College and Leon Berry from East Mississippi Community College, along with junior college All-American defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.

Richt said the recruiting doesn't mean a complete change in Georgia's philosophy, but the Bulldogs will continue to go after the players he thinks fit the program's philosophy.

"It's not to say we're going to make a wholesale move in that direction," Richt said, "but if there's a special player out there, we'll keep doing that."

-- One other position Richt said he might look to the junior college ranks for is kicker. He joked after the Georgia Tech loss that he would be willing to go to Poland to find a kicker who could boot the ball through the end zone on kickoffs, but he said Thursday it might be easier to stay closer to home.

"If there's a JC kicker out there who can boom it if he's in high school, prep school, if he's in Poland and wants an American education," Richt said, "if I knew that he could literally knock it out of the end zone, I'd scholarship him."

Asked if he might consider a tryout among the Georgia student body for a good kicker as teams like Texas Tech and Boston College have done in recent years, Richt said he might consider it.

"I think we have some club soccer here," he said. "There might be a guy who can just knock it."

-- Tight end Bruce Figgins will meet with doctors this week to set a date for surgery on his injured shoulder. Figgins hurt his shoulder in September, but has played through the injury due to a rash of injuries among the rest of the tight end corps.

"It hasn't given me any trouble, hasn't slowed me down," Figgins said. "I'm glad I've been able to play the games I have this year, and I'm glad I'm going to be able to play in this bowl game."

-- Richt said Thursday that sophomore linebacker Darryl Gamble would not be available to play in Georgia's bowl game after suffering a broken leg against Georgia Tech.

Gamble said a defender rolled onto his leg during the third quarter causing the injury, which will not require surgery. While he is hopeful for a quick recovery, he said trying to play in the bowl game would be an unnecessary risk.

"It's an injury that I've got to take day-by-day," Gamble said. "I'm not going to go out there and jeopardize myself if I'm not ready to play."

Curran said Gamble has kept a good disposition following the injury, despite having a breakout season end on a sour note. Gamble filled in for senior Dannell Ellerbe for three games this season and posted impressive numbers, including a two-interception performance against LSU.

"He's definitely had some ups and downs," Curran said of Gamble, "but he's staying positive through everything because that's the type of dude he is. I'm sure he'll bounce back."

-- Wide receiver Kris Durham had surgery last week on a broken left hand but said he expects to be ready to play in Georgia's bowl game.

The injury happened during Tuesday's practice prior to the Tech game. Durham dove for a ball and the defender stepped on his hand while he was on the ground.

"I stayed in during practice and caught a pass from Matthew (Stafford), and that's when I knew I had pretty much messed it up," Durham said.

Durham said he had to have nine screws and a plate put into his hand to repair the injury, which he said may have been exacerbated by the sharp throw from Stafford. He said the surgery should make his hand stronger now, but he isn't making any guarantees about catching passes from his rocket-armed quarterback.

"It's bomb proof," Durham said. "I don't know if it's Stafford proof, but it's bomb proof."

-- Corvey Irvin said he hopes a win in this year's bowl game can propel Georgia into a lofty preseason ranking next year, but said the No. 1 ranking the Bulldogs began this season with had little impact on how their year turned out.

"That don't have nothing to do with it," Irvin said. "It's preseason. It's all about how you finish. Being preseason No. 1 didn't mess up our season. We had a lot of hype, but I don't think a lot of guys bought into the hype that we had. The games that we lost, all of us weren't on the same page."

-- Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America team Thursday. Moreno leads the SEC in rushing and became only the second Georgia player in history to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

-- Take this for what you will, but three players mentioned playing in the Capital One Bowl as if it had already been decided. That could mean that they already know where they're headed but nothing has been officially announced or it could mean they'll be mighty disappointed if they end up in Tampa or Dallas.

-- One other note that you can choose whether or not to read between the lines on: Corvey Irvin twice mentioned the players that will anchor next year's defense, and both times, he included the name of Asher Allen.

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