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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Notebook: Ball Clears Up the Confusion

Receivers Michael Moore and Marlon Brown both said their coach, Tony Ball, lost track of who had played during the game, leaving Brown and fellow freshman Rantavious Wooten on the sideline and Moore, A.J. Green and Tavarres King handling nearly every snap.

As it turned out, however, Ball said the decision not to play the freshmen was dictated by the game situations rather than an oversight.

“The timing, just the things that were happening and needing to make something happen and get something going, what better way to do that then to have your best players in there,” Ball said. “The intention was to play them, and the season is still young, so they’ll play. They just have to be patient. You’ve got to get A.J. and Mike and Tavarres flowing before you start subbing people.”

While neither Brown nor Wooten saw action against Oklahoma State, Ball said there’s every indication that both will play this week against South Carolina, but their rolls will likely be dictated once again by how the game unfolds.

“They’ll play, but if you were to ask me how many plays, I couldn’t tell you,” Ball said. “I think what you’re seeing this week is you’re seeing their legs come back and looking a lot more sudden and explosive, and that’s encouraging. Last week, you could still see the sluggishness in their performance.”


Richt said Tuesday he thought tailback Caleb King would be a near certainty for Georgia’s matchup against South Carolina, but after the sophomore failed to make it through any of this week’s practice sessions without soreness in his injured hamstring, Richt downgraded his assessment to “doubtful.”

Multiple additional sources confirmed to the Telegraph that King would not be available for the game, leaving sophomore Richard Samuel as the Bulldogs’ primary ball carrier. Samuel had 87 yards on 20 carries in Georgia’s opener.

King said Wednesday he wasn’t sure when he would return to action, but Richt said the primary obstacle for the tailback now is simply rebuilding the strength in his hamtring.

“We don’t really have any set limitation on him other than how far can he go before it fatigues and the last couple days he hasn’t been able to go too far into practice,” Richt said.

Linebacker Darius Dewberry was Georgia’s starting Sam linebacker for its opener against Oklahoma State, but the senior from Peach County tweaked a muscle and Richt said he’ll miss Saturday’s contest.


Georgia’s defense didn’t record a single sack against Oklahoma State, but senior tackle Jeff Owens said it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

The Cowboys’ spread offense made getting to the quarterback a difficult task, as Zac Robinson ran few five- or seven-step drops, but that shouldn’t be as much of an issue against South Carolina and quarterback Stephen Garcia this week – and that’s news that has Georgia’s defense excited.

“That’s something you look forward to being a defensive lineman and they won’t be in shotgun the whole time, so hopefully we can apply some pressure and get some sacks,” senior defensive end Rod Battle said.

Saturday’s game will also be the last for Georgia before sophomore defensive end Justin Houston returns from a two-game suspension, and while Battle said he thought the back-up pass rushers handled themselves nicely last week, he’s eager to take the field with a full compliment of defensive ends.

“I don’t think anybody got too tired due to depth problems, and I think they’re continuing to get better, but we’ll be glad when Houston gets back,” Battle said.


Defensive tackle Geno Atkins saw action at defensive end throughout Georgia’s opener against Oklahoma State, and line coach Rodney Garner said there were plans to use tackle Jeff Owens in a similar role, but the game plan may not look the same this week against South Carolina.

“Part of that had to do with a particular play that they like to run that the bigger, more physical, meaner the defensive end, the better for the couple things we do,” Richt said of the unique alignment against Oklahoma State. “It wasn’t so much that we’re short of D ends as it was a schematic thing we thought would help us.”

Georgia plays its last game without suspended defensive end Justin Houston this week, but Garner said the coaching staff hasn’t ruled out using Atkins, Owens or fellow tackle Kade Weston as pass rushers in the future.

“We feel like Geno and Jeff and Kade and all those guys are some of our better players and we feel like we need to keep them on the field,” Garner said.


Georgia will have one more option at defensive end this year than it did against the Cowboys.

After missing the Bulldogs’ opener with a shoulder injury, Kiante Tripp returned to practice this week and is cleared to play in Saturday’s game. How many snaps he’ll see, however, is still undetermined.

“He’s able to play, but how much he’ll play, if he plays, I don’t know that answer,” Richt said.


Freshman defensive lineman Kwame Geathers said he hadn’t even graduated high school yet before he started talking trash to his older brother about this week’s Georgia-South Carolina game.

