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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Practice Notes: King sidelined with hamstring injury

The story coming out of Georgia’s first fall scrimmage Wednesday was supposed to be the first real semblance of a depth chart at running back.

But with Thursday’s news, it only got more complicated — with only 23 days left until the Bulldogs kick off against Oklahoma State, redshirt sophomore Caleb King will miss time with a hamstring injury.

“Hamstrings are difficult to predict, but they’re usually seven to 10 days,” said head coach Mark Richt. “It just depends on how bad it is.”

King, Georgia’s No. 1 tailback, at least on paper, did not practice Thursday. He and Richard Samuel had been sharing duties with the No. 1 squad all fall, with King getting the snaps in spring camp while Samuel sat out following wrist surgery.

Now the roles have been reversed.

“Obviously Richard’s going to work No. 1 right now,” Richt said. “It’s hard to compete if you’re not out there.

“Luckily Caleb’s been here long enough where he knows what to do. If he was a true freshman it would hurt him a lot. There’s a lot of time out there still, and there’s a lot of season too. So there will be plenty of time for Caleb.”

King was not available for comment following Thursday’s practice, and Richt wasn’t getting into too many details. But with Samuel’s big performance in Wednesday’s scrimmage (five carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a 70-yard reception for a score) compared to King’s (five carries for 18 yards), Samuel may have the upper leg. For now.

“It’s really just an opportunity for somebody else,” said quarterback Joe Cox. “Caleb had been having a good camp. We’re definitely disappointed that he got hurt. But somebody else has to step up. It’s the same at every position. We’ve been pleased with everybody that’s been in, and that’s really all there is about that.”

The shoe is on the other foot for Samuel. But he’s not necessarily viewing it that way.

“I really don’t think anything,” he said. “He’s hurt, we’re going to still compete and we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. Just keep on moving.”


The injury news continued to roll in Thursday, and the bug continued to bite safety Quintin Banks.

“He hurt his knee. He’ll have to get [the cartilage] cleaned up, probably three weeks for that,” Richt said. “It shouldn’t cost him the season, and it may or may not cost him the first game.”

Banks tore the MCL in his left knee during preseason workouts last year before finally playing against Tennessee. He tore his PCL in the same knee the next week.

This time around, it was the right knee.

With senior Reshad Jones out for the near future with a hamstring injury, redshirt freshman Bacarri Rambo is now the No. 1 guy. Walk-on Josh Murray is also out with a minor shoulder injury, so Richt anticipates Makiri Pugh, another redshirt freshman, to split time between his usual position in the nickel spot and Banks’ void at strong safety.

“Makiri certainly has the ability to do both,” Richt said.


As if the injuries weren’t bad enough for the Bulldogs Thursday, add this to the mix — a far from stellar practice.

“I would say my overriding feeling from that practice is that the practice beat us. We didn’t win the day today,” Richt said. “We made way too many mistakes. They were hot, they were tired and I thought they gave into that more so than any day in the camp. I didn’t think they had given into it until today, actually.”

Richt had given mostly overwhelming praises both through the spring and thus far this fall. But, whatever the reason, the day before its third two-a-day practice of camp, Georgia didn’t have it Thursday.

“We just looked sloppy on a lot of things,” Cox said. “We had a lot of guys on both sides of the ball that had penalties, and missed assignments. And every now and then it happens. Everybody’s going to have one day where everybody’s mind kind of goes off somewhere else and people start messing up. But we did our running for it, and we all talked about it and know that it can’t be that way.”

Cox merely said they did “plenty” of running, and the offensive line was pushing sleds well after the rest of the team was off the field. Tomorrow, they’ll look to regain the discipline they say they’ve had all fall.

“A lot of times so many people are worried about what they have to do on the play that they’re not thinking about the little things like staying in there on a hard count or taking the proper steps,” Cox said. “It’s just one of those things where you have a lack of focus. So it’s something we have to do as leaders, just staying on everybody, making sure we concentrate on the little things, and pay attention to detail.”


Freshman defensive lineman Kwame Geathers got his first taste of serious action during Wednesday’s scrimmage, but coach Rodney Garner said Geathers is hardly ready to play under game conditions.

“There’s conditioning we’ve got to get done with him, but the kid has some talent,” Garner said of Geathers, who arrived to fall camp three days late due to complications with his NCAA academic qualifications. “We’ve just got to get him in shape. It’s hard to run on your own, and you’re kidding yourself if you say it’s not. Our kids are out here with the strength staff, so when it’s 100-plus degrees and they’re tired, they’ve got somebody on them pushing them. When you’re sitting at home doing it yourself, there’s no one pushing and grinding you. He’s just got to get in some shape to where he can compete.”

That’s not to say that Geathers’ work during Wednesday’s scrimmage was without benefit. The rainy weather and early morning practice time made for slightly cooler temperatures, which allowed Geathers to play more than coaches originally expected.

That was key for the freshman, both in terms of getting more experience, but more importantly, getting some film to start studying.

“It was probably a blessing for him because he actually got to take some quality snaps so he’s gotten his chance to see himself on film and see in some areas where he can improve,” Garner said.

—Tyler Estep

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