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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Practice Notes: Offense Moves Forward Without Jones

Ben Jones made an appearance at practice Thursday, but it was Chris Davis and Kevin Perez taking all the reps at center for Georgia.

Jones sprained his left ankle during Wednesday's practice and coaches said his return remains a day-to-day decision. Meanwhile, Georgia's offense is already moving forward without him.

"You hate to see anybody go down," quarterback Joe Cox said. "Everybody was pretty worried at first, but people get hurt in football. We've just got to move on for now, and hopefully he's back in time to play."

Asked whether that meant in time to play Oklahoma State, Cox pleaded ignorance – a refrain repeated by right tackle Clint Boling, who said Jones remained in high spirits despite the injury.

"He's a tough kid," Boling said. "It definitely hurts him not being out there, but I'm sure he'll get back out there as soon as he can, and we'll be ready to have him back, too."

Head coach Mark Richt declined comment on the injury Wednesday and skipped his normal post-practice media session Thursday in order to attend his son's football game.

While the timetable for Jones' return remains vague, Boling said the important point is that the sophomore center will be back eventually, which is a big departure from the season-ending injuries suffered by two of Georgia's starters on the line last season.

"That's the last thing anybody wants is to have anything like last year with that many guys getting hurt," Boling said.


Caleb King has made a point of ducking reporters since injuring his hamstring last week, but fellow tailback Carlton Thomas said it's not because King is sulking.

Despite being forced to the sideline in the middle of an intense competition for playing time at tailback, King has kept a positive attitude throughout the process, Thomas said.

"He's been very positive in practice every day," Thomas said. "He's come in in the morning to rehab, just trying to get ready. You never see him down, even though there's probably a time when he's down because he wants to compete. But he's doing everything he can to get back and be ready for Oklahoma State."

While King is missing crucial chances to perform before a final depth chart is set for Georgia's opener, Thomas said he thinks King's attitude on the sideline has impressed coaches as much as anything he could have done on the field.

"It is a big test," Thomas said. "It's a test for anybody who has an injury this close to playing time. It's going to test you mentally, so I feel like if he overcomes it, he's going to have a lot of success."


Adjusting to college football and memorizing a playbook is no easy task, but freshmen receivers Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten said the process has been made a lot smoother thanks to the leadership of their quarterback.

"He's been a great help," Brown said of Cox, a fifth-year senior. "He's been going over the playbook with me whenever we're free. It's a blessing because he knows everything."

While Wooten has worked tirelessly to grasp the intricacies of the playbook, he said he has been amazed at Cox's knowledge of the offense – not just at quarterback, but for every position.

"He'll teach me different releases, spinning, all that different kind of stuff," Wooten said. "He's a great teacher, a great leader. He's teaching me all the right things."

For his part, Cox isn't taking much credit for his receivers' development. He said he has made a point of offering tips when needed, but said Michael Moore and A.J. Green have been the real mentors for the young wideouts.

Regardless of who has done the bulk of the teaching, the lessons appear to be paying off, Cox said.

"When you come in as a freshman at any position, you get to a point where your head starts spinning, and then you start coming out of it," Cox said. "I think they're definitely out of that fog now, and they're starting to recognize things quicker and run the right routes. They're coming along nicely."


Georgia president Michael Adams announced the dates for the university's mandatory furlough days Wednesday, and the off time isn't well suited to the football staff, who are being forced to take time off along with faculty and staff.

All university employees will be forced to take off Oct. 30, Nov. 25 and Dec. 24 this year – which would mean Richt and his staff would be on vacation the day before Georgia takes on Florida and three days before the Bulldogs travel to Georgia Tech.

Georgia's sports information department confirmed that the football staff will comply with the furloughs, but there will be an appeals process available to request different days from the ones Adams announced Thursday. The caveat, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is that the days must still occur during October and November, meaning coaches must take time away during the height of football season.

While the details are still being ironed out, Boling said he had his doubts that his rather intense line coach, Stacy Searels, would really be able to step away at such a crucial time.

"I wish," Boling said, "but I don't think it's going to happen."

(NOTE: You can read Tim Tucker's excellent recap of the situation HERE.)


The platitudes for freshman tight end Orson Charles have come pretty regularly from players, but the general consensus was that his skills were still fairly raw.

No doubt, the tight end still has some work to do, but Cox said the finer points aren't too far off.

"He's always been a good route runner," Cox said. "Now it's just fine-tuning certain routes, and I think he's gotten better every day. He's been working on his blocking a lot and done a good job getting better."


Richt wasn't around to comment on today's practice, and no assistant coaches were made available. But thanks to the beauty of social networking, there is a bit of insight into today's workouts, courtesy of Jeff Owens' Twitter page.

"Today's practice was one of the hardest practices in four years," Owens wrote, then followed with, "Just stitting in the training room icying (sic) my knee. The coaches tried to kill us today."


Boling answered plenty of questions about Jones' injury -- OK, maybe answered is a strong term -- but he was quick to put an end to any concern about his own sore wrist.

Boling injured his wrist during a practice last week when he collided with a player's helmet. He has had the wrist wrapped since then, but he said it hasn't slowed him any.

"It's fine, it was nothing serious," Boling said. "I just kind of wrapped it up and go. It was no big deal at all."


Vince Vance managed to get in some work with the first team offensive line with Jones out, and Boling said the senior has looked strong in his return from an ACL injury.

Vance was the team's starting guard before moving to left tackle four games into the season. One month later, however, he tore his ACL and joined teammate Trinton Sturdivant, who suffered a similar injury last August, in the trainer's room.

"He's been fine physically," Boling said of Vance. "Trinton hurt his a little bit earlier, but they both really look the same physically. They both have been full speed in practice the whole time, and there haven't really been any setbacks."


This time it's a team Georgia's playing that is having a blackout.

Oklahoma State isn't planning to don the black uni's, but the team has instituted a media blackout, apparently due in part to coach Mike Gundy's annoyance at the constant questions about the health of his quarterback, Zac Robinson.

Tuesday was the last day Gundy or any players met with the media, and Wednesday a blanket "no comment" was issued to all reporters. Players, coaches and Gundy will all be taking a vow of silence until the Monday before the season opener.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't a furlough mean you just aren't getting paid for a set number of days? I am pretty sure the coaches don't get paid for Sunday work either, but the coaches work on Sunday. Am I wrong in believing the furlough story is a non-starter? You can work when you aren't getting paid. Yes, it is a ding in the pocketbook for the coaches, who are state employees (arguably), but that's about it. And, really, I fully expect the AA will give them raises in the off-season to account for the loss in salary owing from the mandatory furlough.

David Hale said...

Sorry Anon, but no such luck. I'm being furloughed also, and the rules are pretty standard: No contact with work whatsoever. No checking email, no answering phones, no running into the office to do a little work. That's what has been handed down to the faculty and staff, for sure, but whether the coaches are held to the same standard remains to be seen. There's still a lot of this that needs to be worked out.

Anonymous said...

Adams might have to use the National Guard to keep Searles out on a furlough

Anonymous said...

To be fair, I don't even get how they are state employees. To my knowledge, they don't get state retirement and their pay doesn't come form the university's general fund but entirely from the AA. The AA is doing just fine, so it really makes no sense to extend the furlough except for PR purposes.

Anonymous said...

They are not on the same pay schedule as state employees

Scoreboard said...

The coaches are not state employees in any real sense of the word, and their payroll account is certainly not lacking.

The only reason the coaches are being forced into this furlough stuff is so the other university employees won't get their wittle feewings hurt. There are precisely zero financial reasons for the coaches to be included in the furloughs. It is 100% political.