Clifton Geathers, Kwame’s brother, is a defensive end for South Carolina, and Saturday’s game marks the first time the two brothers will face off against one another.

“I was talking smack to him and he was talking smack to me, but it’s going to be very exciting to see him on the other side,” Kwame Geathers said. “I don’t say anything about the game plan, just about who’s going to win and how good he’s going to do.”

Geathers said he’ll have plenty of family members in attendance for the game, but he’s still not sure which team they’ll be rooting for.

“Hopefully when they come here and see our fans, they’ll switch their minds over to Georgia,” Geathers said. “Or go half-and-half at least”


Rennie Curran was as surprised as anyone when he had to take a seat on the sideline during last Saturday’s game and get IV fluids. He was one of several Bulldogs to need fluids after suffering from dehydration and cramping under the Oklahoma sun, and the physical limitations were an unexpected twist, Curran said, following an offseason of particularly grueling conditioning.

“I really don’t know what it was because the whole entire offseason we trained in the heat in the hottest time of the day,” Curran said. “I felt like we had put in our work, we had trained well and I don’t know if it was the turf or the atmosphere, but we got IVs, came back out and finished strong.”


When Georgia’s team bus pulled up next to the plane the team was taking to Oklahoma last week, freshman quarterback Aaron Murray knew he’d finally made the big time.

“Getting on the plane and the bus actually drove to the plane, it was pretty cool, all that stuff,” Murray said. “From the hotel to the meetings, the whole experience, I loved every minute of it.”

Well, everything but the final score, he said.

Despite the loss and the lack of playing time – Murray remains third on Georgia’s quarterback depth chart – he said the experience was invaluable, not to mention pretty entertaining.

“It was pretty crazy, especially being so close to the fans,” Murray said. “There was some crazy stuff being said. But it was entertaining just standing on the sideline listening to them.”

Of course, things will be a bit different this week as Murray gets his first taste of the home crowd and life in the SEC. It’s an experience he’s excited about, however. After soaking in the crowd of just more than 57,000 in Stillwater, Okla. last week, he can’t wait to see what game days in the SEC will be like.

“When they announced it right after halftime, like 50-some thousand, I was like, we have 90,000. Tennessee has 100,000,” Murray said. “It’s going to be crazy in those games and I’m excited for this weekend.”


Marcus Dowtin didn’t figure to get a ton of playing time against Oklahoma State, but after the sophomore linebacker saw increased action while several other players required IVs during the game, Curran said he’s gained confidence in his young teammate to get the job done on a more routine basis.

“It’s definitely impressive,” Curran said. “We always want to have young guys step in and he did a great job of keeping his poise. He did a great job on the goal line of just staying focused and making plays.”


To those of you wonder, no, Richt wasn't thrilled about the report that Logan Gray would start Saturday, but he took it well for the most part. Still, when a reporter inquired as to how open practice might be today, Richt made sure he underscored where his frustration with the media rumors has taken the program.

"Even some of the people that might be out there on an earlier weekday, we try to shut it completely down," Richt said of practice. "But if one of the coaches' kids wanted to be there or my dad wanted to watch it, we're not going to say nobody. We try to close it down. We've told the players, usually parents are allowed, but there's so much going on to tell writers, stories and stuff like that. For some reason, they feel good when they see a little something they can tell the world. It makes them feel important, I guess. And the more of that that happens, the harder it makes it to say, 'Come on out and enjoy the day.' There are some things you could see that are very obvious to even my mother that we're doing this or that, and she might tell her girlfriend and she tells her son and then it's on the Net. I don't think you can stop it, but we try to control it a little bit. Maybe."

I guess this is as good a time as any to admit it: Richt's mom has been my source all along.

I'm kidding, of course, but there may be a silver lining to all this.

As Seth Emerson at The State reports via Twitter, South Carolina defensive coach Ellis Johnson is now a believer that he's going to see Logan Gray this weekend.


Coon Dawg said...

Obviously Tony Ball told them that at first. He should have told them that we were waiting to get the experienced guys clicking a bit before we put you in there so you could have a better chance to succeed, etc. But that has nothing to do with the idea of sending uncertainty to Okie Skate by putting in the unknowns. This whole game looked like it was coached by Fred Flintstone.

Michael A said...

Yabba-dabba-directional kick!

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