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Monday, August 31, 2009

Practice Notes: Week 1 Unlikely For King

Tailback Caleb King did some minor workouts with the team during Monday's practice, but his prognosis for playing time at Oklahoma State continues to look grim.

Head coach Mark Richt said King would likely need to practice by Wednesday to have a shot at playing, and another source close to the situation said King would not make the trip.

For his part, King said the final decision would not be his.

"If I could play, I'd play right now, but it's on the team doctor, so I don't have anything to say on how I'm feeling or when I come back," King said.

King has been sidelined with a sore hamstring since Aug. 12 and has watched his spot on the depth chart slowly slide ever since.

While the sophomore tailback said he has been anxious to get back to work, Richt said the team is being cautious with King's recovery.

"We don't want to make him play if he's not ready," Richt said. "And if he can't, it's a long season. We want him back healthy, that's the main thing."

For King, missing the opening game won't be nearly as difficult as missing the past three weeks of practice.

At the start of the preseason, King, sophomore Richard Samuel and redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas were among five tailbacks battling for the starting job. Samuel has moved to the top of the depth chart in King's absence after two strong scrimmages, and Thomas is the current No. 2, Richt said.

"The hardest part has been me working so hard in the summer and preseason, and then getting hurt in the first scrimmage," King said. "But it's a long season, and I know I'm going to bounce back and be 100 percent, so I'm not going to worry about it."

If King can return, he would be the third tailback option against Oklahoma State. If not, Richt said Kalvin Daniels would be next off the bench, with fullback Fred Munzenmaier also serving as an option at tailback.

King said he has been getting in two rehab sessions per day since the injury, but won't force his return. When he does get back in action, however, he said he expects to again compete for a starting job.

"I believe that's not just at the running backs position," King said. "You're always going to compete. That's football. Whenever I come back, we're going to compete still."


Offensive linemen Ben Jones and Chris Davis both returned to practice Monday after missing time with ankle sprains last week.

Jones, Georgia's starting center, missed nearly all of last week with the injury, while Davis was in a protective boot through the weekend. Both got work against the scout team Monday, however, and Richt said he's confident that both will be ready for Oklahoma State.

"I'm glad they're getting (Monday), (Tuesday) and the next two days together," Richt said. "I don't think the time Ben and Chris missed will hurt us."

The return of the two linemen was a big relief for quarterback Joe Cox, too. After Georgia was forced to swap linemen in and out of the starting lineup throughout the 2008 season, Cox said it's crucial to have the team's veteran linemen healthy for Oklahoma State.

"Chris is the most experienced lineman we have and Ben is an awesome center who knows what to do and brings a lot of life to our offensive line," Cox said. "So it was good to have them back in the huddle and be able to do some stuff. We're excited about their progress."

Also on the injury front, linebacker Akeem Dent returned to full practice Monday after missing last week with a sore hamstring.


Cox is just days away from his first start in nearly three years, but Richt said fans can expect to see a bit of Georgia's backup quarterback, too.

Logan Gray has been mentioned as a potential change-of-pace quarterback due to his speed and athleticism, but Richt wouldn't rule out giving Gray a series or two to show what he could do with the offense as well.

"There might be some situations we'll put him in," Richt said. "We may give him a series. I don't know if we'll do that or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. But there are some situations we'll get him in the game."

For his part, Gray said he's ready for action. After two years with minimal playing time, he said he feels more confident and comfortable this preseason than ever before.

As to what his role might be, Gray isn't letting any secrets slip in advance of the game. One thing he does promise, however, is that the Bulldogs aren't leaving many stones unturned.

"We've talked about doing different things for this game," Gray said. "I don't want to tell everybody what we're planning on doing, but our coaches know what they want to do, and I think we're trying to get the ball in different people's hands and attack a defense in as many ways as we possibly can."


If King is unable to play Saturday, Richt said he's not sure who the fourth tailback on the depth chart would be, but he hasn't ruled out Dontavius Jackson from his plans.

At the end of spring practice, Jackson appeared to be right in the middle of the competition for carries, but after missing much of last season with injuries, the redshirt freshman has been sidelined with lingering injuries throughout this preseason, too.

"I don't know if he's been practicing half the time he's been here, maybe," Richt said. "He's been more like a true freshman in some areas. But he'll get his day, I'm sure."

Whether that day could come as soon as Saturday remains to be seen, but Richt said he spoke with Jackson and freshman Washaun Ealey and told them to be ready.

"We haven't totally counted those guys out of the picture by any stretch," Richt said.


Cox's lone start came against Mississippi three seasons ago, which means Saturday's contest won't officially be uncharted waters for him. Looking back, however, Cox said he can't take too much from his previous experience that will help him this time around.

"That was a totally different situation," Cox said. "That was three years ago, and there were a lot of things I still didn't know or wasn't sure about. It's a totally different confidence level amongst our team and especially for me."

Cox said the start in 2006 seems like another lifetime, and he has only thrown 28 passes since. That makes this season a bit of an unknown for him, which may be an advantage against Oklahoma State.

"I'm sure they've watched some (film) of me, but they've probably just watched a lot of our offense, too," Cox said. "I doubt that they've dug into the archives to try to find my couple of throws."


Richt took in his first game of the season Saturday when he traveled to see his son Jon play for Mars Hill.

Jon Richt transferred to the Division II school from Clemson this year and he saw his first college action Saturday, completing 5-of-14 passes for 116 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 28-0 win over North Greenville.

Richt's first touchdown pass was a 61-yarder in the second quarter, and his dad admits it got him a little choked up.

"When Jon threw his first touchdown pass, it was pretty emotional for me and Kathryn," Mark Richt said. "We got to enjoy the moment, and that was nice."


Georgia wrapped up its final practice in full pads Monday, and head coach Mark Richt said the day's work was particularly encouraging.

"It's our last day in full pads, last day doing any kind of tackling drills," Richt said. "I think the guys are beginning to really sense it's here. I feel a little more excitement and animation from the guys in practice, and I'm excited about that. Tomorrow in shells and two days in shorts, get a little crowd noise, and we'll be ready to go."

Cox said the team looked sharp and the energy level was high as the Bulldogs get set for their final three days of work before starting the season.

"You can tell it's getting close, and it'll only get better as the week goes on," Cox said. "Wednesday we'll go in shorts, and that's the first time we've gone in shorts, and that'll be the first time we've gone in shorts in a long time. But everybody's excited about it. We had a lot of energy today, and it's just going to keep getting better until the game."

1 comment:

G Byron said...

David, you have been doing a great job getting us ready for the season. Keep up the good work. You are the best beat writer around.